Sunday, June 7, 2009

Techniques To Write Long Essay-Unit 6: UK In The Global Economy (GCE Edexcel)

This post is dedicated to all those A-Levels candidates who will be sitting for Unit 6: UK In The Global Economy under GCE Edexcel. I’m actually taken by surprise since there are quite a number of students who are quite “lost” despite the exam is couple of days away

I often get questions like:

(1) How many points to write for essay (a)-40marks and essay (b)-60 marks?

For 40 marks essay, to obtain good scores one must have three explanations with two evaluations and each of this must be well elaborated. For 60 marks essay, a candidate will need four explanations plus three evaluations. Again, to score good grades each must be well explained

(2) How much time to allocate for each?

The rough guideline given is 1 mark = 1 minute. So 100 marks essay which will be subsequently divided into two means Section A is 50 marks. So candidate is advised not to spend exceeding 50 minutes or MAXIMUM 55 minutes in this section. I would recommend candidates to spend approximately 25 minutes for essay (a) and 30 minutes for essay (b). If one still couldn’t finish the essay within the stipulated time, please proceed to Part B, the data response question. Part B is equally as important as Part A and I feel that is much easier to score compared to long essays since students are systematically guided through each question

(3) Do I separate explanations and evaluations, as in first few paragraphs all explanations while last few evaluations?

Since this is an essay, I would normally start off with a simple introduction. One or two short sentences will do. Then I will proceed by explaining the first point and immediately followed by evaluation. I don’t usually segregate evaluations and place all at the back of the essay

(4) Is it difficult to write such essay?

Well, to most students, the answer to this question is YES. Economics by nature is a reading subject and requires someone to have inquisitive nature and of course, read a lot on current issues. If you don’t have such nature, then writing I don’t deny is a painful procedure. But to some, it is joy. I do come across some students who obtain full marks 120/120 while some below 10. Surprisingly, those who don’t do well in Economics, pass their Math with flying colours!

(5) How candidates are judged?

The 100 marks here allow the examiners to judge a student from many perspectives such as grammars, punctuations, ideas, how well the candidates explain things and whether the essay is presentable. I believe no examiners would like to mark a long-winded essay with no PARAGRAPH and the handwriting is UNREADABLE. Although examiners are told to bear with it, but nevertheless they will be “emotionally disturbed” and this may somehow affect your grades

Tips to write good essays:

(1) Choose topics you’re familiar with. Once you have done that, try to brainstorm as many points as possible and from there choose only those that you think you can explain well. You can also take this as a practice from now. Take all the past year papers you have, go through some questions and brainstorm all the possible points. In the exam, I got a lot of complaints from students saying that the time constraint is crazy. They claimed that there is no time to think. The time allocated is just nice to write. So to save more time in exam due to thinking process, again I have to say practice on brainstorming now. Try to come up with say seven or eight points if possible

(2) Elaboration. As you write, try to ask yourself the question of HOW and WHY. This will at least give you a guide in writing and provide a continuation in essay. For instance, consider the question asking: “Reasons for worsening current account deficit”. So this is what I will write:

First, UK is increasingly losing out in terms of competitiveness to low cost Asian economies such as China. There, many employers are not subjected to safety regulations and legislations unlike in UK. It is also worth to take note that the Chinese labours are often overworked and yet ill-paid. These two factors combined are good enough to give their manufacturing sector an artificial cost advantage over UK via the violations of labour rights. With the admittance of China into WTO, their cheap goods have gained immediate attention and therefore flooded the world market

(3) Avoid duplicating sentences. Some students have no idea how to elaborate on their essay. So they write the same idea again and again in different sentences. This will not be given marks. It is very apparent among weaker candidates

(4) Diagrams and examples. Examiners love candidates that can relate theories to applications and to diagrams. For instance anything that got to do with economic growth, try to see if you can fit in an AD-AS diagram wherever is appropriate. Also, please use more examples to support your explanations. This will inform the examiners that you’re a indeed a knowledgeable candidate that knows about current issues. The examples can be like countries that are relevant to your explanation. For instance, export driven economies are like Germany, Japan, US, China and Malaysia. Countries with high national debt are like Japan, Italy and potentially US

(5) Overexcited. Students tend to be overexcited when it comes to their favourite topics or points. This is because they tend to write better. However, in such situation there is also a tendency to be carried away. Please avoid that as it leads to nothing but a waste of time

(6) Evaluations. This is very subjective. There are just too many techniques. But among the lots I like contradicting or arguments against the points you have written earlier. Other alternatives are like short run versus long run effects and critical argument on information or data provided e.g. insufficient, or requiring dynamic rather than static data. Also not to forget that Unit 6 is a synoptic unit. This means students are allowed to bring in arguments that are micro in nature
Hope this helps!!

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