Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How To Write A Good 30m Essay for Unit 2: Managing the Economy (GCE Edexcel)

1. Why is this essay important?

· (a) It is the only question that carries the largest weightage (30/80) and will therefore significantly affect the overall marks for Unit 2 and grading for AS

· (b) It shows how well you understand those economic policies and being able to apply them into real life situations like promoting economic growth, reducing unemployment, narrowing the current account deficit, lowering the inflation etc

· (c) Being able to write or score in this essay will indicate your writing ability. This is an early indication whether or not you will perform in Unit 4: Global Economy, since these two units are heavily inter-related

2. What is the breakdown of marks?

It follows the 6-12-12 formation. For the first 6 marks, 2 marks are meant for definition of economic policies (fiscal, monetary and supply side) or sometimes explaining a phrase which will be indicated in “................”. The remaining 4 marks are for AD-AS diagram

Next will be the explanations. If candidates can explain very well, then two explanations will suffice (6+6). If not, candidates may provide three but less detailed explanations. So, each will be 4 marks. The 12 marks evaluations have the similar breakdown

3. How to write a good essay?

There are few key areas that examiners are looking for. Students will be judged on their ability to express their opinions clearly. In other words, examiners should not find great difficulty trying to comprehend the contents of your writing

Ability to use economics terms accurately is also vital to ensure higher marks. Try to use words like savings ratio, structural unemployment, the Great Recession, expansionary fiscal policy, paradox of thrift, automatic stabiliser etc wherever possible. To examiners, usage of these jargons indicates that a candidate is able to relate theories to application

Link words such as therefore, this is because, this leads to, as such, furthermore, next, nonetheless etc must be used to highlight the flow of ideas. Having said so, one must use it correctly. There are many circumstances where I have seen these words used inappropriately. One the clumsiest examples I came across is:

Bank of England can also consider a slash in interest rates. Furthermore this will lead to cheap and borrowing and an increase in private spending.......(it sounds so wrong!!!!)

In fact, AD-AS diagram can be used more than once to support an explanation or evaluation. Appearing once, usually at the heading does not indicate that students cannot use it once more. Normally, I will draw another diagram in evaluation to indicate the vertical part of AS to show that growth is difficult once full employment is achieved

(4) How long for each paragraph?

There is no limit. To me, as long as the objective of the question is met, then it may be time to move on to the next explanation/ evaluation. Normally, each paragraph contains around 4 or 5 sentences. But again, this depends on personal efficiency. Some people can write 8 sentences with the equal length of time

(5) Should I do essay first?

There is no such rule. Candidates can begin the paper as usual from question (a) or start from essay. It is all about preference. However, in my opinion, one should not start with essay first. There is always a tendency to finish whatever we have started and that means one may take longer than 35-40 minutes, if the question is a troublesome one (it is always for students!!!). That means not much time left for other shorter questions. Let’s not forget that the others form 50 marks altogether

(6) What is the biggest problem in essay?

Most of the candidates are unable to ‘twist’ the transmission mechanism to suit the need of the question. Consider this:

Using any one supply side policy, explain how the UK macroeconomic objectives can be met

The UK government may consider increasing the budget onto education sector. This may include more research grants to universities, higher pay for top professors, financial assistance to needy students and the provision of training programmes. If this is implemented correctly, the nation will have higher number of world class workforce. Rise in productivity will lead to more output, hence economic growth

This leads us to the next discussion. Skilled workers are able to understand complex instructions and perform their task efficiently compared to, say a non-graduate worker. This will lead to lower unit labour costs. From another angle, we can also say firms save lots of money, not requiring to send these workers for remedial training. Final output will be cheaper, hence a lower level of inflation for UK economy

(7) How to be better-prepared?

Read up all those economic policies and be sure that you are able to use them to solve economic problems like rising unemployment, looming recession and widening current account deficit. On top of that, familiarise yourself with some ‘standard’ evaluations like time lags, depending on where UK economy is operating at (elastic or inelastic part of AS), comparison between policies and which is more superior

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