Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Revision Tips for Edexcel Economics Unit 1: Markets-How They Work and Why They Fail? (Data response)

In Section B (data response) of Unit 1, students will have to choose one out of two options. Each carries 48 marks which comprises questions from both Markets and How They Work? as well as Markets and Why They Fail?.

9 effective strategies:

(1) Read questions not extracts. This is what I always advise my students to do. Some candidates choose an extract just because they think that they are already familiar with it while some choose by ‘love at first sight’. Bear in mind that easy or familiar extracts may not necessarily imply easy questions

Instead, read through ALL the questions first. Try to get a ‘feel’ which question is easier to be answered. As a matter of fact most of the questions can actually be answered without referring to the extracts provided if candidates are really well-prepared. Extracts or texts are merely provided so that students can use evidence or figures to consolidate their explanation. Most of the time, both data response questions are equally balanced. Marks are equally spread out and the level of difficulty for both is about the same. In some cases, it is very obvious that one of the extracts is much tougher than the other. This is where candidates will have to exercise their prudence in determining which question to be answered

(2) Never ‘fall in love’ with a particular question. This is the simplest and yet the most effective strategies of all time. If candidates are stuck with a particular question, then it’s time to move on. Unfortunately, most students choose to ignore it. They spend about 15 minutes for a 6 marks question. The thumb rule is 1 minute to earn 1 mark. So if the question carries 6 marks, candidates should not allocate anything more than 8 minutes in my opinion. Pay more attention to questions that carry larger weightage e.g. 10 marks or 12 marks. Time mismanagement is one of the major reasons as to why candidates are unable to complete the whole paper on time

(3) Read analytically. Students must cultivate the habit of analytical-reading. Each and every sentence must be economically interpreted. For instance:

“House prices fell by 13.4% between October 2007 and September 2008, the fastest rate for more than 50 years, according to Halifax Bank, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender”

(a) Fastest rate for more than 50 years imply that we have never seen such a drastic decline in value of property in the past 50 years

(b) Between October 2007 and 2008 is where the subprime mortgage crisis had begun. Candidates must be able to relate it to major events like large losses suffered by major financial institutions in US and UK
(c) Drastic fall in value of property is bad for British economy. It is a sign of falling wealth, cut in consumption and possible a recession

“The government intends to permit the building of more than 1.1 million homes in the South-East by 2016, despite strong opposition from local councils and environment groups”

(a) 1.1 million homes is definitely an ambitious goal. But is it achievable?
(b) The construction of these homes brings along both positive and negative externalities. It creates jobs for the unemployed, improving local businesses due to higher number of traffic and enabling young workers to climb on the property ladder with more affordable homes. On the other side, it creates congestion and air pollution, noise pollution from construction works and degrading the quality of air in South-East

(c) Strong opposition may cause the current government to lose more votes when it is already unpopular with Britons

(4) Revise on common questions. Trust me. To some extent, questions are predictable for all the Units depending on the nature of the extracts. Let’s consider the following:

Housing market
(a) DD-SS diagram for houses
(b) Elasticity of supply for houses both short run and long run
(c) Are rented and owner-occupied accommodation good examples of substitutes?
(d) Calculation of increase/ decrease in house prices
(e) Comparison of house prices between regions
(f) Labour market immobility which is the main causes for shortage of key workers like teachers and nurses in City
(g) Construction of homes so will involve issues like external costs

(a) DD-SS diagram for a particular commodity
(b) Cross elasticity of demand between two commodities
(c) Elasticity of supply both short run and long run
(d) Impact of the rising price of commodity towards consumers such as manufacturing and even construction industry
(e) Buffer stock scheme to stabilise the price and evaluation of its effectiveness

(a) Define and give examples of private and external benefits
(b) Cost and benefit diagram
(c) Impact of rising tuition fee

Students might not be well aware of this, because similar questions reappear with different phrasing.

(5) KISS principle. Keep every sentence short and simple. Express your thoughts, opinions and economic principles involved systematically. In other word explain things stage by stage. Remember that clarity of expression is taken into consideration whenever you come across questions with asterisk (*). So do this to communicate your answer effectively to the examiner

(6) Link words. Please use lots of this. It helps us to connect ideas and sentences, so that examiner can understand the flow of our ideas. To sequences ideas we use firstly, secondly and finally, the former and the latter and the following. To give examples we use for instance, such as and namely. To add information we use furthermore, moreover, in addition to, besides, apart from etc. To explain result, we normally put as a consequence, therefore, leading to, this means that etc. To evaluate, we normally start with words like however, nevertheless, despite of, in theory and in practice etc

(7) Identify evaluation words. There are six of them. These words are justify, evaluate, discuss, assess, to what extent and examine. Instructions such as explain, outline and analyse require no evaluation.

(8) How many evaluations needed? If candidates bump into an evaluation question of 6 marks or 8 marks, normally one evaluation (2 marks) will be required. If 10 marks give two evaluations with total of 4 marks and 12 marks question will required three evaluations of 2 marks each

(9) Identify key words. Almost every question will carry key words such as price elasticity of demand (PED), price elasticity of supply (PES), cross elasticity of demand (XED), income elasticity of demand (YED), labour mobility, market failure, government failure, PPF etc. If this happens, please provide the definition. Normally it carries 1 mark


Jack said...

Thanks for such an informative article :D

Unknown said...

This helped a lot, thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic! thank you so much :)