Tips for IB Economics

Oikon Nemein: /oı′kov vε′μεi/ 

Greek expression meaning, ‘one who manages and administers all matters relating to a household’, from which the word ‘Economics’ has been derived. 

Oikon Nemesis: /Οικον Νεμειν/ 

An expression from every exasperated economics student who cannot for the life of them understand what is going on.

How many times have you opened that economics textbook and dozed off because you could not understand a word? Or how many times has your economics teacher called you out in the class because you couldn’t for the life of you understand what they were saying? But also how many times have you seen the words in your textbook translate to gibberish? Been There. Done That. Truly. I have taken Economics HL without having studied economics ever in my life before. It was a blank slate. Tabula Rasa. And I would say, this posed many challenges for me to transition smoothly into Economics. However, there are some methods I applied that I wished someone would have told me about then. And I swear they work, big time. 

So hey! How exactly to do IB Economics with no prior knowledge of it?  

First and foremost, please try not to make economics this enemy that you have to fight battles with!  Because, honestly, it would be an actual living hell to spend all two years regretting a subject, wouldn’t it? 

One of the most crucial steps to take to begin with is to construct a base and familiarise yourself with the most basic terminology in Economics. Economics speaks a whole different language of its own which is pivotal not only to understand economics but ace it. This presentation that I found on the internet breaks down economics concepts into the most simple and basic ideas. Which are easy to comprehend. 

Once your base is covered, I would really like for you to recheck the textbook you are using to study Economics. I found that the third edition of ‘Economics for the IB Diploma, Ellie Tragakes’ by Cambridge University Press is really, really, and when I say, really helpful. And it SO awesomely explains everything, it’s unreal. I would highly recommend switching to this textbook if you have not. However, the diagrams in the book are a bit unclear. So you may want to refer to other sources for them. 

Last of the basics; Try not to look at the portion ahead and take one step at a time. The portion will seem daunting which could cause you to spiral. Just remember, the progress you’ve made so far once could have been something you thought was impossible, but you’re there. You’re in it. And trust me, once you’ll get there, you’ll really get there. So, hold on.

Now that we have checked these off, let’s take a deep breath and dive into subject-specific tips. 

Understanding economics and visualising concepts through daily examples, or even hypothetical ones is of the essence. Memorisation or just superficial learning is just futile. Due to the absence of prior knowledge, it is important to dedicate that time to thoroughly understanding the concepts. There are times when you might forget the explanations once you have understood them, so I would recommend you write them down in your own words. As cliche as it might sound, it helps. You could use the most colloquial, most random, or any words, up to you, in order for you to remember the form of the understanding you had when you had finally understood it the first time. 

I cannot emphasise the importance of diagrams enough. Those lines and arrows could seem baffling. Hence, I would highly recommend you break a diagram down to its nook and cranny (uptill coordinates, literally) as every part of the diagrams in economics has its own designation and function and they can be pretty abstract if you ask me, hence in order to make sense of what is going on in them, it is really important to know what each element does. (And if you’ve understood them, you could use the same tip stated previously and write what is happening in your own words for your understanding). You could bother a friend for it, or your teacher, or anyone. But, debes hacerlo! 

Another very important thing would be to practice applications of concepts. IB Economics assessment majorly deals with applications of concepts; meaning, in what situations you might use them. For this, I would recommend practising questions thoroughly as well. You could also look at news in the domain you are currently studying and try understanding the situation with the concepts you’ve studied. For example, you read that due to recent discoveries about avocados’ health benefits it contains, the demand for avocados has risen. You could look at it through the lens of non-price determinants of demand and how the health-benefits advertisements led to an increase in avocado sales. (This way, you also equip yourself with the skills required for the fifteen marker questions where synthesis and evaluation of the real-world example are needed).

You can refer to some of the amazing economics teachers on YouTube. EconplusDal, The IB Econ Guru, and tutor2u are some great IB economics teachers you can find out there! Another one of the last-minute tips is this Economics Vocabulary Dictionary which you can use to build more vocabulary for economics. 

These were a few of the tips that had helped a lot back when I started the IB, and I sincerely hope they would help you too in some manner, and you wouldn’t have to end up calling economics ‘Oikon Nemesis’. 

You’ve got this!

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