International Baccalaureate Organization 2020
May 2021 examination session
Theory of knowledge prescribed titles
Instructions to candidates
Your theory of knowledge essay for examination must be submitted to your teacher for
authentication. It must be written on one of the six titles (questions) provided overleaf. You may
choose any title, but are recommended to consult with your teacher. Your essay will be marked
according to the assessment instrument published in the theory of knowledge guide. The focus
of your essay should be on knowledge questions. Where appropriate, refer to other parts of your
IB programme and to your experiences as a knower. Always justify your statements and provide
relevant examples to illustrate your arguments. Pay attention to the implications of your arguments,
and remember to consider what can be said against them. If you use external sources, cite them
according to a recognized convention.
Note that statements in quotations in these titles are not necessarily authentic: they present a real
point of view but may not be direct quotes. It is appropriate to analyse them but it is unnecessary,
even unwise, to spend time on researching a context for them.
Examiners mark essays against the title as set. Respond to the title exactly as given; do not alter it
in any way.
Your essay must have a maximum of 1600 words.
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“Accepting knowledge claims always involves an element of trust.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
Within areas of knowledge, how can we differentiate between change and progress? Answer with reference to two areas of knowledge.
“Labels are a necessity in the organization of knowledge, but they also constrain our understanding.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
“Statistics conceal as much as they reveal.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
“Areas of knowledge are most useful in combination with each other.” Discuss this claim with reference to two areas of knowledge.
“Avoiding bias seems a commendable goal, but this fails to recognize the positive role that bias can play in the pursuit of knowledge.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.
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