Are you taking IB Economics but feel you aren't learning enough from your class alone? Maybe you need more explanation of certain economics topics? If you need some help in your IB Economics SL/HL class, this study guide is for you. I’ve gathered all of the best free IB Economics study guides and notes into one useful article. This IB Economics study guide is organized according to the IB Economics Syllabus.
How to Use These IB Economics Notes and Study Guide
If you are looking for help with one topic, use the Command + F function on your keyboard to search this article for that topic. For instance, if you want to learn more about Markets, use Command + F to bring up the search function. Type in “Markets” and it’ll bring up all of the study materials for Markets.
I separated the resources into:
- Quick reference: one-page summary of material if you just need a quick refresher.
- Longer notes: notes (generally 3-10 pages) if you need more of an in-depth explanation.
How Should You Use This Article During the School Year?
If there are any subjects that you feel you don't completely understand after learning them in class, use these notes to review them and fill any knowledge gaps. You should also use these notes to regulary review past topics you covered in class to be sure you don't forget earlier topics and have to cram right before the exam.
To score well on the IB Economics exam, you should be studying and reviewing the topics you cover in class throughout the year. This will help you cement this information in your mind so you're not struggling for answers on test days.
In addition to these notes, you should also take several practice tests. This will help you test your knowledge and get a better idea of how well you'll score on test day. Find IB Economics HL and IB Economics SL past papers, Free and Official, in our other article.
Common Study Mistakes for IB Economics SL/HL
It's important to avoid falling behind in IB Economics SL/HL; there's just too much material to learn easily if you get significantly behind. You need to master the topics during the school year to ace your IB Economics papers. Some common mistakes are:
- Avoiding topics you don’t understand in class. If you didn’t learn it in class, you need to look for help elsewhere whether through this IB Economics study guide or tutoring.
- Waiting to study until a week or two before the papers. There are a lot of concepts to master. A week or two is not enough time to learn them all (that is why IB Economics is taught over 1 to 2 years). Learn the topics as you’re supposed to learn them in class. Use this study guide if you need extra help.
Section 1: Microeconomics
1.1 Competitive markets: demand and supply (some topics HL only)
1.3 Government intervention (some topics HL extension, plus one topic HL only)
1.4 Market failure (some topics HL only)
1.5 Theory of the firm and market structures (HL only)
Section 2: Macroeconomics
2.1 The level of overall economic activity (one topic HL extension)
2.2 Aggregate demand and aggregate supply (one topic HL only)
2.3 Macroeconomic objectives (some topics HL extension, plus one topic HL only)
2.4 Fiscal policy
2.5 Monetary policy
2.6 Supply-side policies
Section 3: International Economics
3.1 International trade (one topic HL extension, plus one topic HL only)
3.2 Exchange rates (some topics HL extension)
3.3 The balance of payments (one topic HL extension, plus some topics HL only)
3.4 Economic integration (one topic HL extension)
3.5 Terms of trade (HL only)
Section 4: Development Economics
4.1 Economic development
4.2 Measuring development
4.3 The role of domestic factors
4.4 The role of international trade (one topic HL extension)
4.5 The role of foreign direct investment (FDI)
4.6 The roles of foreign aid and multilateral development assistance
4.7 The role of international debt
4.8 The balance between markets and intervention
Learn more about IB Economics:
Want some more IB Economics study materials? Check out our guide to every IB Economics past paper available, including free and official papers.
Looking for more info on what IB Economics covers? Read our complete guide to the IB Economics syllabus to learn every topic that will be covered in the course.
Wondering which other IB classes you can take? Take a look at the complete list of IB courses to see what your options are.
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How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay
The following structure is a very good, step-by-step method you can use on any ToK essay to get very high marks.
Here are the main things to keep in mind when you're using this method:
- Your #1 priority is answering the prescribed title. If you somehow follow this method, but don't answer the question you won't score well. So make sure you keep linking back to the question as you go.
- Try to use original, interesting evidence.
(I have a full a lot of helpful advice, tutorials, evidence videos in my online ToK course, which you're welcome to join if you like. Or, if you just need some TOK Notes you can get those here.)
And I've also made a help page (similar to this) for the TOK presentation, here.
Okay here we go...
The structure on this page will give you a strong foundation for your essay and then we're going to make your essay as insightful as possible.
First, choose your PT and KQ
Before you can begin your real/final essay, you’ll want to look at the Prescribed Title (something like: “What is it about mathematics and science that makes them so convincing?” and think about it.
Get some of your initial ideas down on paper.
Second, choose 1 WOK and 2 AOKs
Now, take your prescribed title and choose two AOKs to explore it with (here are my notes: Mathematics, Human sciences, Natural Sciences, the Arts, Ethics, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Religious Knowledge Systems, or History). Or you can use WOKs: (again here are my notes: Emotion, Faith, Sense perception, Reason, Imagination, Intuition, Language, Memory). Then you can explore these aspects in your essay.
I normally recommend exploring just 2 AoK's in the main body of your essay and then include a few insights into WOKs around the edges (more on this in a bit).
The essay contains two body sections (or "developments"). Each body section will look at a certain area of knowledge or way of knowing.
To explore the question we chose above, it's pretty easy to choose our AOKs because they are actually listed in the question. We'll be using Mathematics and Natural Science.
The courtroom analogy
The TOK essay is about knowledge (how we come to know things). It helps to think of the essay as though you're showing the most interesting bits of a conversation between two smart people, about how we know things.
Or you could think about it like presenting two sides of an argument, in front of a judge. Each side needs to present evidence.
One lawyer is saying YES (i.e. reason is reliable, with examples) and the other is pointing out the weaknesses in what lawyer 1 is saying (i.e. reason is often not reliable, also with examples).
Your lawyer will make the case that you can’t be guilty of robbing the bank (her thesis), by using several arguments (claims); she’ll show that
- You weren’t there
- You’re are a moral person and
- You don’t have the technical knowledge to pull off a job like that.
However, if your lawyer was a ToK student they would also be explaining reasons why you might be guilty (the counterclaims).
- Someone said they saw you there,
- You admitted to lying to your mom about candy one time and
- You are pretty good at computers.
The lawyers would use evidence to support each of these claims and counterclaims.
Making sure your evidence actually supports your claim is one of the toughest aspects of the essay.
The step-by-step method
The method has 4 sections and 7 paragraphs overall and specific aspects need to go in each.
First, write your introduction, using 150-200 words
-Say 2 interesting things about the prescribed title. "Many people find Mathematics and Natural Science very convincing. However, many of these same people would say that they don't have a strong understanding of either of these two fields. Both of these fields rely on rigorous methodologies."
-Define one or two of the key terms in the title. Here I might define Mathematics and Natural Science. (I would also look up the term "convincing". I might not include that definition in my essay, but I would like to know whether there are any conflicting definitions. That might help me say interesting things later on in the essay--for example in the conclusion.)
-Narrow in on one aspect which is particularly interesting. "This essay with focus on the link between replicability of results, as a source of reliability."
-State your thesis. What is your short answer to the prescribed title, your thesis. (You might decide, by the end of your essay, that your initial thinking was wrong, but you should know the point your claims are going to be supporting).
-Give us a roadmap, a sentence that gives us a preview. This shows us what you’re going to do in your body paragraphs (your "developments"). Tell us AOKs you're going to use and which WOK you will be focused on most. This will make it easy for the marker to know what to look for. An example: “Mathematics can be seen as more reliable because it uses reason. Natural science can be less reliable because it relies on observation. ”
Next write your first development. 2 paragraphs totalling 600 words
-Claim. A claim a topic sentence that outlines your argument about the prescribed title. For example you could claim that, “Mathematics can be relied on because it is a purely logical system.”
-Explain. Elaborate and clarify your claim. “Mathematics is axiomatic and independent of subjective experience.“
-Example. A real life example, to clarify and support the claim from your own experience. Examples should be personal, specific, precise and real. Did something happen in your Science class? Did you have a conversation with your or hear a story from your grandfather? These are evidence from your own life rather than examples from Darwin or Lincoln. So you could talk about how, “In mathematics we learned that the inside angles of a triangle, in Euclidian space, sum up to 180 degrees.”
-Counter-claim. Argue against your claim above. “However, it is possible to come to different conclusions using different systems of mathematics.”
-Example. An example that supports your counter claim. “There are different It is not possible to demonstrate that the interior angles of a triangle equal 180 degrees in Euclidian space, this cannot be proven within other systems, such as spherical geometry or hyperbolic geometry.”
-Link to prescribed title. Quickly sum up the (complicated) insights of this section. “It is therefore clear that mathematics is reliable to an extent, but often it can only show something to be true within one fixed system or approach.”
Now, write another two body paragraphs, looking at your second AOK. Use the same approach you saw in paragraphs 2 and 3. 600 words
-Link to prescribed title.
Finally, write your 'conclusion'. Two paragraphs, totalling 200-250 words
-Your conclusion. Explain what big, general insights have come out of this--your conclusion.
Implications and significance. Also tell us why it's important that we know this. When and how does it matter that we understand this lesson?
-Perspectives and extensions. If you can, try to pull in a very different perspective, on your conclusion. Perhaps you can recognize a very different way of approaching the question, which could have resulted in quite different insights than those you included in your essay. Or you could also mention one or two unresolved questions that this essay has revealed. You could also think of this as explaining some "limitations" or a weaknesses of your essay, but it's also about showing that the conversation isn't over yet. There is more to the question than you've had the room to explore.
Obviously there is a lot more depth that we can go into about what makes a really great TOK essay, but this structure will get you started.
Here are some more ToK Essay tips you might want to consider or you can join my online program if you like www.tokmastery.com
Cite this page as:
Woods, Tim. “How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge Essay” IBMastery. IBMastery, 1 Jan 2016. Web. TODAY’S DATE <https://www.ibmastery.com/blog/how-to-structure-a-theory-of-knowledge-essay>