Academic Group 3 Subjects

How to Choose Real-Life Examples for IB Economics Paper 1

Starting with the May 2022 assessment, providing a real-life example in Part B of Economics Paper 1 at either standard or higher level is a necessary criterion to obtain any mark above 0. Losing 15 points out of an available 25 is a prospect that frightens many, and in this article I will explain how to properly approach research and use these examples to keep panic levels to the minimum!


Despite Google (or other search engines) being a free and fairly accessible resource, for many, including myself, searching for examples turned into fruitless hours of browsing, stress, and frustration. Here are some tips to make the entire process easier and more enjoyable.

Avoid using economic terms in search inquiries.

Searching “decrease in real GDP due to cost-push inflation” will likely result in scientific articles, packed with theory. On the contrary, searching “increase in gas prices in country X” would bring up news articles with extensive descriptions of a particular case and statistics – perfect for real-life examples.

Specify and diversify.

Specify a country or city in your search query – this will help you contextualize your examples to better develop them in the essay later. Diversifying your examples by geographical area or market will broaden your horizons and help you feel more prepared for whatever turn the question takes. 

Search in English.

Whenever you are searching for an article (especially one referring to a foreign country), google in English, no matter what language you are taking your exam in. That way, more articles from a wide range of sources will come up, giving you access to more complete information and different perspectives on the issue.

Use Google News.

It is a free Google service that can filter your search results by topic, news agency, or publication date. It is also a great way to find an article for an IA!

Organizing and memorizing

Keeping such a large block of information in one easily accessible place is a challenge in and of itself, let alone memorizing dozens of figures. While there is definitely no one quick and easy way to deal with real life examples once and for all, here’s something that could help.

Structure is key.

Especially if you are more prone to logical thinking, create a system or structure that would work for you. For instance, I organize my example in a table, where I state the topic to which it applies, the URL of articles and other sources, and the main points and figures.

Update your database of examples regularly.

Every weekend or so, take 15-20 minutes to find examples of the topics studied in class. Don’t leave it until the night before the test!

Use Post-its.

Make sure that the real life examples are in front of your eyes – it will make the memorization process so much easier. All other techniques, including flashcards and active recall strategies, still apply!

Putting them into practice

A lot depends on the way you incorporate the real-life example into the essay to support your point. More often than not, you may need several real-life examples for a single essay. But it is the quality of the examples that is of prime importance. To be complete and relevant, your example should not only include the event or policy on its own, but also its causes, consequences, and effects on various stakeholders. You should also aim to specify the country and the timeframe of the event, and cite figures and numerical data.

For instance, compare these two examples. 

  1. China’s economic growth has been significant since last century. This brought many people out of poverty.
  2. From 1978 to 2015, China’s output grew from 3% to 20% of the world’s real GDP. Real incomes grew by a factor of 8, however, negative effects on equality can be observed as well: the share of wealth owned by the top 10% grew from 27% to 41%. Additionally, CO2 emissions have increased sevenfold, which likely had adverse impact on the environment. (Business Review)

The second example is significantly more detailed, and elaborate, and thus will likely boost your score.

For me, real-life examples are the most difficult criterion to score well on Paper 1. They are particularly tricky if your school does not have a unified database of examples, which means you would have to do the research yourself or collaborate with peers. I hope that this article has made you more confident about real-life exams and upcoming assessments in economics. I wish you the best of luck!

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