TOK Exhibition is criteria oriented


The “brand new” TOK exhibition is worth 33% of the grades. It is assessed internally, but moderated externally. The exhibition aims to assess how you can apply TOK concepts to the real world. You have to complete the exhibition individually (no group work!) and make sure no one in your TOK class/school uses the same objects/images in their exhibition. In short, the TOK exhibition is a live or virtual exhibition of three objects based on one “IA prompt”. You should choose one prompt from the list below (it must be exactly from this list- DO NOT change the wording) and find three objects or images of objects that relate to this prompt. It is very important that your exhibition is based on one of the prescribed prompts. If not, you will get a 0. You also have to create a document with the title of your IA prompt, the images of the three objects, a commentary on each object that identifies each object and its specific real-world context. The comment should also justify the inclusion of the object in the exhibition and explain the links to the IA prompt. Finally, you should also include appropriate citations and references. The total word count for this document is 950 words (excluding references).

A three step approach:

To create the exhibition you should follow three steps:

1) Choose the IA prompt and (images of) objects,
2) Prepare the documents for moderation
3) Showcase the exhibition.

FAQ: So how do these three steps work in practice?

This section of the web page explains the three-step approach towards the preparation of the TOK exhibition. Please make sure you read all the guidelines very carefully. More information on formalities and the markscheme can be found further down this page.

Step 1: choose the IA prompt and look for three objects.

1 a) Choose the IA prompts from the list of prescribed IA prompts (see below).

​As a first step in the exhibition process, you should choose the IA prompt you will use to connect the three objects to. Remember that all three (images of) objects should relate to the same prompt. The same prompts remain available for the duration of this specification (this means that they don’t change every year, as opposed to the essay titles). The idea is that you link the prompts to the TOK themes you have learned in class. So, when you choose a prompt, consider how you may be able to relate it to themes such as knowledge and the knower, knowledge and technology etc.

You have to choose one of the following prompts:

Be careful: The chosen prompt must be used exactly as given; it must not be altered in any way !!!


  1. What counts as knowledge?
  2. Are some types of knowledge more useful than others?
  3. What features of knowledge have an impact on its reliability?
  4. On what grounds might we doubt a claim?
  5. What counts as good evidence for a claim?
  6. How does the way that we organize or classify knowledge affect what we know?
  7. What are the implications of having, or not having, knowledge?
  8. To what extent is certainty attainable?
  9. Are some types of knowledge less open to interpretation than others?
  10. What challenges are raised by the dissemination and/or communication of knowledge?
  11. Can new knowledge change established values or beliefs?
  12. Is bias inevitable in the production of knowledge?
  13. How can we know that current knowledge is an improvement upon past knowledge?
  14. Does some knowledge belong only to particular communities of knowers?
  15. What constraints are there on the pursuit of knowledge?
  16. Should some knowledge not be sought on ethical grounds?
  17. Why do we seek knowledge?
  18. Are some things unknowable?
  19. What counts as a good justification for a claim?
  20. What is the relationship between personal experience and knowledge?
  21. What is the relationship between knowledge and culture?
  22. What role do experts play in influencing our consumption or acquisition of knowledge?
  23. How important are material tools in the production or acquisition of knowledge?
  24. How might the context in which knowledge is presented influence whether it is accepted or rejected?
  25. How can we distinguish between knowledge, belief and opinion?
  26. Does our knowledge depend on our interactions with other knowers?
  27. Does all knowledge impose ethical obligations on those who know it?
  28. To what extent is objectivity possible in the production or acquisition of knowledge?
  29. Who owns knowledge?
  30. What role does imagination play in producing knowledge about the world?
  31. How can we judge when evidence is adequate?
  32. What makes a good explanation?
  33. How is current knowledge shaped by its historical development?
  34. In what ways do our values affect our acquisition of knowledge?
  35. In what ways do values affect the production of knowledge?

​Once you have chosen the prompt, you should start
to think about possible objects you may relate to it.
All three objects should be related to the same prompt.

1 b) Select the (images of) objects. All objects should relate to the same IA prompt.

The images above are some possible examples of (images of) objects students could select (albeit not related to the same prompt).

Once you have chosen your IA prompt, think about three objects you could connect to the prompt. The word “object” can be interpreted broadly; remember that you can also use an image of an object. Ideally, you use objects that you are interested in or objects that are interesting in a TOK context. As Ric Sims has mentioned in one of his webinars, you really want the object to do the talking. The whole point of the exhibition is that you see TOK connections in the real world. So, keep your eyes and ears open throughout the course. Keep a log of possible interesting “objects” (TOK material) for your exhibition when you are tackling the TOK themes within your TOK lessons. These objects can come from subject lessons, what you experience at school, and also what you encounter outside the classroom. Remember that these objects should be related to knowledge. Ric Sims also mentions the concept of “materiality of knowlegde”. In that sense, some objects may represent how knowledge has been recorded (through language), or how we can gather or create knowlegde through some objects, for example. Also, sometimes objects represent and reinforce knowledge that has been created in particular societies or communities of knowers.  (This can almost take a life on its own, in some cases). In practice, the objects (and IA prompts) should have something to do with the themes you have studied in TOK: either the core theme (knowledge and the knower), or one of the optional themes (Knowledge and language, religion, technology, indigenous societies or politics). (The areas of knowledge, on the other hand, will be assessed through the TOK essay.)
So what kinds of things are suitable objects for the TOK exhibition? First of all, don’t panic if you live in a very remote place where you have little access to physical objects. The objects could be digital as well. For example, you can use a photo of an important page of a textbook or a law that has been passed somewhere. You can use a tweet by a political leader etc. Remember that the object has to be something that would appear in the real world or have a real-world context. You could even use something that you “own” or have created yourself previously (let’s say, your EE or your IB Art exhibition piece). But, it cannot be something you have created for the purpose of the TOK exhibition. Your object should have a particular context that is meaningful and has a real-world context in the world as it is. Generic photos of babies, or young girls etc don’t have this context. If you have a picture of a particular young girl to whom a context matters, that could work, however. As such, this is the same for any exhibition. You should be able to say something about the particular object or image you have chosen.

The objects you have chosen may all refer to different aspects of the prompt, whereby the three objects together relate to all aspects of the prompt when they are brought together. Or, conversely, each object may relate to all aspects of the prompt (but perhaps in a different way). The prompt will inform the objects you have chosen. However, the way you unpack the prompt or different aspects of the prompt will in its turn be defined by the objects you have chosen.

You should reference any images or objects. If the object is your own or if you use something you have created, you should also mention this. Otherwise teachers and moderators don’t get it. But, once again, remember that you cannot create an object especially for the TOK exhibition (because that way the context is not there and it defeats the TOK purpose).

“Examples of the diverse kinds of objects students could select include:

   A tweet from the President of the United States.
 An image of the painting “Guernica” by Pablo Picasso.
   The student’s own extended essay.
  A basketball used by the student during their physical education lessons.
The graphic novel The Colour of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa.
  A painting that the student created in their DP visual arts course.
A refillable water bottle provided to each student in a school
as part of a sustainability initiative.
  A news article from the popular website “Buzzfeed”.
A photograph of the student playing in an orchestra.”

Step 2: Prepare the document, which is used for marking and moderation.

​​You will then need to prepare the document that will be used for marking​ and, possibly, moderation.
​The total word count for this document is 950 words. 
​Create the document as a single file.

From the TOK Guide:
“Students produce a single file containing the content of their TOK exhibition. This must include: a title that clearly identifies their selected IA prompt, images of their three objects, a typed commentary on each object, and appropriate referencing and citations.”

​The commentary on the object should contain an identification of the object, an explanation of its specific real world context, an explanation of how the object links to the chosen IA prompt and also a justification as to why you have chosen to include this object in the exhibition on the chosen prompt. Teachers can give oral and written feedback on this stage of the exhibition process (but not edit the form).

Step 3: showcase the exhibition.

As a final step, you will showcase your exhibition. . ​
This stage is not part of the formal assessment,

When you have sorted out all the formalities, you get the opportunity to showcase your exhibition. This can take many different forms. This stage is not part of the formal assessment, so it should be a fun opportunity to show what you have done in TOK to other students, parents and maybe even visitors. Your teachers and your school can choose how they will address this stage. You could hold a TOK exhibition within your normal TOK classes, classes of TOK students in the same school, or different schools, could host exhibitions for each other, you could host an exhibition for younger students in the school, parents and members of the school community (eg open evening, IB DP information evening). You can also create a virtual exhibition. A school could host a combined event celebrating the Primary Years Programme exhibition, Middle Years Programme personal project, and TOK exhibition.

Word count, referencing and other formalities.

Objects can be physical or digital.
Digital objects must be correctly referenced.
Teachers can give guidance, but they cannot edit the draft.
The exhibition is intended to take place in the first year of TOK teaching.
It is strongly recommended that the exhibition is based on the themes discussed in class.
The maximum overall word count for everything about the exhibition is 950 words; (all the three objects together).
​BUT it does not include possible text written on the objects, references, bibliographies, (short) footnotes, acknowledgements etc.
These 950 words should be produced in one single file.
​Examiners will not read past 950 words.
All work should be individual.
The work must be your own.

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