Tok Essay Grading System

Using global impression marking

The method of assessing the essay on a prescribed title and the presentation in TOK judges each piece of work in relation to written descriptions of performance and not in relation to the work of other students.

The assessment of both tasks is envisaged as a process of holistic or global judgment rather than an analytical process of totalling the assessment of separate criteria. Although in the essay the assessment is presented as two aspects, they are integrated into five described levels of performance, allowing for variation in student performance across different parts of the overall assessment. Because of the requirement for a reasonable mark range along which to differentiate student performance, each markband level descriptor corresponds to a range of two different marks.

Assessment judgments should in the first instance be made with reference to the level descriptors for typical characteristics. The possible characteristics underneath are intended as starting prompts for discussion and development of a shared vocabulary among examiners, moderators, teachers and students as to how work at each level might be described.

The possible characteristics corresponding to a level of performance should not be thought of as a checklist of attributes; they are intended to function only as tentative descriptions, some of which may seem appropriate to apply to work at that level.

The achievement level descriptors concentrate on positive achievement, although for the lower levels (zero is the lowest level of achievement) failure to achieve is included in the description.

These level descriptors are designed to be used as a whole, and operate at a global level. It is to be understood that:

  • the described levels are not a checklist or necessary minimum
  • the different levels of performance are not discrete, and differences of degree are involved
  • different levels suggest typical performance, and there are always exceptions requiring individual or case by case judgments
  • the performance of students can be uneven across different aspects, but it is the overall impression that is most important.

Examiners and moderators will use the levels of performance as the terms on which they make a judgment that draws on their knowledge of what students at this level can do with tasks of this kind. How examiners and moderators will make a judgement about the level of performance attained in a particular student response will vary.

Essay examiners may make a decision in the course of reading the piece, and then review it and make a final judgment after completing a reading. Or they may register the comments and arguments of a student, read the essay as a whole and make a decision in retrospect. In either case the described levels are to be seen as global and holistic rather than a checklist of necessary characteristics. Examiners will make judgments about individual pieces of work by taking into account and evaluating the distinctive characteristics of a particular script.

Presentation moderators will similarly endeavour to reach a holistic judgment based on the responses of the student(s) and teacher on the TK/PPD form.

The markbands for each assessment task in effect represent a single holistic criterion applied to the piece of work, which is judged as a whole. The highest descriptor levels do not imply faultless performance and examiners and teachers should not hesitate to use the extremes if they are appropriate descriptions of the work being assessed.

Part 1: Essay on a prescribed title

The following diagram shows the question underpinning a global impression judgment of the TOK essay. This question is to shape the reading and assessing of TOK essays.

Figure 20

The judgment about the TOK essay is to be made on the basis of the following two aspects:

1. Understanding knowledge questions

This aspect is concerned with the extent to which the essay focuses on knowledge questions relevant to the prescribed title, and with the depth and breadth of the understanding demonstrated in the essay.

Knowledge questions addressed in the essay should be shown to have a direct connection to the chosen prescribed title, or to be important in relation to it.

Depth of understanding is often indicated by drawing distinctions within WOKs and AOKs, or by connecting several facets of knowledge questions to these.

Breadth of understanding is often indicated by making comparisons between WOKs and AOKs. Since not all prescribed titles lend themselves to an extensive treatment of an equal range of AOKs or WOKs, this element in the descriptors should be applied with concern for the particularity of the title.

Relevant questions to be considered include the following.

  • Does the essay demonstrate understanding of knowledge questions that are relevant to the prescribed title?
  • Does the essay demonstrate an awareness of the connections between knowledge questions, AOKs and WOKs?
  • Does the student show an awareness of his or her own perspective as a knower in relation to other perspectives, such as those that may arise, for example, from academic and philosophical traditions, culture or position in society (gender, age, and so on)?

2. Quality of analysis of knowledge questions

This aspect is concerned only with knowledge questions that are relevant to the prescribed title.

Relevant questions to be considered include the following.

  • What is the quality of the inquiry into knowledge questions?
  • Are the main points in the essay justified?
  • Are the arguments coherent and compelling?
  • Have counterclaims been considered?
  • Are the implications and underlying assumptions of the essay’s argument identified?
  • Are the arguments effectively evaluated?

Analysis of a knowledge question that is not relevant to the prescribed title will not be assessed.

Note: The TOK essay is not an assessment of first or second language literacy. Students should have properly edited their work, but whether they have done so is not in itself a matter for assessment. While the two are usually highly correlated, assessors will be wary of taking linguistic fluency for substantive understanding and analysis of knowledge questions. A fluent and stylish rendition of different knowledge questions does not in itself amount to analysis or argument. Discussion of knowledge questions must be clearly related and appropriately linked to a set title. Equally, an essay written with minor mechanical and grammatical errors can still be an excellent essay and examiners will not take these errors into consideration when marking the essay. It is only when these errors become major and impede the comprehension of the essay that they will be taken into account.

TOK essay assessment instrument

AspectLevel 5
Excellent
9–10
Level 4
Very good
7–8
Level 3
Satisfactory
5–6
Level 2
Basic
3–4
Level 1
Elementary
1–2
Irrelevant
0
Understanding knowledge questions There is a sustained focus on knowledge questions connected to the prescribed title and are well chosen— developed with investigation of different perspectives and linkedeffectively to areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing. There is a focus on knowledge questionsconnected to the prescribed title—developed with acknowledgment of different perspectives and linked to areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing. There is a focus on someknowledge questionsconnected to the prescribed title—with somedevelopment and linking to areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing. Someknowledge questions that are connected to the prescribed title are considered, but the essay is largely descriptive, with superficial or limitedlinks to areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing. The essay has only very limited relevance to the prescribed title—relevant points are descriptive. The essay does not reach a standard described by levels 1–5 or is not a response to one of the prescribed titles on the list for the current session.
Quality of analysis of knowledge questions Arguments are clear, supported by real-life examples and are effectively evaluated; counterclaims are extensively explored; implications are drawn.Arguments are clear, supported by real-life examples and are evaluated; some counterclaims are identified and explored. Somearguments are clear and supported by examples; some counterclaims are identified.Arguments are offered but are unclear and/or not supported by effectiveexamples. Assertions are offered but are not supported.
Cogent
Accomplished
Discerning
Individual
Lucid
Insightful
Compelling
Pertinent
Relevant
Thoughtful
Analytical
Organized
Credible
Coherent
Typical
Acceptable
Mainstream
Adequate
Competent
Underdeveloped
Basic
Superficial
Derivative
Rudimentary
Limited
Ineffective
Descriptive
Incoherent
Formless

Part 2: Presentation

The following diagram shows the question underpinning a global impression judgment of the TOK presentation.

Figure 21

TOK presentation assessment instrument

Do(es) the presenter(s) succeed in showing how TOK concepts can have practical application?
Level 5
Excellent
9–10
Level 4
Very good
7–8
Level 3
Satisfactory
5–6
Level 2
Basic
3–4
Level 1
Elementary
1–2

Irrelevant
0
The presentation is focused on a well-formulatedknowledge question that is clearly connected to a specifiedreal-life situation. The knowledge question is effectively explored in the context of the real-life situation, using convincingarguments, with investigation of differentperspectives. The outcomes of the analysis are shown to be significant to the chosen real-life situation and to others. The presentation is focused on a knowledge question that is connected to a specifiedreal-life situation. The knowledge question is explored in the context of the real-life situation, using cleararguments, with acknowledgment of differentperspectives. The outcomes of the analysis are shown to be significant to the real-life situation. The presentation identifies a knowledge question that has some connection to a specified real-life situation. The knowledge question is explored in the context of the real-life situation, using some adequatearguments. There is some awareness of the significance of the outcomes of the analysis. The presentation identifies a knowledge question and a real-life situation, although the connection between them may not be convincing. There is some attempt to explore the knowledge question. There is limited awareness of the significance of the outcomes of the analysis. The presentation describes a real-life situation without reference to any knowledge question, or treats an abstract knowledge question without connecting it to any specific real-life situation. The presentation does not reach the standard described by levels 1–5.
Some possible characteristics
Sophisticated
Discerning
Insightful
Compelling
Lucid
Credible
Analytical
Organized
Pertinent
Coherent
Relevant
Adequate
Acceptable
Predictable
Underdeveloped
Basic
Unbalanced
Superficial
Derivative
Rudimentary
Ineffective
Unconnected
Incoherent
Formless

The extended essay (EE) is a mandatory core component of the IB Diploma Programme. It is a research paper of up to 4000 words, giving students an opportunity to conduct independent research or investigation on a topic that interests them. Like the theory of knowledge (TOK) essay, TOK presentation, and participation in creativity, action, service activities, submitting an extended essay is a prerequisite for the award of the Diploma.

Recommended subjects[edit]

It is mandatory that the extended essay be taken from the field of one of the IB subjects being studied (e.g. the essay may be about a book that has not been studied as part of IB English).[1] However, the topic must not be too broad or too narrow as to make it difficult to write 4,000 words, and the general subject must be taught under the IB diploma program by one of the members of staff at the high school (so that there is someone with expertise able to help). The subject (not topic) on which the extended essay is written is recommended to be one that the candidate has formally studied, but this is not required. Also, the EE may not be written across different subjects – it must concentrate on one subject only, unless the student is writing under the World Studies topic. However, some subjects include several disciplines, with an emphasis towards one. An example is the subject Societies, which can include chemistry, biology, psychology, etc. generally with an emphasis toward one discipline.

Supervision[edit]

The supervisor provides the student with assistance in putting together their EE, including guiding them in finding a suitable research question and on how to acquire the necessary resources to complete the research (such as a specific resource material–often hard-to-find documents or books–or laboratory equipment). The supervisor may suggest improvements to a version of the EE, but must not be engaged in writing it. The IBO recommends that the supervisor spend approximately two to three hours in total with the candidate discussing the EE.

Assessment[edit]

Extended essays are marked by individuals named external assessors (examiners appointed by the IB) on a scale of 0 to 36. There are "general" and "subject-specific" criteria, at a ratio of 2:1 (24 possible marks for the general criteria and 12 marks for the subject-specific one). The total mark is converted into a grade from A to E. A similar system is used for theory of knowledge and students can gain up to 3 points for the diploma based on the grades achieved for EE and TOK. A scores of E on either the extended essay or TOK essay revoked the eligibility of receiving the IB Diploma (EE Subject Guide p15).[2]

Theory of Knowledge
Extended Essay
ABCDE or N
A3321Failing Condition
B3211
C2110
D1100
E or NFailing Condition
Source: The diploma points matrix. May 2015 onwards[3]

References[edit]

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