Thursday, May 7, 2009

Effective Revision Techniques For Unit 6: UK In The Global Economy

Sorry for the slow posting. My timetable is extremely packed with appointments & I was away for training these past few days. The training was about psychology of students & how to help teenagers to learn better. It’s hilarious & I will share some with readers now as well as in the next two postings. At the moment, I would like to outline some effective learning techniques for the most difficult topic in GCE Edexcel Economics, the Unit 6

To be honest, it’s no big secret. Just some simple learning methodologies that are effective & yet often overlooked by many

(1) Right atmosphere. Organise a small group of friends, probably not more than five of you. Please ensure that the friends you chose are seriously committed to learning. Avoid friends that are chatter-bugs that will divert you or those extreme gamers. Also avoid studying in open space. I noticed that some of my students love to spend their time studying in Starbucks which I doubt they will benefit anything out of it. Just too much of distraction. Why not choose one of your friends’ place? From the training today, I was told that students learn much better with their peers than their teachers as there is a natural ‘barrier’. Hence students are less expressive which distort the learning process

(2) Reading materials. NEVER rely on one reading material. Well, that doesn’t mean that I’m asking you to bomb your brain with several books. What I meant was, by relying on several references, you can compare the quality of information. I found that certain books have more superior explanations than the others. Also by you can ‘plug’ the hole. What is lack in one set of notes can be supported by the others. One book you MUST have now is the Student Unit Guide for Unit 6 (refer above)

Also, I strongly do not recommend students to read The Economist. Speaking from students’ point of view, the contents are seriously hard to digest

(3) Internet. Learning is not complete without internet. To me it is a complement. I get more information there than the book. Students normally underestimate the power of internet when it comes to learning. They hardly use it to search useful information, except downloading games, videos & songs. Websites that I again strongly recommend for revision are:

tutor2u is rich with online notes that you can’t get anywhere. If you are looking for specific issues like UK economy, enlargement of EU, productivity in depth, monopsony power of labour union etc, they are all there. Also there are daily posting on its economics blog

economicshelp is the brainchild of Tevgan Pettinger, an Economics teacher. He too organise his work in topics. What I seriously like about his postings is his creativity of issues & his evaluations to most topics are out-of-box. I can bet till my last dollar that some of his most ‘explosive’ evaluations are not in typical textbook

newsbbc to me is a perfect substitute to The Economist. Click on business/ economy on the left hand bar. The articles are so readers-friendly, that even fishermen or mechanics can understand economics, provided they can at least read

Also there are techniques to search for information. If you’re reading about national debt, go to Google & type something like ‘national debt economicshelp’ then click on search. You’ll be surprised by the precision of the information. Or if you want to know about Working Time Directive, then type ‘Working Time Directive bbc’ & search. See the results for yourself

(4) Analyse past years. Before you really embark on past year questions, run through all set of papers you have. If not, please make sure you get them from your lecturers. Analyse the popularity of questions. I’m not afraid to tell you that in Unit 6, issues that are often tested in Part A are like role of WTO, protectionism, UK’s balance of payment & competitiveness & macroeconomic policies to achieve certain goals

As for data response question in Part B, popular topics are on fiscal deficit & national debt, comparison between UK & eurozone in terms of inflation & unemployment, why UK refuse to join euro, implications of BOP deficit, implications of protectionism etc. I hope this helps !!
(5) Brainstorm. Another important key skills. For instance on the topic of Balance of Payments (BOP), ask yourself:

Why UK’s BOP is almost permanently in deficit?
Is trade deficit bad & surplus necessarily good?
Why some countries like China can run surplus?
Implications of deficit on UK economy?

(6) Attempt. Always attempt on Part B before Part A (essay). This is because students need to build up their writing skills like ability to be expressive & argue before they can write something long & challenging. Also take note that some issues that are not tested in Part B can appear in Part A. For instance, one of the questions I recall in Part B was ‘examine the implications of fall in interest rate’. It has appeared in both parts

(7) Timing. The paper as a whole is 1 hour 45 minutes. But I strongly recommend practice on Part B first. In short, specialise in an area. Do approximately 6 questions. Same questions can be attempted twice maybe in future. Even as a teacher I did more than 5 times. I discovered that every different attempt my evaluation ability on some issues grow sharper. For beginning, maybe time yourself around 1hour 15 minutes on Part B. As you go along, reduce the duration by 5 minutes in each successive attempt.

As for Part A, although the recommended time is 45 minutes for two essays, I would suggest an hour for yourself. Again as you go along, reduce 5 minutes in each successive trial. Perhaps you should go read up some relevant reading materials on the internet before start writing. This will give a boost to your confidence in essay

(8) Appointment with your teachers. Your teacher is probably very busy now with tonnes of appointments. Nevertheless, seek more of his wisdom. Learn to correct your mistakes. By no mean, perfecting your practice will make you perfect ! Think about that


Tejvan Pettinger said...

Thanks for link - This post is a very good resource for students.

Lawrence Low said...

Oh hi, thanks for dropping by. But seriously your materials are really effective

chris sivewright said...

Some find this: useful to stretch pupils' minds...

Lawrence Low said...

Hi Chris, thanks so much for sharing. Very nice postings. I'm sure my students will love it