Group 3 Subjects

Tips for Economics HL

I never imagined studying Economics, let alone it becoming one of my favorite subjects. The IB Economics syllabus can initially seem daunting, especially with the recent changes. However, understanding it is key to excelling in the class. Here are some things I wish I knew before taking Econ HL!!

1. Do only what’s necessary

Reading and understanding what each exam asks of you is so important in a subject like Economics. During my first exam, some of my friends ended up losing marks because they thought they had to do all the questions given in the paper, managing time becomes impossible and this is not the case! Remember to always read the instructions because they’ll save you from a lot of stress.

  • In paper 1 you only have to do 1 set of questions out of 3
  • In paper 2 you only have to do 1 set of questions out of 2
  • In paper 3 there are two compulsory questions

2. Real-life Examples

In paper 1, when selecting a question, remember that it’s very important to mention a relevant real-life example. To help you remember examples, you can even make a Google Sheet with examples for every topic you study!

Mentioning an example carries weight in the grading process and it definitely helped me answer the questions with a more analytical perspective. I usually try to include at least one real-life example, I find that doing this helps me remember certain information about the topic which strengthens my knowledge!!

3. DEED and CLASP

Economics is the subject of acronyms, teachers love them and you will too! The two most important ones are DEED and CLASP.

DEED stands for Define, Example, Explain, and Diagram. In paper 1, this is the benchmark for 10-mark questions. You begin by defining the economic term used in the question, connecting the term to a real-life example, drawing a diagram, and then explaining the diagram.

CLASP stands for Conclusions, Long/short-term impact, assumptions of the theory, stakeholders, and pros/cons. This acronym is helpful for all Economics papers; for 15-mark questions, you need to have a strong evaluation-based response. Taking into consideration each of the CLASP elements will help you write a balanced answer that is considerate of all the possible economic happenings.

Personally, I find acronyms super helpful as they make revision easier, I made flashcards with the different acronyms available in my Economics book which was the perfect strategy to revise a day before the exam!

4. Cheatsheets

When I first started studying Economics, I was convinced there were at least a hundred diagrams in the syllabus. I never found out if that was true. But, there are plenty. Your notes may have them all and the course books will too, but it’s important to remember them all. That is why I found that making a separate Google Doc of Economics diagrams helped me the most. It made sure that the night before an exam I could revise all the diagrams quickly.

An acronym I use all the time for the best diagrams is ACE Axis, Curves, Equilibria – it ensures I draw and label all the important elements!

5. HL-only Content

Paper 3 is HL-only and therefore, it usually has questions that ask you in-depth about those topics. A lot of the calculations in Economics are also HL-only so remember to practice them! Calculations do come in papers 2 and 3, but don’t worry too much about them! A little practice and knowing your way around a diagram does wonders for your understanding. I find that practicing HL content in combination with the rest of the syllabus helps you gain a much better understanding of Economics altogether because the subject is unique in the way every element connects to one another. 

6. IAs

Unlike other subjects, Economics has 3 IAs. When I first learned this, I felt burdened and did not want to take the subject. Acing one IA is hard, now I was being asked to do 3?! But that’s okay! They’re only 800 words each, and it’s a lot like answering 15-mark questions in paper 1. Here are some good tricks I discovered while writing my IAs:

  • The 1-year rule: an article selected for your commentary cannot be older than 1 year
  • All three articles must be from different sources
  • Remember the WISE ChoICES concepts! Each IA must consider only one of the concepts throughout the IA
  • Concepts cannot be repeated! If you choose Intervention for one IA, you cannot do it for another.
  • This guide has recommended sources for your IAs. Selecting publications such as BBC, CNN, and the Guardian is preferred because their articles are concise and simple. Sources such as The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are discouraged as they already have economic evaluations in their articles, leaving little room for the students to think about the various economic decisions made

7. Don’t Stress!!

The new Economics syllabus is very different from the previous one. However, Economics is the type of subject where everything is interconnected. Understanding one thing helps you learn another. Take it one step at a time, use cheat sheets and the many other acronyms your course books have to offer and it will be fine!


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