Senior to Junior Advice: Entering TOK Season

Article by Carmel Limcaoco

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) presentations are coming to a close, and while this may be a relief to most seniors taking the full IB, juniors entering the program may not be as thrilled. Their TOK experience is just beginning, meaning soon they will be giving up their study halls for the rest of the semester. TOK can be daunting and unfamiliar as the subject is unlike any other; it requires students to use critical thinking to analyze and reevaluate virtually anything they think they know.

Many juniors are intimidated by the challenge presented by TOK. “I’m worried about having to present in front of a lot of people. Even though I’m a junior and even though we have had a lot of oral assignments, I still get very nervous in front of crowds and speaking up,” Junior Katie H. says. “I’m also very worried that I won’t fully understand and grasp the content of TOK. What I can gather is that it basically is just questioning how we know things, and I’m honestly terrified that it may make me go existential.”

Juniors can agree that the subject is extremely intimidating, especially since for the presentation, you could research essentially anything you would like. While some laugh it off and give TOK the façade of being easy, it is arguably anything but. However, despite the worries some juniors have, the seniors have some TOK advice worth listening to.

“Junior ToK is actually very chill,” senior Abhinav B. says. “The difficulty is overhyped, and you should relax.”

Senior Iris M. thinks similarly. “First of all, relax,” Iris says. “It honestly isn’t as hard as you think it’ll be. Be sure to take good notes, as they’ll pay off in the long run! Pay attention in class and always try to relate your discussions back to your AoK [areas of knowing] and WoK [ways of knowing], and be sure to participate in the discussions as it not only shows the teacher that you’re invested, but also helps reinforce your own understanding of the material. Third, have fun, because ToK is genuinely an interesting class! I know it sounds ridiculous, but the hard work and long hours you put into the presentation and the bonding you get with your partners, not to mention the relief of actually presenting is a great feeling overall.”

While TOK may seem like a daunting challenge, remember that it’s manageable and you’ll quickly come to grips with everything when the time comes. Best of luck to the juniors as they begin their TOK adventures!