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Why IB Students Fail TOK Exhibition? 😱

The theory of knowledge is one of the most challenging components of the IB for most students. Not only do students have to write an essay for the theory of knowledge, but they also have to work on a TOK exhibition. This exhibition is worth 33% of the entire grade. So, students try very hard to score high on this. In this article, you will learn about why students fail the TOK exhibition and what they can do when they fail. This will help you decipher a better course of action once you fail.

Many IB students struggle to work their way through this crucial part of the process, and in some cases, there might be issues with their TOK exhibition that can even cause failure. That’s why it is crucial to understand why students failed their TOK exhibition and what to do next.

What to do if you fail a TOK exhibition?

When you fail your IB TOK exhibition, you must retake it if you wish to score better. However, another option you have right ahead of you is to check how well you scored on the TOK essay. Since this part makes up around 33% of the final grade, you have to check how well you did on the other part to see if you failed the entire thing.

BAD NEWS! If you failed your TOK essay as well, the only option is to retake both TOKs. If you didn’t work well enough and scored “E” on your extended essay, you are in trouble…you’ll need to retake the IB Diploma course. As one famous song says: “Sad but true…”

If you are only thinking about writing your exhibition or started working on it, let’s go on to understand further why students fail the TOK exhibition. If you have better knowledge of this, you can work your way through things well, eventually allowing you to do better.

Why do students fail the TOK exhibition?

Students make a few very common mistakes when working on the TOK exhibition, which can also lead them to fail.

fail your ib tok exhibition

So let’s figure out what are those mistakes to avoid them while working on your TOK exhibition.

Not Choosing a Good Prompt

The first thing you have to do when working on a TOK exhibition is to choose the prompt. If you choose the prompt that you aren’t very comfortable working with, you will surely not be able to do justice to it either and might end up failing if you do a miserable job on it. Some students choose a prompt based on what they think they will have to include in the exhibition or just out of sheer excitement.

The right way to choose a prompt is first to read the list of 35 questions and understand what each requires from you. Then, once you know, you can brainstorm what you can write in each of these. Then only after that should you start working on the TOK exhibition.

Once you choose a good prompt to work on, you need to make sure that you do justice to it. Make the commentary as interesting as you can. This is one of the most important things to ensure that you keep the examiner’s interest up.

Picking the Wrong Objects

Another very big TOK exhibition failure is picking the wrong objects. As you already know, you have to pick a total of three objects and then relate each of those to the prompt and the theme you selected. When choosing objects, you must be careful that you meet all the requirements expected of you.

If you choose the wrong objects, it can lead to many problems, and you can also end up failing. The objects you choose should exist in real time and space, should not simply be symbolic, relate to the prompt given, and have some sort of real-world context. If you follow the right guidelines, you can choose the best objects.

Discussing with Other Students

The TOK exhibition is an individual assignment, which means that you don’t have to discuss it with others when you work on it. If you discuss it with others, then there is a similarity between your work and others’ work, which is visible in your work. The examiner is extremely experienced and can easily tell when students have produced certain work after discussing it with each other.

discuss your tok exhibition in group

The work you do needs to be very unique for you to score well. Discussing with other students can lead to conceptual plagiarism, eventually making you lose out.

Incorrect Commentary

You have to follow a certain structure for the TOK exhibition commentary as well. Try to be very stringent with that structure and follow it to the very core to be able to do a sound job. If you aren’t fully aware of what is required, go through the guide first and fully understand what is required before you start writing. Then, follow it step by step to ensure that you’re on the right track with what you are doing.

Starting the Task Late

The TOK exhibition can be very challenging. You need to give it your very best to do a decent job on it. If you start last minute, it leaves you very little time to actually work on the task and give your utmost best which is required from you. So you must always plan in accordance and start on time so that you can complete your work on time too. If you start late, your chances of going wrong to become bigger then.

High Plagiarism

When you submit your work, your examiners check it first for plagiarism to ensure that you have turned in work that is uniquely your work. So you must submit work that you have produced yourself in entirety. If you submit plagiarised work, then you have a very high chances of failing at what you do. So always try to submit work that you have done all by yourself.

High plagiarism reflects badly on you as a student. It shows that you are careless and that you don’t have a thought-out approach to what you are doing. So always make sure that you have enough properly cited references and that your work is original right from scratch.

Not Linking Prompts and Themes

If you have chosen the right objects and have also chosen a prompt that you have ample know how to work on, it is important that you link those up correctly for you to do a decent job on the TOK exhibition.

If you don’t link the objects to the prompt and the themes correctly, it shows a lack of understanding from your end, and you might even eventually fail. Therefore, it is important that you draw the right links only after which you can explain your point of view very well.

Follow the IB criteria and this guide to score well

So if you are an IB student and are worried about how well you can do on the TOK exhibition, then you can follow the right structure. Know what is required from you and then start working on it so that you can do justice to what you are working on. This is one of the most important things there is to allow you to work your way through things correctly.

Should you need assistance with your TOK exhibition or TOK essay, our team of IB writers can lend you a hand.


You can order a TOK written from scratch or ask for our experts to proofread and edit your draft following the latest IB criteria. If you decided to write your TOK exhibition on your own, be mindful of the mistakes many people make when they work on this part of the theory of knowledge, and then make a conscious effort to avoid those mistakes to help you work your way through them best.

Vasy Kafidoff

Vasy Kafidoff is the co-founder of the Writing Metier. Being in the education field for a very long time, his experience speaks volumes about his knowledge. He aims to make more people aware of new learning possibilities for children. When not working, he’s found behind a drum kit.

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