TOK exhibition held in a high school gym

Mastering the IB TOK Exhibition: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are a student of the International Baccalaureate program, you must be familiar with the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Exhibition, which is a crucial component of your internal assessment. In this article, we will explore the purpose and requirements of the TOK Exhibition and our IB TOK tutor will provide you with tips on how to excel in this task.

What is the TOK Exhibition?

The TOK Exhibition is an individual task that accounts for approximately one-third of your total grade in TOK. The aim of this task is to enable students to explore how TOK manifests in the world around us. Students create an exhibition comprising three objects or images of objects that connect in some way to one of the 35 “IA prompts” provided in the Theory of Knowledge guide. The exhibition is accompanied by a written commentary on each object, and it is marked by the teacher (with a selection of files being sent to the IB for moderation).

The IA Prompts

The IA prompts are thought-provoking questions that require students to explore the nature of knowledge and its manifestations in the world. Some examples of IA prompts include:

  • How can we judge when evidence is adequate?
  • What makes a good explanation?
  • How is current knowledge shaped by its historical development?
  • In what ways do our values affect our acquisition of knowledge?
  • In what ways do values affect the production of knowledge?

It is important to note that students must choose only one IA prompt and create an exhibition comprising three objects or images of objects that connect to it.

Requirements of the TOK Exhibition

To ensure that your exhibition can be marked by your TOK teacher and for samples of student work to be submitted to the IB for moderation, you must produce a single file containing:

  • A title clearly indicating your selected IA prompt
  • Images of your three objects or images of objects
  • A typed commentary on each object that identifies each object and its specific real-world context, justifies its inclusion in the exhibition, and links to the IA prompt (maximum 950 words)
  • Appropriate citations and references

It is crucial to adhere to these requirements to maximize your chances of achieving a good score.

Tips for Excelling in the TOK Exhibition

Here are some tips that can help you excel in the TOK Exhibition:

1. Understand The Role of Object in Your TOK Exhibition

The TOK exhibition encourages students to choose a wide variety of personal and academically relevant objects to showcase. It is recommended that students base their exhibition on a specific theme to help them focus on their choice of objects. Objects may be either physical or digital, but they must have a specific real-world context and be pre-existing rather than created specifically for the exhibition.

It is important that students identify specific objects to discuss in their exhibition rather than using generic objects from the internet. Examples of objects students can select include a tweet from a political leader, an image of a famous painting, the student’s own extended essay, a basketball used in a physical education lesson, or a photograph of the student playing in an orchestra. If the object is the student’s original work, such as a painting, it should be identified and acknowledged.

2. Connect Your Objects to the IA Prompt

Each of your chosen objects should help you to make a different point that helps to answer the selected IA prompt. If they all make the same point, then there’s no need to have all three of them. Every object must have a good reason for being there.

3. Support Your Points with Evidence

As with the essay task, focus on answering the IA prompt as given. Do not twist it into a different question and start answering that. Ensure that the points you make are supported by evidence and explicit references to the selected IA prompt.

4. Treat the IA Prompt Like an Essay Question

To ensure a clear link between your objects and your prompt, treat the IA prompt like an essay question. Start by asking yourself what points you would like to bring up in your discussion. From there, consider what real-life examples you would use to justify and illustrate your points, and then come up with objects that relate to those examples.

tok exhibition rubric
IB TOK Exhibition Rubric


In conclusion, the TOK Exhibition is a unique opportunity for students to explore how TOK manifests in the world around us and apply their critical thinking skills to real-world objects or images. It accounts for a significant portion of the final TOK grade and requires students to carefully select three objects and create an accompanying written commentary that clearly links to one of the 35 IA prompts provided in the Theory of Knowledge guide. By following the guidelines and focusing on the prompt, students can create a compelling and well-supported exhibition that showcases their understanding of TOK concepts and their ability to apply them to real-world scenarios.

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