THE FINAL Essay
Any dictionary definition—even worse if earnestly and pedantically cited
Phrases like, “Since the dawn of time...”
Simply quoting a famous philosopher or other authority out of context and then saying, “therefore”...
The conspicuous absence of any multi-cultural or international point of reference.
Presenting an essay lacking even a single reference to a direct experience that arose during one of your IB classes.
Enormous paragraphs or no paragraphs at all
Unjustified broad generalizations
actual errors... double check everything
Banal examples like dead pet stories, school gossip or Disney film characters
Using obscure terms without even briefly explaining them
Unintentional tautology (circular reasoning)
Procrastinating to the last moment so that you unable to edit your own work with a fresh critical eye
During my own time as a TOK examiner, grading hundreds of randomly selected essays from all over the world, it was very often obvious when a teacher had, for whatever reason, taken a completely hands off approach, and left a weaker student to sink or swim. Over the years some very precise guidelines for the role of the teacher in preparation and planning have evolved. These interventions are clearly defined in the Subject Guide.
REFLECTIONS ON THE VERY BEST TOK ESSAYS
Every TOK Examiner knows that in each examination session there are brilliant students from around the world whose essays are a provocative delight from beginning to end. These essays (with, perhaps, some minimal editing) really are “almost fit for publication.”
At this level, there is some sense that “all bets are off.” The written criteria are at least partially transcended. There is a kind of free-spirited audacity in the selection of examples and deliberate playfulness in pushing the logical implications in novel directions. The reader is taken along for the ride, with twists an turns and the to and fro of multiple perspective and counterclaim. At the uppermost levels there is nothing less than virtuosity. Well-chosen, non-cliched, varied, artfully worked through examples can actually astonish! Like a great short story the details can be savored and remain with the reader.