Monday, September 24, 2012

Effective Revision Strategy for Unit 1: Competitive Markets-How They Work and Why They Fail

1. Prepare the checklist. List out all the possible topics that need to be covered within these three months. Those thick Economics bibles on your table or shelf can be a good starting point. Well, in case if you are ‘anti-textbooks’, there is also another alternative. Click on the link below. They will lead you to my Unit 1 list of definitions. Use those jargons to guide you on the topics that need to be prepared. Watch out for some difficult topics. For instance, I find that students usually struggle when it comes to PPF (production possibility frontier). Many are unable to explain why a PPF can shift inward or outward and how is this related to a nation’s AS (aggregate supply). Also, few can explain why when economic resources are not fully utilised, there will be no opportunity cost involved when both goods are simultaneously increased. Pay extra attention to topics under the market failure particularly externalities. Make sure that you are able to define, give examples, draw the cost-benefit diagram and evaluate measures used to solve those problems. Equally, improve your understandings on how minimum price and buffet stock schemes work. Nonetheless, each student is unique. Some may face more problems than the others for the same topic discussed and therefore time allocation is somewhat subjective and I will not guide much on that. The bottom line is, somehow you need to juggle between the quantity (time) and quality (revision techniques) devoted for each topic 

 2. Choosing the right revision materials. Textbooks and those thick-illustrated revision materials are always good to look at but may not be your best companions. It is near impossible for you to digest so much information and yet there is so little time. I personally dislike textbooks. They are long winded and most of them are not student-friendly. Simple topics are often extended ‘unnecessarily’ just for the sake of making the book looks thick. They are pretty much the same like the Economist where events that can be told in one page are made more complicated than what they actually are with long dwindling passages. I will prefer if you use the notes/ slides/ case studies given to you by your lecturer and complement it with topical revision sheets from . As for extra read up, you may go to

3. Get ready the past year questions. One of the first few topics in Unit 1 is specialisation and that is exactly how you should apply Economics principle into action. Practice not by papers BUT by questions. For instance, if you have finished revising the topic on PPF and opportunity cost then you should focus on MCQ questions pertaining to these two topics before you move on. Practice by specialisation will give you an upper hand advantage over those who do not. First, you can see that those questions will always repeat themselves in a similar way. Second, you will know how popular and how frequently they are tested and last but not least, you will ultimately master the answering techniques. It is not true that students need to write long-winded explanations to secure marks. Sometimes by exhibiting a diagram or simple calculation using your own numerical examples will give you an edge. You use lesser time and yet achieve the same marks as your friends

The same goes for Section B which is the Data Response. Practice by case studies. For instance, attempt all Extracts that are related to congestion before I move on to other issues such as healthcare, education, smoking, air pollution, housing market, labour market and commodities. Chances are, you will understand the nature of the questions better than anyone else because you specialise. So next time, in January 2013, once you get the paper and the heading says ‘Worsening Congestion in London by 2015’, I dare to bet that you can see more or less what is coming your way! Expect definitions of private cost and external cost, cost-benefit diagram, proposing methods to reduce congestions and their respective evaluations, income and cross elasticity of demand and others

4. Be more inquisitive. Students who participate in a two-ways communication with their lecturers tend to do better than those who do not. Be more ‘provocative’ and interrogative. You cannot accept answers or explanations just like that. You need to ‘challenge’ the statements to a certain extent. Ask intelligent questions like HOW, WHY and WHAT. When you ask questions, your mind is doing all the critical thinking process. It is a proof to you and your teacher that you are actually learning and picking up. You need to do your part here as the teacher had done his. Do not assume that you had understood and please eliminate the ‘I-think-I-can-understand’ mindset. They need to be 101% solid. Even if you have the slightest doubt, please raise and bring it to your lecturer’s attention. Many fail to understand that learning by asking is a faster way to progress than the traditional method of reading-and-memorising. The former has another advantage. You tend to retain your memory longer once you understand a particular topic but if you memorise, you can retain it for just hours