If you look at enough sample TOK essays you will see there are two ways to state knowledge questions: explicitly and implicitly.

Explicit knowledge questions

Explicit knowledge question are stated directly. Look at the following examples:

  • To what extent knowledge gained from ancient art as relevant as knowledge gained from modern art?
  • How can music effectively produce knowledge without emotion?
  • To what extent is economics research in one society applicable to other societies?

Explicit knowledge questions are clear and direct. The fact that they are stated in the form of a question means they can be easier for the reader (i.e. marker) to find. Students writing a TOK essay in their non-native language may find it easier to use explicit knowledge questions.

It is important your knowledge questions are smoothly incorporated into your body paragraphs. You want to avoid stating them in a clunky or jarring way. The sentences before and after an explicit knowledge question need to have a good flow.

Implicit knowledge questions

Implicit knowledge question are not stated in the form of a question. They are sometimes viewed as a bit more sophisticated than explicit knowledge questions because it can take better writing skills to write a knowledge question implicitly. However, there is nothing in the TOK essay assessment instrument that awards more points to an essay that uses implicit knowledge questions.

Examples of implicit knowledge questions:

  • It is possible that knowledge gained from ancient art differs in its relevance compared to knowledge gained from modern art.
  • Music may require emotion to produce knowledge. 
  • Research in economics done in one society may not be completely applicable to other societies.