IB ToK Exhibition: The Definitive Guide

This Is a Complete Guide To The IB ToK exhibition. Learn Exactly How To Score A Perfect Grade In Your Upcoming ToK Exhibition.

Adya Sharma
13 OCT 2021
ib tok exhibition

Hola Folks!


It’s been quite a roller coaster for students who have opted for the TOK (Theory Of Knowledge) Diploma Programme, with the new syllabus introduced in August 2020. TOK Exhibition is probably the most important addition. Replacing the previous, Presentation Assessment, the TOK Exhibition explores how TOK manifests in the world around us.


The IB has introduced the TOK Exhibition to inspire students to relate the knowledge gained in the classroom to the world beyond. The Assessment Model has seen a massive change, but since TOK Essay is the same old, TOK Exhibition is what we’ll discuss in this guide!


This change in the TOK Diploma Programme structure is effective from August 2020 and will be first examined for the students who will be taking the examination in May 2022. 


Changes/Modifications can easily haunt you without proper guidance. We at Nail IB are committed to serving premium content, helping you prepare, and updating you regularly. For premium content and notes, head over to our specially curated treasure trove of IB Resources! To evaluate yourself, check out our Question Bank today!


This guide covers:


Without further adieu, let’s dive in!


Before we take you through this guide’s contents, we will briefly outline the critical changes the DP Theory of Knowledge(TOK) course has seen, introduced only last August. 

  1. The new core theme on “knowledge and the knower”. Students will be encouraged to think of themselves as today’s knowers and strongly link to the IB learner profile. 
  2. Optional Themes- “knowledge and technology” and “knowledge and politics” introduced.
  3. Ethics is a critical requirement for every part of the course.
  4. TOK Exhibition replaces the previous presentation IA with a different task and a different moderation process. This new assessment instrument aims at showing how TOK manifests in the real world. 


You must know that the two Assessment tasks for TOK are

  1. Theory of Knowledge Exhibition
  2. Theory of Knowledge Essay on a title prescribed by the IB


The IB prescribes the Assessment objectives to be as follows:(these will guide you to get a hands-on idea about what the IB expects of your TOK Assessments)

  • To demonstrate TOK thinking through the critical examination of knowledge questions.
  • To identify and explore links between knowledge questions and the world around us.
  • To identify and explore links between knowledge questions and areas of knowledge.
  • To develop relevant, clear and coherent arguments.
  • To use examples and evidence effectively to support a discussion. 
  • To demonstrate awareness and evaluation of different points of view.
  • To consider the implications of arguments and conclusions.


Before moving on, we highly recommend you to check out our IB TOK Essay Guide, which makes for 2/3rd (67%) of your IB Assessment grade. This guide will help you understand the subject’s fundamental concepts and eventually produce a top-notch IB TOK Essay.


And for the IB TOK Exhibition, continue reading!


First and foremost, you need to understand what the newly added TOK Exhibition is. Weighing 33% of your total TOK grade, the TOK Exhibition requires you to create an exhibition of three objects with accompanying commentaries to highlight your engagement with the concepts you have learnt in the class. You’re supposed to carry out the Exhibition individually and ensure the objects you choose don’t overlap with someone else’s at your school. The TOK Exhibition is marked internally and then perhaps externally moderated. 


Now is the time to briefly list the differences between the previous IB TOK Presentation and the newly added- IB TOK Exhibition. These differences will help you get a clear and coherent idea about precisely what has changed and how you can nail your TOK Assessment! 


IB ToK Exhibition Vs ToK Presentation


The entire process that goes into completing your TOK exhibition includes

  1. Preparing the file of work of your exhibition(noun) - Students need to produce a single file comprising the content of their TOK exhibition.
  2. Exhibition(verb) of your work


The document you prepare for the work you have done is marked internally and externally moderated. The Exhibition(verb) of your work is a part of the assessment but doesn’t get graded. Your TOK Exhibition file should include

  • A clear title that indicates the IA prompt selected,
  • Images of the three objects used
  • A typed commentary includes identifying the objects, their real-world relation, their relevance to the Exhibition and their link with the IA prompt selected.
  • Relevant citations and references.


The Exhibition of your work is not a part of the formal assessment, and there is a great deal of flexibility in how your teacher chooses to go ahead with the Exhibition. A few ideas as listed by the IB are

  • A classroom Exhibition,
  • A virtual Exhibition,
  • A school held Exhibition open for all parents and other school members.


To understand in detail what the TOK Exhibition covers, let’s break it down into points

  • The Exhibition is not assessed; only the folder of your work needs to be submitted for grading. 
  • The file of work should broadly encompass:
    1. The IA Prompt you choose
    2. Images of the three objects you pick,
    3. Typed Commentary.
  • The IB strictly permits up to 950 words for your document(not inclusive of the citations, references, bibliographies, footnotes etc.).
  • It is also essential to understand the IB TOK Exhibition rubric, which can be found in your TOK subject guide. IB has shared specific characteristics for the score your TOK Exhibition manages to get:
    1. Excellent (9-10) - Convincing, Lucid, Precise
    2. Good (7-8) - Focused, Relevant, Coherent\
    3. Satisfactory (5-6) - Adequate, Competent, Acceptable
    4. Basic (3-4) - Simplistic, Limited, Underdeveloped
    5. Rudimentary (1-2) - Ineffective, Descriptive, Coherent
    6. Score 0
  • The exhibition will take place in the first year of TOK teaching, i.e., the first year of diploma.


Let us elaborate a little more on how you are supposed to pick an IA prompt, choose three relevant objects, go about the commentary and other essential pointers. 

  • Unlike the essay titles, which change, the IA prompts IB has prescribed the same each year. Listed below are the 35 standard IA prompts you are supposed to choose from(These prompts should not be altered; use them as prescribed)
    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 organise 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 establish 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? 


The TOK Exhibition Instrument strictly points out that an exhibition that does not reflect one of the prescribed prompts will be awarded zero. 


You are then expected to base the exhibition on the IA prompt chosen by you.


This brings us to the next step: selecting three relevant objects or images of objects that mean something to you

  • Ensure that the chosen object has a real-world context.
  • Links among the three objects must also be given.
  • All three selected objects should link to the prompt chosen. 
  • IB encourages students to base their exhibition on one of the TOK themes- either the core or optional. 


A few key pointers to note while selecting the three objects

  1. Though there can be many options to pick your objects from, it is best to narrow them down by basing your exhibition on the core or optional themes. 
  2. The objects you pick should be of personal interest to you and should portray their value to you. For example, a regular cricket bat won’t hold much significance, but just when the bat belongs to you, it has much more importance and value. 
  3. Objects can be both physical and digital. However, IB recommends you to use digital objects such as the picture of a painting by a famous artist since it is not possible to produce it physically. 
  4. IB permits using objects created by the student, but these objects must have an older relevance and should not be made for the Exhibition’s sole purpose. The TOK Exhibition objects’ very purpose is to relate the theory studied in the classroom to what we see around us every day.
  5. A specific real-world connection of the object used is vital since generality does not highlight the object’s importance. A few specific yet diverse examples of real-world objects, as mentioned by the IB itself, are:
    • A basketball used by the student during their physical education lessons.
    • A news article from the popular website Buzzfeed
    • The student’s extended essay (EE).
  6. Identification of the objects or the objects’ images is necessary, and proper referencing must be done. If the object is your creation, identify and acknowledge it.


The third very important part of your file work is the typed commentary. Let us understand what it is

  • You have to write a short commentary on the objects you have chosen, clearly identifying them, justifying why you included them in the Exhibition of the selected prompt and specifying their real-world context. 
  • The 950 words you have to include in your document include the typed commentaries for each of the three objects chosen by you. 
  • All the while drafting your document, ensure you follow the assessment rubric as prescribed by the IB. The only surefire way to write a document that gets a top score is one that follows all the points included in the rubric.


The best guidance nonetheless comes from the course teacher; therefore, you are advised to seek your TOK teacher’s support, i.e. planning your Exhibition and whilst you are working on it. Verbal and written advice should be sought from the teacher, but taking assistance from them to edit your draft is strictly prohibited. Your TOK teacher will provide you with the TOK Subject Guide and the MyIB repository examples for TOK Exhibition. 


And that’s that!


We hope these little points will help you explore further the vast realms of the Theory of Knowledge Course. It might seem a lot confusing with the changes the DP Course has seen, but you will go beyond your expectations with the right guidance and support! On this note, we wish you all the very best for your IB TOK Exhibition :)


Want some A-quality guidance? Look no further; at Nail IB, we have assembled premium content for you to ace your IBs, and you might want to check out our resources for a smooth IB experience. Click here for top-notch IB resources or here to assess how your prep is going! 


We hope this guide helped clear all your doubts regarding the new TOK Exhibition and gave you the headstart you needed!

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