How Many Paragraphs is a TOK Essay? Let’s Find Out

From choosing a title and selecting two areas of knowledge to developing an outline and working on your drafts, a lot goes into writing a ToK essay. As you write, you’ll reference parts of the course or opinions about knowledge from outside your classroom. But how many paragraphs is a ToK essay?

Your TOK should have a maximum of six paragraphs and the length should be no more than 1,600 words. You should divide the essay into three sections, the introduction, body, and conclusion. Also, your essay should focus strictly on the selected prescribed title.

There is more to writing a ToK essay than just knowing how many paragraphs it should.

So in this guide, we look at:

  • How to structure the paragraphs
  • How to divide paragraphs into sections
  • What to write in each paragraph

Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • The updated TOK essay guidelines and structure requires you to write 6 paragraphs, not 9.
  • Your TOK essay must not exceed 1,600 words.
  • Divide your essay into an introduction, body, and conclusion.

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How Many Paragraphs Should a TOK Essay Have?

A TOK essay should have a maximum of six paragraphs, which, according to the Theory of Knowledge course guideline, is sufficient to explore a prescribed title.

Your overall structure should have the following sections:

  • Introduction (one paragraph)
  • Body section (four paragraphs)
  • Conclusion (one paragraph)

Develop a knowledge question from the prescribed title that you selected before you start writing.

Here’s an example:

  • Prescribed title: You can choose a title such as “What makes mathematics convincing?”
  • Knowledge question: Your knowledge question can be something like “to what extent is mathematics more reliable than other areas of knowledge?

You can start a KQ with statements such as:

  • How certain is a perspective
  • How reliable is 
  • To what extent is

These openings are good because they allow you to focus on more than one AOK and ways of knowing and, at the same time, show what you think about Theory of Knowledge.

Don’t develop a question about sociology. Instead, ensure the question directly related to knowledge.

How to Write Your TOK Paragraphs

Now that the prerequisites are clear, let’s look at how to develop your paragraphs from start to finish.

The purpose of this guideline is to give you a clear picture of the way to structure your paragraphs regardless of the prescribed title that you select.


The introduction section sets the stage for your Theory of Knowledge essay. It’s the first paragraph of the paper. 

Paragraph 1

The first paragraph of your TOK essay should be 100 to 150 words long. Here’s how to develop this paragraph:

  • State two things about the prescribed title and explain what you understand about the knowledge question.
  • Define one or two key terms from the prescribed title to give clues for claims, counterclaims, and evidence.
  • Establish a clear roadmap for the essay so that your reader knows exactly to look forward to in your work.

Body Section

The body section should have two parts, one for your first area of knowledge and one for your second AOK.

Section 1: The First Area of Knowledge

Develop your first AOK in the second and third paragraph of your essay.  Ensure the section doesn’t exceed 600 words.

Paragraph 2

  • State the claim: What’s your argument about the prescribed title? Write it here.
  • Give an example: You can give any example of a claim as long as it’s real and specific. Good examples often come from personal experiences or events you’ve witnessed. 
  • Explain your example: Explain how your example supports your claim. Don’t hesitate to mention something interesting about the example if you believe it will grab your reader’s attention.

Paragraph 3

  • State the counterclaim: Present an argument against the claim that you made in the second paragraph.
  • Give an example for a counterclaim: Give a solid example that supports the opposing point of view.
  • Explain the example: How does the example support your counterclaim? Is there anything interesting about the example? What does the example say about the prescribed title?
  • Write a summary: Link back to the prescribed title and highlight significant insights about this area of knowledge.

Section 2: The Second Area of Knowledge

Develop your second AOK in the second and third paragraph of your essay. This part, too, should be no more than 600 words long.

Paragraph 4

  • Mention the claim for the second area of knowledge. 
  • Give a solid example to support your argument. 
  • Explain the example you just gave. In particular, your explanation should how the example supports the claim.

Paragraph 5

  • Write the counterclaim (or opposing point of view) for the second AOK.
  • Give a solid example to support the counterclaim.
  • Explain how the example supports the opposing point of view that you just shared.


The conclusion is the last paragraph of the TOK essay. It should be no more than 250 words long.

Paragraph 6

  • Conclusion: Mention and synthesize the insights that you gathered about the two areas of knowledge. Remember, the insights you give must relate to the prescribed title.
  • Implication and Significance: Write about the impact and significance of your essay. Stress enough on why it’s important to pay attention to the insights shared.
  • Perspective and Extension: Mention if there is a different way you would have used to approach the question. State if the approach would have given different results or insights that don’t already reflect on your essay.

Final Thoughts

Note that IB updated the structure for the Theory of Knowledge essay assignment. Now your essay should have a maximum of 6 paragraphs instead of 9.

Check our post on ToK essay outline to learn more about these changes.

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