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Calling All Theory Of Knowledge Teachers: How Did You Feel About How IB Examiners Scored Essays This Year?


As regular readers know, in addition to teaching several classes to English Language Learners, I also teach IB Theory of Knowledge.

I’ve shared a lot about it on this blog (see The Best Theory Of Knowledge Resources In 2015 – So Far).

This was the first time IB graded our TOK essays since the new curriculum guide, which included a new rubric, was implemented. And we were very surprised at the marks. Usually, the examiners generally agreed with the marks we gave them — typically one or two A’s, two or three B’s, and most of the rest C’s. This year, however, the marks were very different from the ones we had given — some A’s were downgraded to C’s; some D’s were upgraded to B’s.

We just received the examiner’s notes from our student essays and, though the Examiner’s comments were pretty minimal (and, in some cases, non-existent), it did seem like our students were “dinged” for using some “hypothetical examples” (which seems like a reasonable critique and, truth be told, I had never raised with students) and for not explicitly connecting examples to answering the question (which I push a lot and, truth be told, I think our students did pretty well).

I’m wondering if our experience – years of basic agreement with Examiner marks and then this year’s dramatic change – reflects other TOK teachers experiences or if it just might be a situation particular to us.

Let me know….

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I was greatly disappointed in the scoring of my TOK Students this year. Some of my predicted “A” students scored a 3/10 on the essay! I also have the added perspective of being an examiner this session. Going back to those same essays, I was very disappointed to see some of them with absolutely zero feedback written on them. 🙁 I can only reason that these scripts were read by examiners before they were “kicked off” the system.

  2. I re-trained online in the summer of ’14. Then I underscored the samples with the new rubric. When my TOK students received their marks in the summer of ’15 for May Exam Session, I was surprised at some of those with the lowest marks. No other surprises, but since I was the only person reviewing, I wonder how I scored high ones well and missed out on the “dingers” for those others.
    I have not yet reviewed the dvd that just arrived. Feeling I might need an Oreogn Pinot for this session.

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