Perhaps you are getting ready for your first-ever Mock Exam, or you’re procrastinating and Finals are just around the corner, but now you want to know how to prepare for Economics. Group 3 exams are some of the most challenging for some due to the way they test your ability to recall content as well as communicate this through more extended responses. To access higher grade bands, your essays need to have a sophisticated depth which you really cannot fake, and this can be stressful when you’re unsure to revise! However, with these tips, you will be able to tackle the syllabus by breaking it down into the following chunks:
If drawn correctly, they can easily score you 2-3 marks per section, making them worth up to 25% of your overall grade! Diagrams are essential to Economics, and it’s vital that you learn how to fully label and draw them quickly with accuracy.
For our revision, my friends and I made a list of all the diagrams for each topic and we practised drawing these on a whiteboard. Having a system to ensure every curve and axis is labelled also ensured we didn’t lose any easy marks. For example, we would go over the diagrams in a clockwise direction to check for anything missing details.
When deciding what diagrams to use, you should be aware of what diagrams correspond to each syllabus point (e.g. Lorenz curve for equity). When choosing between Keynesian and Monetarist/New Classical, you should consider which diagram shows everything that you want to mention in your evaluation. If you intend to talk about cost-push inflation or shocks in the short-term, having an SRAS curve will definitely be helpful.
Be aware that different teachers and textbooks may have different labels for diagrams. Luckily, IB mark schemes tend to be generous in accepting multiple different approaches. Just ensure you are consistent in your writing!
Perhaps the bane of every Economics student—definitions. Unfortunately, these are not things you can afford to miss. Once learnt, they allow you to get 8 easy marks in Paper 2 (20% of your grade!), and they also give you a solid foundation for Paper 1 to show the examiner that you understand the question.
To learn definitions, I first began rote learning those in the textbook I was using. This gave me a very solid foundation. However, I was sometimes still losing marks in Paper 2 due to the specificity of the mark scheme. To combat this, my class created a document where we went through all the previous exam sessions and created a new definition to score 2 marks according to their mark schemes. Where these differed from the textbook, I highlighted and learnt the new definition. This gave me so much more confidence walking into Paper 2 knowing exactly what would be on the marker’s schemes.
3. Evaluation Points
Here is where Economics can get challenging. My first recommendation is that you learn the evaluative points mentioned in the syllabus! Many of the statements begin with “Evaluate with regards to …” before listing a number of useful arguments in favour of and against. Memorising these is a must, as all Paper 1 part b and Paper 2 part d questions will be based on one of these syllabus statements.
I learnt these through active recall methods using flashcards on Quizlet. One side of the cards read “Evaluate …” and on the other side, I listed all the points mentioned. After doing this I saw enormous improvements in my grade. Whenever I came to a new part b question, I knew exactly which points I should raise, as well as their counterpoints.
Now you’ve learnt your content, you need to practice conveying your knowledge. In Paper 1, you only have 45 minutes to scramble together each essay! This can be a real challenge until you’ve had enough practice. Writing essays under timed conditions to imitate exams is essential, however, don’t underestimate the value of writing a few polished pieces. In doing so, you will discover new ways of phrasing concepts concisely, ultimately saving time in the long-run. When short on energy, I recommend writing a simple plan for past paper essays. This is also valuable preparation to prevent you from wasting time thinking on your actual exam day.
5. Getting Top Marks
Once you’ve prepared your definitions, diagrams, and evaluative points, and you’ve practised putting these three types of content into a well-constructed essay, it may be time for you to look at ways to extend yourself. If you are aiming for top marks, you need to ensure you can deliver a quality essay for the smallest and most insignificant syllabus points that most people gloss over. Think pollution of poverty vs pollution of affluence as a part a? Use of national income statistics as a part b? If it is in the syllabus then it can be tested in an exam!
Here’s where learning some more evaluative points can add more substance to your exam. There is no point bringing excess information in if you are still struggling with the baseline provided by the syllabus. However, once you have that, it is great to show to the examiner all the other effects you have considered. Most textbooks provide more points to address for each evaluation topic, so learning the most relevant ones will be advantageous.
You should also prepare diagrams for questions that don’t typically lend themselves towards one in particular. Never force a diagram into your answer, but sometimes there are ways of incorporating them well to illustrate something more creatively. For example, when discussing GDP as a way of measuring living standards, consider using a PPC to show a change in output with increased demerit goods as a limitation.
Overall Economics can be a tough exam, but with a good work ethic, it’s a subject you can excel in! Studying can be intimidating at times, but once you break it down, your load will become a lot more manageable.
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