Economic concepts may not be difficult to understand but scoring in the exam can be a challenge for many students because you may not know exactly what the examiner is looking out for, and what is lacking in your answer.
There are 4 key ingredients which you need in your answer to do well: Economic analysis, scope, examples and writing skills
1. Economic analysis
Even though A Level Economics is a writing subject, it is not freestyle writing. You are always expected to apply some form of economic analysis e.g. demand and supply analysis, cost benefit analysis, ADAS analysis when answering the questions. Writing your answers in a layman’s manner will simply doom you to a ‘fail’ grade.
You also need to employ a sequential and methodical approach in your explanation. In other words, the flow of your explanation matters, simply having all the points written but all jumbled up will cost you many precious marks.
This is also the aspect which many students struggle with because examiner’s remarks tend to be rather general e.g. “Your economic analysis is lacking” and “There are gaps in your economic analysis”. This is the part which I feel that personalised feedback is the most effective in addressing, a good private tutor will be able to pinpoint to you exactly what is lacking in your answer, the additional explanations you should include and what details are considered irrelevant and can be omitted in your explanation. Then you will have more time to tackle the other questions in the paper.
Question analysis is a very important step to take before answering each case study and essay question. An out of scope answer can cost you dearly, regardless of how in-depth your economic analysis was. Always look out for command words like “Explain” and “Discuss” which have very different requirements for your answers, content words which refer to the economic terms in the question and context such as the specific market and economy you are expected to examine.
Also, your answers often should not only cover depth but breadth. For example, when you are explaining the causes of economic growth, you should provide both internal and external factors, actual and potential growth. An explanation on the effects of macroeconomic policies should not only cover demand side effects but also supply side effects.
You are expected to incorporate examples in your explanations even if the question did not explicitly state so. Examples can help to elucidate your points clearer and easily beef up the quality of your writing. For instance, let say a question requires you to explain how public goods lead to market failure, bringing in an apt example of national defence can strengthen the points you have.
4. Writing Skills
Firstly, you need to make sure that you have addressed the question directly at the beginning and at the end of the paragraph.
Secondly, the flow of your writing matters. Students often think that having the points alone should get you the marks but that is not true. Your writing has to be coherent where appropriate conjunction words e.g. also, in addition, due to, since, because, hence, thus, therefore are used as you write your answer.