Essay Assessment criteria

Using the assessment criteria

The method of assessment used by the IBO is criterion-related. That is to say, the method of assessing the essay on a prescribed title and the presentation in TOK judges each in relation to identified assessment criteria and not in relation to the work of other students.

Part 1 Essay on a prescribed title

A. Understanding knowledge issues

This criterion is concerned with the extent to which the essay focuses on knowledge issues relevant to the prescribed title, and with the depth and breadth of the understanding demonstrated in the essay.

A relevant knowledge issue is one that directly relates to the prescribed title undertaken, or one that the essay has shown is important in relation to it.

Depth of understanding is often indicated by drawing distinctions within ways of knowing and areas of knowledge, or by connecting several facets of knowledge issues to these.

Breadth of understanding is often indicated by making comparisons between ways of knowing and areas of knowledge. Since not all prescribed titles lend themselves to an extensive treatment of an equal range of areas of knowledge or ways of knowing, this element in the descriptors should be applied with concern for the particularity of the title.

Achievement level

Descriptor

0

Level 1 is not achieved.

1–2

The essay includes very little treatment of knowledge issues that are relevant to the prescribed title and demonstrates little understanding of them. If present, areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing are merely mentioned.

3–4

The essay includes some treatment of knowledge issues that are relevant to the prescribed title and demonstrates a rudimentary understanding of them. Some links to areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing have been attempted but they are largely ineffective.

5–6

For the most part the essay treats knowledge issues that are relevant to the prescribed title, and demonstrates some understanding of them. Some effective links are drawn between areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing.

7–8

The essay consistently maintains as its focus knowledge issues that are relevant to the prescribed title. Effective links and some comparisons between areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing are drawn, so that the essay demonstrates a good understanding of the knowledge issues under consideration.

9–10

The essay consistently maintains as its focus knowledge issues that are relevant to the prescribed title. Effective links and comparisons between areas of knowledge and/or ways of knowing are elaborated, so that the essay demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the knowledge issues under consideration.

B. Knower's perspective

Achievement level

Descriptor

0

Level 1 is not achieved.

1–2

The essay shows no evidence of independent thinking about the knowledge issues related to the prescribed title. There is limited personal engagement with the knowledge issues and no attempt to acknowledge or explore different perspectives. There are no appropriate examples.

3–4

The essay shows very little evidence of independent thinking about the knowledge issues related to the prescribed title. There is some personal engagement with the knowledge issues. Different perspectives may be mentioned but there is no attempt to explore them. Examples chosen are sometimes appropriate.

5–6

The essay shows some evidence of independent thinking about the knowledge issues related to the prescribed title. The student has shaped the essay in a way that shows personal engagement with the knowledge issues. There is an awareness that different perspectives may exist, although there may be little attempt to explore these. Examples chosen are appropriate, although there may be little variety in their sources.

7–8

The essay shows adequate evidence of independent thinking about the knowledge issues related to the prescribed title. The student has shaped the essay in a way that shows thoughtful, personal engagement with the knowledge issues and some self-awareness as a knower. There is an acknowledgment of different perspectives and some attempt to explore these. Examples chosen are effective, with some variety.

9–10

The essay shows much evidence of independent thinking about the knowledge issues related to the prescribed title. The student has shaped the essay in a way that shows both a personal, reflective exploration of the knowledge issues and significant self-awareness as a knower. There is serious consideration of different perspectives. Examples chosen are varied and effectively used.

C. Quality of analysis of knowledge issues

This criterion is concerned only with knowledge issues that are relevant to the prescribed title. Analysis of knowledge issues that are not relevant to the prescribed title is not assessed.

Achievement level

Descriptor

0

Level 1 is not achieved.

1–2

There is no inquiry into knowledge issues, only description. There are very few attempts at justifying the main points of the essay. There is very little evidence of any awareness of counterclaims.

3–4

The inquiry partly explores, but largely describes, knowledge issues. There is some justification of main points and some coherent argument. Counterclaims are implicitly identified.

5–6

The inquiry explores knowledge issues. Most points are justified; most arguments are coherent. Some counterclaims are considered.

7–8

The inquiry explores with some insight, in some depth and/or detail, knowledge issues. All, or nearly all, main points are justified and arguments are coherent. Counterclaims are explored. Implications of the essay's argument are identified.

9–10

The inquiry explores with a high degree of insight, in considerable depth and/or detail, knowledge issues. All main points are justified and arguments are coherent and compelling. Counterclaims are explored and evaluated. Implications and underlying assumptions of the essay's argument are identified.

D. Organization of ideas

An essay that fails to meet the word limit of 1,200–1,600 words will not score above level 4 on this criterion.

An essay that has no relevance to the prescribed title will score 0 on this criterion.

Achievement level

Descriptor

0

Level 1 is not achieved.

1–2

The essay on the prescribed title is very poorly structured, with little overall organization. It is difficult to understand what the writer intends. Factual information used to support arguments may contain significant inaccuracies. Sources of information and ideas may not be acknowledged and there is no attempt at referencing.

3–4

The essay on the prescribed title is poorly structured, with limited overall organization. It is sometimes difficult to understand what the writer intends. There may be some attempt to explain or explore the meaning of terms but this contributes little to conceptual clarity. Factual information used to support arguments is not always reliable (there may be minor inaccuracies; sources of more important information may be missing or unreliable). Some sources of information and ideas are acknowledged; there is some attempt at referencing but it is not complete, nor sufficiently precise to permit tracing of sources.

5–6

The essay on the prescribed title is satisfactorily structured, with adequate overall organization. In general, concepts are used clearly: if concepts are explained, explanations are generally adequate. Factual information used to support arguments is mostly correct. Most sources of information and ideas are acknowledged; most referencing permits tracing of sources, although some precision may be lacking. The word limit has been met.

7–8

The essay on the prescribed title is well structured, with a clear overall organization. Concepts are used or developed clearly: some explanations are included, where appropriate. Factual information used to support arguments is correct. Sources of information and ideas are acknowledged; most referencing permits tracing of sources. The word limit has been met.

9–10

The essay on the prescribed title is very well structured, with an effective overall organization. Concepts are used clearly and, where appropriate, refined by helpful explanations. Factual information used to support arguments is correct. Sources of information and ideas are acknowledged; all referencing permits tracing of sources. The word limit has been met.

Note

In cases where an essay deserves a high mark for its quality of organization and clarity, but a low mark because of factual inaccuracy or lack of sourcing (or vice versa), examiners will make a judgment about which level to award. In general, more emphasis should be placed on the larger issues (organization and clarity) and less on the more minor ones (factual accuracy and sourcing). An important consideration is the status of the error or unsourced fact in the overall argument. If it is of marginal significance, little or no account should be taken of it. If it is central to the whole argument and undermines the value of the entire essay, then it can be argued that the quality of organization is itself much reduced. Conversely, meticulous acknowledgment of sources cannot improve the organization of a poorly structured essay.

 

 

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