Acing IB Economics Assessments: A Foolproof Structure

Whether you’re attempting your IA commentaries, Paper 1 or Paper 2 response, a good structure in IB Economics is vital to ensure your answer meets all the criteria to score the highest possible marks. Here is one foolproof approach used by five 7-scoring students which can be used to contextualise or answer any essay-based response in the course.

Credit to our teacher, the structure we used has the acronym: DEIA standing for Define, Explain, Illustrate and Analyse

Define

Here you need to give a complete definition of all keywords in the essay title. Definitions are required by the mark scheme so it’s great to include them towards the start of your response to ensure they’re not forgotten during the mad rush to finish your evaluation on time.

Explain

Here is where you discuss how whatever you have just defined will affect the standard model. For most questions this will be a movement in the curves. Explain what shifts and not what occurs as a result of that shift, as this is more effective when left to the analysis after the diagram has been drawn. Particularly in a Paper 1, this is where you may also want to introduce your example, again just explaining the context and not the result.

Illustrate

Diagrams are worth a ridiculous amount of marks, and it’s important you show how important they are by making them large and clear in your exam booklet; minimum ⅓ of the page. Make sure to fully label your diagrams; check every curve and axes to ensure you won’t lose any easy marks.

An effective use of examples, as emphasised in the new course, should also mean you try and incorporate examples into your diagram rather than have them purely theoretical. Continue with the example you began in “explain” and try to include relevant numbers like the value of the tax, new price of a product or the amount in the shortage. Even just drawing the relevant currency symbol in brackets next to your price axis can indicate that you are trying to show that the economic theory is applicable in the real world.

Analyse

In this section, you systematically explain all the impacts the change in the curves has had. Begin with mentioning price increases/decreases, then quantity increases or decreases. For a microeconomics analysis, you should explain the impact on stakeholders by mentioning: consumer and producer surplus, producer revenue, government revenue, and any welfare losses that occur as a result. Include everything which occurs along the axes or within the diagram itself. Link any of these impacts with your example to show that real-world application your markers want, whether you’ve memorised the numerical values or have learnt about the implication of a result such as a shortage.

Evaluate

Not included as part of the acronym, as it will not be required for all part A questions. Your evaluation can come after your DEIA for a part B response. It is essential that an “evaluate…” question still contains a DEIA structure in order to contextualise your evaluation. For example, when answering a part B on the effectiveness of Fiscal policy vs Monetary policy, you will need to DEIA both policies to show understanding before your evaluation. Successful students will also attempt to include a quick DEIA in some of the evaluative paragraphs. For example, you may use it to show crowding out as a potential issue with Fiscal policy.

Evaluation is best done through a series of points and counterpoints. Even if your conclusion is skewed towards one argument, both sides should be addressed in your answer. Personally, I recommend memorising the evaluation points suggested in the syllabus. They tend to be diverse and it’s guaranteed these will appear on the mark scheme.

Introductions/Conclusions

Your DEIA, however, is useless if you do not answer the question. For some part A questions, launching into definitions and finishing with your analysis will be sufficient. Generally for part B, however, you should answer your question in a few introductory lines at the beginning. Your evaluation should be completed with a conclusion that gives weighting to each of your points in order to reach an appropriate answer to the question. What your essay requires will depend on the command term given, so pay attention to these.

Hopefully, these suggestions can provide some guidance on how to approach an IB Economics exam or internal assessment. Practising applying a logical structure consistently is one of the keys to success. However, there are many other approaches to these assessments. IB examiners will be accepting of anything that is clear and shows good understanding.

Reference material for assessment overviews: