Once you get the set of prescribed titles for your cohort, the first step is going through each one and analyzing the key terms.

5. Are visual representations always helpful in the communication of knowledge? Discuss with reference to the human sciences and mathematics.

Are visual representations always helpful” – Make sure that your essay clearly answers this question.  Your investigation of different AOKs and different specific examples throughout your answer may lead to multiple answers to the question which is perfectly fine.  Your essay does not have to have one definitive answer to this question – in fact an essay that has one definitive answer to this question is likely flawed.

visual representations” – charts, diagrams, models of the atom, maps, a painting of a WWI battle are a few examples of visual representations. Models of the atom, for example, can be helpful in explaining some characteristics of the atom but the model may simply or exclude key aspects of the atom.  A painting of the battle of the Somme in WWI may provide some information about it, but what if the painter was not at the battle or did not even fight in WWI?  Even if the painter had been in the battle, his or her depiction of the situation might be affected by bias, limited information, patriotism, etc.

always” – there may be nothing in TOK that you could argue is “always” anything.  Successful essays avoid one-sided arguments and should look at a situation and a prescribed title from a variety of angles / perspectives.

helpful” – if you choose May 2023 TOK prescribed title #5 you could view “helpful” in a number of different ways.  However, all of these ways should be directly connected to knowledge. Look closely at specific examples where visual representations are helpful or are not helpful in the production or acquisition of knowledge.   

communication of knowledge” – there are many different ways in which knowledge can be communicated. Analyze specific examples where visual representations play a role in communicating knowledge and look at the precise way knowledge is communicated. Make sure you can evaluate whether or not it is helpful.

TOK prescribed titles frequently use phrases such as the “sharing of knowledge” and the “acquisition of knowledge” but May 2023 prescribed title #5 may be the first time that the phrase “communication of knowledge” has been used.  “Communication of knowledge” can include both “sharing” and “acquisition” though. 

May 2023 TOK essay #5 should only discuss the AOK(s) mentioned in the prescribed title.