02 Jul How to score in A-level economics for JC students?
How do I write good introductions?
A good economics essay introduction captures the reader’s attention and gives an idea of the essay’s focus. It requires students to define key definitions and list the overview and scope of the question.
Clear Definitions: Define the keywords in the question
Definitions are important to showcase the student’s level of understanding of the content to the examiners. Therefore, students should make a list of definitions, as they will come in handy when preparing for the exams. Alternatively, students may purchase ready guidebooks, which list the common definitions that they need to memorise in the A-level economics syllabus.
Writing an overview
If the essay question asks about a specific country or a particular market structure, it is important to also describe some characteristics of the country or the market structure given in the question. For example, if the essay is on the Singapore economy, students need to write something like this:
“Singapore is a small and open economy. Its small population size and lack of natural resources will mean that it has a small domestic market and is heavily dependent on trade for growth and survival. Singapore is thus very vulnerable to external shocks, which cause instability to the economy.”
Next, if the essay is on a perfectly competitive market, then an appropriate introduction would be as follows:
“A perfectly competitive market is characterised by the fact that no single firm has influence on the price of the product it sells. A perfectly competitive market has several distinguishing characteristics: there are many buyers and sellers in the market; the commodity sold is homogeneous; there is free entry and exit from the industry; perfect mobility of factors of production; transport costs are assumed to be negligible; both buyers and sellers are independent in their decision making and there is perfect knowledge.”
Scope: State the scope of the question clearly
Students need to define the scope of the essay clearly from the beginning, so that they do not go out of point. Tell the examiner the areas that will be discussed in the essay briefly in the introduction so that he can anticipate what is about to come up in the script. Students can use phrases such as: “This essay aims to explain…” to state the scope of the question.
How do I write a good body?
Topic sentence and Economic Analysis
Each paragraph of the body should only contain one key idea, which should be conveyed in the topic sentence. The key idea should be based on economics theories, principles and concepts.
An example of a topic sentence is as follows:
“In Singapore, the government has encouraged employers to adopt a flexible wage system which would help reduce unemployment during economic downturns.”
Diagrams should be drawn whenever appropriate and references must be made to the diagrams (e.g. A rightward shift of the demand curve from DD1 to DD2). The axes should be labelled as specifically as possible. (e.g. Instead of merely labelling price and quantity, the axes could be labelled as Price of Housing and Quantity of Housing respectively). Arrows that depict the shifts of the curves should also be clearly drawn in the diagram. The diagram should be drawn using a pencil and ruler and should preferably take up about one-third of the foolscap paper.
Using Contextual Examples
Students need to include examples in their essay in order to demonstrate their ability to apply economic theories into real world events. When possible, students should use the context given in the preamble and avoid using hypothetical examples in the essays.
In Singapore’s context, an example of a natural monopolist is the Public Utilities Board (PUB), which supplies water. The domestic size of the market is too small to support more than one large firm.
The Singapore government adopts market-oriented policies such as manpower policies to upgrade the skills of workers facing the threat of structural unemployment. An example of such a policy is the Skills Redevelopment Programme introduced to retrain displaced workers for employment in the InfoComm sector, Workforce Development Agency (WDA) Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) programme to train workers in sector specific skills and job redesign to make jobs more attractive to workers, especially among the older workers.
How do I write good evaluation points?
The evaluation can be what sets students apart from others if written well. Here are some things that examiners are looking for when reading an evaluation:
1 Recognise underlying assumptions. For example, in dealing with questions on demand and supply, it is important to write about the ceteris paribus assumption and also to give an example of how it can be altered in the short term. i.e. taste and preferences of a consumer may change over time.
2 Consider the time frame: Different policies might have different impact on the economy in the short term versus long term. For example, supply side policies need time to take effect and thus, require a long time frame.
3 Consider the feasibility of the policy: The extent to which a particular policy can be implemented. For example, an expansionary fiscal policy might not be feasible for a country that is facing a huge budget deficit.
4 Consider the effectiveness of the policy implemented and whether it can solve the problem. Students could consider the unique nature of the economy given in the question. For example, an exchange rate policy would be more effective in a small and open economy, rather than a large and less open economy.
5 Consider the desirability of the policy: whether there are any side effects that the policy might have on other economic objectives, i.e. whether there are conflicts of goals.
6 Consider the existing state of the economy: whether the country is currently facing a recession or inflation, and the severity of the problems faced can also affect the main economic priority of the government.
What else do students need to take note of?
- Always plan the essay before writing.
- Ensure that the paper is completed within the allocated time