What is TOK?

We know many things: that gold is a precious metal, that the capital of Ghana is Accra, and that the sea is blue.  The question is, “How do we know we know?”, “To what extent can we trust our senses to give us the truth, especially considering that they’re not always reliable?”, “To what extent do we see things as we are and not as they are?”, “how far can the vocabulary that we use shape what we can know?” The TOK course is designed to encourage learners to reflect questions of this nature and interrogate the underlying assumptions and beliefs that impact on their thought processes leading to various conclusions. It builds on the critical thinking skills that students are acquiring across the range of subjects that they study to examine the basic question, “How do you know you know?”


Theory of Knowledge forms the core of the Diploma Programme alongside Extended Essay, and Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS). The core complements each other and glues the academic disciplines to provide the IB learner with a holistic experience that fosters international-mindedness and the development of self-awareness and a sense of identity in an interconnected world.


Theory of Knowledge (TOK) is a compulsory 100 hour course consisting of two main parts: Ways of Knowing and Areas of Knowledge that are integrated to form a whole. The Ways of Knowing covered include Language, Sense perception, Emotion, Reason, Imagination, Faith, Intuition and Memory. Areas of Knowledge covered include the Natural Sciences, Human Sciences, Art, Mathematics, History, Ethics, Religious Knowledge, and Indigenous Knowledge.


At the end of the course students complete a presentation on a real life situation, and then write an essay on a title selected out of six prescribed titles provided by IB. The presentation is weighted 33% while the essay is weighted 67%. The maximum essay length is 1600 words. The course is graded on an A-E scale, A being the highest grade.