The Essay component is found in Paper 2 of the H2 A-Level Economics examination. As the name suggests, candidates are required to write their answers in essay style.

Section A of this component will focus mainly on microeconomics and questions while in Section B focuses on macroeconomics. Some of these questions may be based on real world economics context. Candidates are to answer a total of three essay questions, of which one must be from Section A, one from Section B and one from either Section A or B.

How is it different from Case Studies?

Case studies have data provided for you to support your questions. Essays on the other hand provide little to no data in the question. Essays require more reliance on your economic knowledge and concepts to apply them to the questions. While answers in case studies can be straightforward, essays usually demand for a balanced argument and judgement for your stand.

How do I know the requirements of the case studies question?

Similar to Case Studies, the requirements can be found in the question. Read the question carefully and look out for key command words such as “Discuss” or “Explain” as it would determine whether a balanced answer is needed for your argument.

You also need to know which economic topic the question is focusing on. There are many topics covered in both microeconomics and macroeconomics, so it is very important to know which one the question is looking at. Sometimes, candidates may misinterpret the question and use the wrong economic concepts from the wrong topic to answer the question.

How do I write a good economic essay?

Before you even start writing, plan and decide which questions to pick. This is a very crucial step as you have to be sure that your economic foundation for the topic tested in that question is strong. This ensures that you will have enough points and arguments to write for your essay.

Always start with an appropriate introduction. Summarise the economic situation in question and the points you will be touching on subsequently in your essay. Provide definitions for any economic terms or words. This gives a good picture to examiners on what your essay will be about and also a good gauge on whether you have understood the economic situation.

Structure your economics essay well and develop your arguments substantially. If the question requires for a balanced argument, make sure that you have both thesis and anti-thesis paragraphs. Your answers have to be well-structured so that there is a flow in your essay for the examiners to follow.

Analyse the issue on hand from a variety of perspectives. This will help you to craft substantial arguments with economic concepts applied appropriately, as you are able to explain your stand and the economic effects clearly.

Make reference to other real-world economic examples not mentioned in the question that are relevant to the argument or explanation. This will help support your points and give a better view of what you are arguing for. Remember to use relevant diagrams and contextualise your arguments if real world economic examples are involved.

End with an evaluation and a well-reasoned conclusion of why you chose your stand. This would show that you have applied and evaluated all the different economic perspectives consistently. A good evaluative comment displays a mature judgement in your essay.

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What is Case Studies?

The Case Studies component is found in Paper 1 of the H1 and H2 A-Level Economics examination. There are 2 case studies in Paper 1. Each case study will present pages of economics data and issues related to the economics syllabus in textual, numerical and graphical forms.

This will be followed by questions relating to the data. These questions would require candidates to apply the relevant economic concepts and economic theories to answer and evaluate the economic issues, with reference to the data provided.

How do I know the requirements of the case studies question?

Read the question carefully and follow the instructions given. This is very important as candidates who do not follow the instructions will tend to deviate away from the question and apply the wrong economic concepts.

Pay close attention to the key command words and focus in the question. The command word will determine that kind of answer it expects. For example, the starting command words “Discuss” and “Explain” will produce a different answer for each question.

Typically, economic (change in) trend description questions carries 2 marks.

First mark: identify what is happening to the value of the variable. i.e. establish the general direction of the trend by statin whether the value of the variable that you are measuring has increased, decreased, remained stable, fluctuating, etc.

Second mark: provide a meaningful refinement or enhancement to the description of the trend in any of the following form: the rate of change, exceptions, reversals, or change to the level of volatility.

How do I prepare myself for the Paper 1?

Make sure that you have a good grasp of the underlying economic theories. A good foundation in economic knowledge will help you greatly in identifying what concepts the question seeks to assess you on. This will ensure that your answers are accurate.

Also, you need to have a set of data-handling skills (both statistical and textual knowledge). Case studies involve real life examples of economic situations locally and globally. You need to be able to draw a link between these real life economic examples to your economic concepts to be able to understand the underlying purpose and reason to the data. These skills are also useful in helping you analyse the data so that you can use these evidence in supporting your answers.

How do I write my economics case studies answers effectively with economics concepts?

Make use of appropriate and relevant diagrams to explain your economic analysis. Economic diagrams are helpful in showing you the effects of the economic happenings in the data given, hence you will be able to answer accurately. At the same time, economic diagrams are able to show examiners that you know your economic concepts well.

Always remember to quote from the data. The data given the the case study are there to help you find evidence to support your answers as it shows the economic effects. Make use of them to give a fuller answer.

Economics answers must not be long-winded. Sometimes, short and sharp answers are appreciated. Look at the question requirements and the number of marks allocated. Usually, these will tell you how long your answer should be. Long descriptions and answers do not equal to more credit given. Do not waste too much time overwriting your answers. Time management is key!

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