ToK Exhibition Commentary: The Complete Guide for IB

This is the complete guide to ToK exhibition commentary. Here, we show you exactly how to write the 950-word document, which forms an integral part of the Theory of Knowledge assessment.

We look at:

  • What a  commentary in ToK is
  • The steps to write a comprehensive commentary
  • How to structure the commentary and
  • Tips to help you write the commentary fast and comprehensively

Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

The steps to write an exhibition commentary are as follows:

  1. Choose an IA prompt.
  2. Select the most relevant objects.
  3. Plan your project.
  4. Write your commentary.
  5. Submit the exhibition file.
  6. Do your presentation.

If you already know the ins and outs of ToK exhibition but don’t have the time to complete the project, take advantage of our exhibition help and benefit from the convenience of our custom research and writing.

Otherwise, continue reading this guide to learn more.

What’s a ToK Exhibition Commentary?

The ToK exhibition commentary is a 950-word assignment that accounts for 33% of the final Theory of Knowledge grades.

Because the exhibition is an individual project, you don’t have the right to hold group discussions with your classmates. If you do, you risk the issue of objects overlap, which can lead to scoring a zero instead of an excellent.

The exhibition is usually a two-part project. The first is the presentation, which your ToK teacher won’t grade. And the second part is the commentary, which counts in your final grades.

How to Write a ToK Exhibition Commentary

The following are the steps on how to write a ToK exhibition commentary:

1. Select an IA Prompt

Read the list of the 35 prescribed titles and choose one IA prompt.

You should be able to link the prompt to one of the optional themes or to the core theme in Theory of Knowledge.

2. Choose Your Objects

Research and select three objects for exhibition. You’ll need these objects to fulfill the aim of the project, which is to demonstrate how ToK manifests itself in the real world within the context of the selected prompt.

IB instructs teachers to award 10 out of 10 to excellent exhibition documents. To stand the chance to get the highest score, ensure you choose the best objects for the commentary.

Generally, your objects should:

  • Exist in a particular space and time
  • Not be generic or symbolic
  • Have a real-world context
  • Link to the IA prompt and relate to the core or optional theme

One last thing to keep in mind is that your objects must be 100% independent to you. In other words, another student in your classroom shouldn’t present the same objects as theirs. That’s why you shouldn’t hold group discussions to talk about these objects.

3. Plan Your Exhibition Project

Your goal is to score an excellent for the exhibition. So if you’ve selected an interesting prompt and identified the right set of objects, you’re a step closer to scooping the top marks.

The next step is to plan your project accordingly. Thus, look at the assignment guideline provided by IB to your school for further assistance.

Of course, IB discourages you from holding group discussions in your class. However, you can talk to your teacher about this project and use their feedback for proper planning.

  • Talk about the prompt that you’ve chosen.
  • Let your teacher know why you’ve selected the prompt.
  • Discuss the objectives of the objects and the relationship you have with them as a knower.
  • Finally, discuss the context of your exhibition, as well as how you’ll demonstrate how ToK manifests itself in the real world. 

4. Write Your Commentary

The next step is to write your commentary. This shouldn’t take you long because the assignment isn’t long at all.

Keep the length of the commentary in mind when writing. Remember, IB advises ToK teachers NOT to assess anything beyond the stated word count.

Your commentary should mention the three objects you selected in the second step, not to mention define these objects and explain their real-world context.

In your explanation, ensure you show the relationship between the IA prompt that you chose and the three objects (or images of the objects) that you selected.

The commentary should include reasonable evidence for the points made, and there must be a justification for including each object in the commentary.

How to Structure a ToK Exhibition Commentary

The following is the structure to use for the ToK Exhibition commentary:

Write the Title

The title of your Theory of Knowledge Exhibition is the question you choose from the list of the IA prompts.

Write the title exactly as it is. Also, make sure you include the prompt number.

You can refer to our ToK Exhibition examples guide for clarity.

Have an Introduction (30 Words)

The commentary doesn’t need an introduction, but having one can go a long way to frame your explanation.

Here, state what you understand about the prompt you’ve selected and why it’s a good question to explore and answer. 

Your introduction should be 30 words max.

Describe Your First Object (290 Words)

For this part:

  • Add the image of the first object immediately after the introduction. Center the image of the object, and ensure that it takes no more than a quarter of the page.
  • Next, define the object and explain its real-world context.
  • Ensure you mention that the object in question is real, that you have used it to a given capacity, and that you know about it.
  • Then, explain why and in what way your object answers the question you selected.
  • Remember to link the real-world context of the object to the prompt with a clear explanation of the relationship between these objects and the chosen prompt.

If you intend to describe an object that you don’t use yourself, such as a tweet by Donald Trump, ensure you mention the real-world context within which that object exists.  

Work on Your Second Object (290 Words)

For this part:

  • Include the image of the second object. The image should be at the center and take only a quarter of the page.
  • Define your object, describe its real-world context, and then develop your explanation. 
  • Link your object’s explanation to the context of your IA prompt.

Keep in mind that the explanation that you give for your second object cannot be the same to that of the first object.

Describe Your Third Object (290 Words)

For this part:

  • Include an image of your third object, making sure you center it and that it takes no more than a quarter of the page.
  • Define what the image is, give its real-world context, and explain its relevance to the IA prompt.
  • Link your explanation back to the IA prompt.

Ensure that the points you make for the third object isn’t the same thing you’ve stated for the second and third object.

Conclusion (50 Words)

The conclusion of your commentary should be no more than 50 words long.

Here’s where you tie everything together by describing what your object show as the answer to the selected IA prompt.

Remember, the goal is to use the objects selected for the prompt to show how ToK manifests itself to the world around you.

Tips for Writing a TOK Exhibition Commentary

Here are some tips to help you write a concise and a more comprehensive exhibition commentary:

1. Ensure Your Objects Are Unique

Your objects, or images of objects, must be independent to you. No one else in your class should present the same objects as yours.

To reinforce this rule, IB states clearly that you should not hold group discussions with your peers.

Also, you cannot download images from the internet and use them as objects. The exhibition assessment criteria require that you capture the images yourself instead.

2. Make Sure Your Images Aren’t Generic 

You should not select generic objects (or images of objects) for the commentary. Remember that every object belong in a particular time and place.

While your objects (or images of objects) can be physical or digital, you can only select what creates a link between your IA prompt and the commentary.

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