So you understand what the TOK exhibition rubric is looking for, you’ve selected your IA prompt, and you’ve chosen your three objects. You know the context that you want to set your exhibition in. What happens next?
Now you have to write your TOK exhibition commentary. This is a 950-word exploration of the IA prompt, explaining why you have chosen your three objects, and demonstrating how TOK manifests itself in the real world, within the context of the core theme, or one of the optional themes.
Writing the TOK exhibition commentary
Before you begin writing your commentary, make sure that you have seen the exemplar exhibitions, that are found on ‘MyIB’ – your teacher will give you access to these. This is a fantastic way of seeing exactly what you are trying to do with you exhibition.
You’re trying to do several things simultaneously when you write the commentary. First, you’re answering the IA prompt that you’ve chosen from the list of 35 options. These all ask a question about the nature of knowledge, and how we use it: make sure your exhibition commentary addresses this question.
Second, you are outlining the real-world context of your objects, and justifying why you have chosen them for your exhibition. How do your objects link to the IA prompt? How do they relate to your personal experiences? What makes them special, or original, or particularly resonant?
Third, you are showing your knowledge of the core theme, or one of theoptional themes, by referring to ideas relevant to this aspect of TOK, key thinkers that you’ve come across during the course, and real-life situations that have engaged you.
Overall, you are trying to demonstrate how TOK manifests itself in the real world. This means showing how the ideas and concepts that we encounter during the course are relevant to the way in which we lead our lives, and the society in which we exist.
Keep in mind the four different strands of the assessment rubric: you should be prepared to discuss with your teacher how you are hitting these targets. Also consider the three characteristics of a top level exhibition: precise, lucid, and convincing. How is your exhibition all of these three things?
More support for the TOK exhibition
Make sure that your TOK teacher has given you access to all the documents and online material that support the exhibition. These include the TOK Subject Guide (for the 2022 syllabus) – where you’ll find the IA prompts, and the exhibition rubric – and the exemplar TOK exhibitions (found in ‘MyIB’, which is accessible to teachers).
Follow the links above to take you to the three different elements of the TOK exhibition; we’ve also created a page giving some tips on how to put on your exhibition if your school is running a public ‘exhibition day’ which you can visit here. It suggests ways of presenting ideas to an audience.
If your school is a member of theoryofknowledge.net, we have designed a series of lessons on the exhibition, with a three practice exhibition tasks. These will familiarize you with the IA prompts, how to select effective objects, and the assessment rubric. If you are signed into the site, you can access these lessons here.
You can also find out our thoughts on the TOK exhibition (and the TOK essay) in several webinars that we have delivered. The main one is the TOK Assessment 2022 webinar, but we also consider this form of assessment in our free webinars on the 2022 course. You can see these webinars on this page of the site.
FAQs about the exhibition commentary
How long should the TOK exhibition commentary be, and what happens if I go over this limit? Your commentary should be 950 words long, not including the footnotes and references (but don’t use the trick of writing lengthy footnotes to get across ideas that you want to present in the main body of your commentary!). Examiners will stop reading after 950 words, so it’s a complete waste of time going over this limit.
How much help can I get for my TOK exhibition commentary? You’re allowed to consult extensively with your teacher about the appropriateness of your objects, the clarity of the ideas in your commentary, and other issues, such as how relevant your ideas are to the IA prompt, the context of the commentary, etc. Your teacher may give you written comments on one draft, but they’re not allowed to edit your work. They can’t look at more than one draft.
How do I submit my TOK exhibition commentary? Your commentary should be presented within a single file, along with images of your exhibition objects. You should also include references for ideas, and for the objects themselves. This file will then be uploaded to your IB dashboard.
Ask a question
We’ll also be happy to respond to questions you might have on the TOK exhibition. We can’t, unfortunately, reply to all of these, but we will try our best to offer answers to the most frequently asked, and post them here. Use the contact form to get in touch.