IB Diploma Written Assignments: ToK, IA, EE, and CAS

The purpose of the IB diploma program is to build you into a student with breadth and depth of knowledge necessary to flourish ethically, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. To earn the diploma, you have to complete four distinct IB assignments, which are ToK, IAs, EE, and CAS.

In this guide, we look at the concepts of Theory of Knowledge, Internal Assessments, Extended Essay, and CAS project. The goal is to give you the foundation knowledge necessary to navigate the course, even as you prepare to delve into independent research.

1. Theory of Knowledge

Mandatory for all IB students, Theory of Knowledgefocuses on the nature of knowledge. Students uncover how we know what we claim to know based on ideological and personal assumptions. By the end of the course, one becomes aware, with the ability to appreciate the value of diverse cultural perspectives.

ToK has three assessment tasks: an essay, an exhibition, and a journal.

ToK Essay

A Theory of Knowledge essay is a 1,600 words assessment in which you reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know. The essay builds on a prescribed title for which you argue, counter argue, and draw a conclusion.

The essay demands a higher level of thinking. You have to present relevant examples to support your arguments. At the same time, you have to cite the sources used, as outlined in the assessment criteria.

ToK Exhibition

The aim of the ToK exhibition is to show how Theory of Knowledge manifests itself in the real world. You’ll choose a title from one of the IA prompts, identify three unique objects with real-world context, and write a comprehensive commentary that fulfills the aim of the assessment.

To score well, show a clear link between the prompt and objects, present a clear justification of the relevance of the objects, and use evidence to support your arguments.

ToK Journal 

You will have to make a weekly journal entry to show that you understand the Theory of Knowledge course. Mostly, your teacher will look at whether you can show or think about ToK outside your classroom setup.

2. Internal Assessments

An internal assessment refers to any assignment evaluated and graded by your teacher. IB requires you to complete 3 to 5 IAs from across six subject groups. And you’ll base your work on a topic of personal interest. Furthermore, the program requires you to maintain a balance between Standard and Higher Levels in terms of subject distribution.

Some subjects for which you can write an internal assessment are Physics, Economics, Computer Science, English, and Mathematics.

An internal assessment can take the form of oral presentations, essays, artistic performances, lab experiments, mathematical investigations, or written commentaries. And because your teacher grades these papers, consulting them in the event that you feel stuck can significantly improve your overall grades.

The grade distribution for IAs varies based on the subject. For example, sciences account for 20% to the final grade, whereas design and technology can account for about 40%. In this respect, review the assessment criteria for your selected subjects before you start working on the assignment.

On the assessment criteria, they come from IB and not your school. Your teacher then uses them to assess your work. Often, they look at the depth of research, data analysis, personal engagement, conclusion, evaluation, and presentation to determine how many points to assign to you.

3. Extended Essay

The Extended Essay is a crucial component that requires a personalized investigation into a topic of interest. All IB students must write the essay to graduate with a diploma after a two –year period.

Ideally, the essay requires a deeper understanding of the chosen subject beyond classroom learning. Therefore, starting the project early, typically in the first year of the program, goes a long way to ensure your report is timely.  

A well-written extended essay ticks the following boxes:

  • IB Approved Subject: The topic of the report falls within one of the six subject groups approved by IB. These are Language and Literature, Language Acquisition, Individuals and Societies, Sciences, Mathematics, and Arts.
  • Word Count: The report is no more than 4,000 words long. We find that a range of 3,500 to 3,900 words is the sweet spot for nearly all of the reports. While some essays may be longer, especially where one has many arguments to present, editing and trimming down the length to no more than 4,000 words is mandatory.
  • Format: The essay has a solid structure. There’s a title page, contents page, an introduction, body sections, a conclusion, and references and bibliography.
  • Reflections: The essay covers all the three reflection sessions, which is mandatory and accounts for 7% of the final grades.

You’ll work closely with a supervisor who provides support and guidance throughout the writing journey.

4. Creativity, Activity, Service

Creativity, Activity, Service is a core component that expands and enhances a student’s personal and interpersonal learning. It requires the application of knowledge acquired in classroom and the learner profile to real-life experiences.

  • Creativity: You develop and elaborate ideas to produce original or interpretive results.
  • Activity: It focuses on physical exertion that promotes and sustains a healthy lifestyle.
  • Service: You actively take part in the collaborative effort to address the needs of a community.

You need to complete 150 CAS hours, but IB won’t formally grade you for this.

CAS starts at the beginning of the IB Diploma course and lasts for at least 18 months. For the best outcome, maintain a balanced approach to creativity, activity, and service throughout this time.

You’ll have three formal interviews with your CAS coordinator: one at the program’s start, another at the end of the first year, and the final one upon completing the CAS project.

Reflection plays a central role in CAS because it fosters meaningful experiences. Reflection allows you to explore your ideas, skills, strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. Moreover, reflection enables you to apply past learning in new situations.  

Leave a Comment