Getting the edge in HSC Economics
Tips you should know for acing the Economics exam
To do well in the HSC Economics exam, you need to understand exactly how the exam is structured. There are 100 marks in the Economics exam, broken down as follows:
Mastering multiple choice questions and short answers
The multiple choice and short answer sections are very straightforward. They require an understanding of the basic Economic theory, which has remained unchanged for decades, such as how the federal budget and interest rates are used to stimulate or dampen the economy.
You’ll also need to be confident with interpreting such theory in a variety of forms, including tables, graphs, statistics and models.
Some tips for preparing effectively for these two sections include:
Make notes on the syllabus dot points
Since your exam is based entirely on the syllabus, it makes sense to make notes on the syllabus dot points.
These dot points also outline the extent of knowledge that you need about any topic through the use of the verbs such as ‘outline’, ‘explain’ and ‘discuss.’ Being able to answer each specific dot point to the required level of detail ensures that your study remains focused and relevant.
Write concise and structured answers for the short answer questions
When approaching short answer questions, you need to ensure that your answers are clear, concise and structured. Many students have the tendency to ramble on before answering a question halfway down the page. Markers will penalise such verbosity.
Deconstruct the questions according to the syllabus
band 6 students look at the questions, and ask which syllabus dot-points or concepts those questions relate to. Each question is always assessing a particular aspect of the course, and being able to recognise when and which course concept is being assessed is extremely advantageous.
For example, being able to recognise when a question is looking for a student to talk about free trade agreements, or automatic stabilisers, or structural unemployment, even though these terms may not be explicitly mentioned in the question.
Remember your jargon
When writing short answer and essay responses, but especially for the former, it is prudent to bear in mind the key terms or buzzwords that relate to each topic, and which markers are very often looking for when reading and marking your responses.
Terms such as ‘globalisation’, ‘progressive taxation’ and ‘monetary policy’ are key jargon terms that markers are often looking for when they mark certain short answer questions.
Look at the number of marks each question is worth
For a 4 or 5 mark question, you will need 4 or 5 points to gain those full marks. If you are only writing 2-3, you can be almost certain you won’t get the full number of marks.
Alternatively, a 4 mark question may require 2 points, but explained fully and in detail. Practising past questions is the best way to become familiar with the appropriate strategy.
Structure your answer concisely and logically
First line: Answer the question immediately
Second line: Explain and elaborate on your answer
Third line: Quote a statistic or evidence from the passage, stimulus or memory
Fourth line: Use this statistic to demonstrate how it proves your point
While understanding this basic theory may seem challenging at first, once you have revised thoroughly, you’ll find that these two parts are the easiest from the exam.
For students who have revised well, it’s about doing the first two sections as accurately and efficiently as possible so you have enough time to ace the final two essay questions.
Acing the essays
What you should realise is that the essays ultimately distinguish top performers from the above-average students.
Writing an essay question purely from ‘economic theory’ will only score you 15/20 marks.
To perform well in these, you must go beyond the syllabus and utilise statistics, theoretical graphs and incorporate an understanding of recent government policy and economic trends and developments.
A good rule of thumb is to remember that markers are always asking themselves ‘How well does this student understand the basic theory and ideas of the course?’
– Writing an essay solely incorporating theory answers this question at a basic level.
– Being able to apply the theory in graphs and through states demonstrates a higher level of understanding.
– Showing you understand how the theory relates to recent policy developments demonstrates
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