How to do well in Economics?

  • Attend all lectures and tutorials conducted in school.
  • Participate constructively in school and during tuition classes.
  • Put in consistent effort to complete all assigned homework.
  • Read beyond the lecture notes.
  • Be interested in current economic affairs.

What skills are needed?

Firstly, students need to have good knowledge of all concepts and theories covered in the GCE ‘A’ level Economics syllabus. They need to have a good understanding of the fundamental content and grasp the key concepts incuding definitions and diagrams. It is important that they clarify and seek proper guidance when in doubt.

Secondly, students should keep themselves updated on current affairs. They should be aware of global economic news, in particular Singapore economy news. It is important to keep abreast of current news and reports available online and on print media, as Economics is dynamic and constantly changing. Students will stand out if they are able to quote up-do-date information/ stastics in their examination scripts.

Apart from having good knowledge on current affairs, students need to be able to apply economic concepts in the right context in order to excel.

How do I write good introductions?

A good 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’ students’ level of understanding of the content to the examiners. Therefore, make a list of definitions as that they will in handy when they prepare for your exams. Alternatively, they may purchase ready guidebooks which list the common definitions that they ought to memorize before their exams.

Writing an overview

If the essay question asks about a specific country or 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. Given its small population size and its 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 will be as follows:

“A perfectly competitive market is characterized 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 as you write. Tell the examiner the areas that will be discussed in their essay briefly in the introduction so that he/she 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.”

Drawing Diagrams

Diagrams should be drawn whenever appropriate and need to be clearly explained in the essay. Reference must be made to the diagrams (e.g. A rightward shift of the demand curve from DD1 to DD2). The axes should be labeled as specific as possible. (E.g. Instead of merely labeling price and quantity, the axes could be labeled as price of housing and quantity of housing respectively). Arrows which 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 a page.

  •  Draw big diagrams which are well-labelled and explained clearly.
  • Do not draw a diagram in between a sentence.
  • Do not merely shade the area in the diagram
  • Label the area (e.g. Area ABCD) and then, explain it in their essay.

Using Contextual Examples

Students need to include examples in their essay in order to demonstrate their ability to apply economic theories into the real world events. Avoid using hypothetical examples in their essays. When possible, use the context given in the preamble.

Example 1:

In Singapore’s context, an example of a natural monopolist is the Public Utilities Board (PUB), which supplies water. The domestic size of market is too small to support more than one large firm.

Example 2:

Singapore government adopts market-oriented polices such as manpower policies to upgrade the skills of workers facing the threat of structural unemployment. An example of such policies include the Skills Redevelopment Programme introduced to retrain displaced workers for employment in 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 set students apart from others if written well. It is also important to note that evaluation should not be just for the conclusion but it should be an evaluative essay, meaning that evaluation should be at every point made when possible. Here are some things that examiners are looking for when reading students’ evaluation:

  • 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 one example of how it can be altered in the short term. i.e., taste and preferences of a consumer may change over time.
  • Consider the time frame that they are looking at: Different policies might have different impact on the economy in the short term versus long term. For example, supply side policies take time to take effect and thus, require a long time frame.
  • Consider the feasibility of a 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.
  • Consider the effectiveness of the policy implemented and whether it can solve the problem. Students could consider about 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.
  • Consider the desirability of the policy: whether there are any side effects that the policy might have on other objective, i.e. whether there are conflicts of goals.
  • Consider the existing state of the economy: whether the country is 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 I need to take note of?

  • Always plan their essay before they start writing.
  • Watch their time in order to complete the entire paper.

Recommended time:

25 marks essay – 45 minutes,

10 marks essay – 18 minutes,

15 marks essay – 27 minutes.

  • Self-invented abbreviations are not allowed. For example, monopoly (M) / economic growth (EG) / Singapore (SG) / unemployment (uN+) are not allowed in their answers.
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