The May 2017 ToK Essay Titles

IBMastery.comIf you are completing the IB Diploma Program in May 2017, the official Theory of Knowledge essay titles you’ll be working with have been released.

I’ve made some step-by-step help videos and other downloadable resources to help you with your essay if you’d like. Click the blue button below to get full access to these.

And we have ToK Essay Facebook groups. We have one group just for ToK students and another one just for ToK teachers. We’d love to see you in there.

The following are the official prescribed titles for the May 2017 session of Theory of Knowledge essay.

Your essay can be up to 1600 words in length. 

The May 2017 ToK Prescribed Essay Titles

1. “It is only knowledge produced with difficulty that we truly value.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

2. “Facts are needed to establish theories but theories are needed to make sense of facts.” Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge.

3. Should key events in the historical development of areas of knowledge always be judged by the standards of their time?

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Great IB Teachers

First of all I’d like to thank those of you who have already given me some names of great IB teachers. If you’d like to add a nomination, please do that here.


I’m on the lookout for some of the really great IB teachers in the world. I want to connect with them, talk with them and help them spread their best insights.

For example:

Maybe you have a really good IB Biology teacher at your school. Students just love this woman. I could talk with her and then write about one of her exam tips or an insight about how she approaches the course.

I want to learn from great people, so I can make hard things easier for other great people. That’s my mission.

Positive Recognition

I’m hoping a bi-product of this is that I can bring a lot of recognition to a lot of teachers who work really hard, but maybe haven’t gotten a lot of positive attention before. Teaching can be a solitary job sometimes, so it couldn’t hurt to make your favourite teacher internet-famous.

Teachers are welcome to nominate other teachers too. Please do.

I’m hoping a bi-product of this is that I can bring a lot of recognition to a lot of teachers who work really hard, but maybe haven’t gotten a lot of positive attention before. Teaching can be a solitary job sometimes, so it couldn’t hurt to make your teacher internet-famous.

If there’s someone you think deserves a bigger audience, please let me know a bit about them.

Here’s that link again. It takes 60 seconds and your teacher will love you forever.

We all need love.

Even you tough guy.

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How To Beat Stress

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Becoming the best is simple

Life is full of complicated trade-offs, but when you make the decision to be the best at something you’re saying no to almost everything else.

Only when we commit to being the best can we focus completely and do the necessary work.

That kind of commitment takes courage and most people aren’t willing to act with that kind of courage.

Most people never really commit to ambitious goals. They mention things that they’d like to achieve, but they never actually DECIDE to achieve them. So they don’t. And this results in lower self-confidence and confirmation that they should also aim for less next time around.

Making a real decision cuts off all other possibilities. If you decide to be the fastest runner, you don’t have to decide which days you’re going to train. You’re going to train every day. A lot of little decisions have already been made, so you can get on with it. You can do the work and become the best.

If you decide half-way you might never get anywhere.

So, it’s not easy to become the best, but it’s a simple thing. That decision makes everything simple.

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Go with your strengths anyway

10 years ago my wife and I shared a house in London with a guy who worked at a major bank. I’ll call him Jack, but that’s not his real name.

fist2-650x650Jack was hired as a writer. He wrote reports. He had credentials from several impressive colleges and he knew almost everything about finance. Unfortunately, Jack was actually not a great writer. He spoke so many languages that he was always making mistakes.

What Jack could do was speak to anyone and make them love him, almost instantly. He was just that kind of guy. He was always authentic and always comfortable. With a CEO, a well-known politician or a little kid he was always the same: comfortable and completely genuine.

But he still had this problem: he wasn’t great at his job.

The thing I learned from Jack is that you need to go with your strengths.

It’s easy to feel like we can’t do the things we want to do. We’ve got obligations filling up the day. But, really successful people find a way to do the things they love anyway.

Jack made sure to take time to meet every client who walked through the office, even though that was not part of his job. He knew that he was great with people and he enjoyed doing it.

Fast forward 10 years. Jack is now in charge of keeping in contact with the bank’s most important clients and important government officials, around the world. He’s perfect for the job because he is someone anyone would be happy to pick up the phone and call and he understands people so well.

The lesson: As busy as you might get, still take time do the things you’re great at. You’ll become even better at them with more practice. And eventually the world will find a place for you at the top.


If you’re an IB student and you’d like some extra support, IBMastery can help.

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Time to be Amazing

Video notes (related to managing your time and being productive):

Stay in touch. Let’s connect:

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The CUEGIS Answer Method

Preparation-1I know there are a lot of you (IB Business Management students) who haven’t yet gotten the  full CUEGIS video course, so here is part of it that I know will help you as you prepare for the new concepts of exam question (Paper 2, Part C).

This is my step-by-step method for answering these questions, to make sure you get full marks on the exam. 

Remember, this one question can easily bring you up an ENTIRE GRADE level, if you do it right. It’s worth 10% of the whole course.

In this step-by-step CUEGIS-answer method I’m going to be as succinct as possible. I want to give you a simple model you can use and then I’ll show you can example of a perfect answer. (That’s the sample perfect answer in the online course — which is just $6).

First, know that you will have about 34 minutes for this question. And basically we have to follow an Introduction-Body-Conclusion approach. Nothing too hard so far.

The CUEGIS method

The body will address each concept, but mostly just one concept at a time.

The basic model you’ll follow will be CL + CO + CT + CT.

CL = Case link. Give a fact about your chosen company and the first concept.

CO = Concept link. Tell us something interesting about this concept.

CT = Course theory. Use a keyword or idea from the course to develop your insight.

CT = Course theory. Use another keyword or idea from the course to develop your insight further.

Before you start

You need to carefully read the question and decide how you’re going to approach it. You’ve got basically three choices. Each of these basic approaches help you to look at the concepts and your chosen business from two sides.

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How to Answer CUEGIS Questions

www.CUEGIS.comIf you take IB Business Management (HL or SL), you’re probably a bit nervous about the new CUEGIS questions.

The CUEGIS question (Part C, in your final Paper 2 Examination) will be worth 10% of your mark in the course. The difference between a 4 and a 6 in IB Business is 11%, so this one essay could have a huge affect on how well you do.

But people are finding it challenging to prepare for because it’s completely new to the IB. And it’s a very different type of assessment than we’ve had before in IB Business Management. Your teachers haven’t seen these questions before either, so it’s new to everyone.

I’ve created this mini-course, which will teach you everything you need to know about this question in 3 hours or less. 

It’s available at

If you’re already feeling ready for these questions, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re at all unsure about these questions, then this course will get you ready.

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A school without limits

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 10.33.10 pmAlmost everyone starts kindergarten full of curiosity, enthusiasm and big opinions about things. And very few graduate that way.

Why is that?

Modern schools make pragmatists of all of us.

As an educator, I consider my primary responsibilities to be building students’ enthusiasm for learning and building their ability to learn on their own. I don’t like thinking that schools themselves are somehow acting against their own aims.

So what would a school look like that was designed by students and run by students? Honestly, I fear it would end up looking a lot like the schools we have already. Because we all, so easily get so used to the way things are already. It becomes hard to imagine successful alternatives. We need not only fresh eyes, but also the insights of geniuses.

The tide is turning though. Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk about school’s killing creativity is the most popular Ted Talk ever. He’s bold, admonishing and hard to disagree with.

Those of us who really believe in the potential of education to empower people need to do as much as we can to make schools places much more about freedom, confidence-building and fun. And perhaps less about pragmatism and assessment.

I’d like my own sons to graduate even more curious, more enthusiastic, more confident and more opinionated than they were going in. And hilarious –I’d like school to make my boys as funny as possible.

Photo credit: Sam Sherratt

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Positive and Negative Motivation


Motivated people find a way. They don’t need everything to be perfect before they can work. They just do it. They push through with what’s available.

Motivated people can handle discomfort for the moment, because they know that what’s coming is worth it.

Is there a way to become motivated if you aren’t motivated already? Yes.

Here’s how.

If you’d like to do this, we’re going to go positive and then go negative. We’re going to heighten your positive and negative emotions around one of your goals. 

I want to warn you that this exercise can be quite powerful. It takes about 10 minutes and it will definitely increase your motivation. Maybe dramatically.

Here we go.

Write down the answers to these questions or say the answers out loud to really lock in the experience. It’s not enough to simply read the questions. The power comes from you really thinking through your answers in a personal way. Take at least a full minute for each question.

Positive Questions

  1. What is a very specific goal you care about achieving?
  2. What will it mean to you to achieve your goal?
  3. What else will be great about achieving your target?
  4. How will that make you feel?
  5. What will other people think about you when you achieve your goal?
  6. What else will be possible for you and for the people you care about when you reach your target?

Negative Questions

  1. In what ways would your life be worse if you didn’t achieve your goal?
  2. What is the worst thing that could happen if you didn’t reach your target?
  3. How would that make you feel?
  4. What else could go wrong if you didn’t achieve your goal?
  5. How would that affect you and the people around you?
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