Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Popular Questions for Section A of 9708/42 (A-Level Economics) (CIE) (CAIE)

1. Dear all, this will be my final posting (although I may have some last minute updates tonight) before the exam tomorrow

2. Here are some of the most popular questions that had been tested:
a) GDP related
(i) GDP
(ii) GDP per capita
(iii) real GDP growth rate
(iv) economic growth
(v) recession
(vi) GDP at factor cost
(vii) GDP at market price

b) lately on difference between macroeconomic policies e.g. distinguish between fiscal and monetary policy, monetary policy and supply-side policy, fiscal policy and quantitative easing etc

c) two macroeconomic policies and whether they will conflict with any two other macroeconomic objectives. Usually students will be asked to make reference from the article. Always the last question and is an 8-marker

d) whether a particular behaviour mentioned in the article indicates that the consumers are trying to maximise their utility. Watch out for budget lines too!. The question may ask you to draw a budget line to reflect changes in price or income. Refer to the following series:
(i) W09 (Variant 2)
(ii) S10 (Variant 2)
(iii) W10 (Variant 3)
(iv) W11 (Variant 1)
(v) W11 (Variant 3)

e) Whether a large firm is beneficial/ against a public interest

f) Benefits/ costs of integration, usually horizontal

g) Lately on distinguishing between fixed costs and variable costs with reference to information e.g. wages of contract workers and salaries of managers

3) Some recent Q&As by my students:
a) To do a (12m + 13m) essay or a stand-alone 25m essay?
Well, to be honest, I don't have a definite answer for that. It actually depends on plenty of factors e.g. how well-prepared are you and how difficult are those questions. However, I do set some guidelines for myself if I were to attempt those questions. It will be topic-based. If it is related to 'efficiency, market failures/ imperfections and government interventions to improve resource allocation (25m)', then I would have strong case to attempt those sort of questions. I would also attempt if it is about 'how wages are being determined in an ideal competitive market/ theory of wage rate and whether they are applicable in a real life labour market condition (25m)'. Essays like 'whether GDP is useful to compare standards of living between countries (25m)' are also pleasant to write. However, be mindful that it is also this sort of question that is extremely manipulative. They may give you an artificial impression that you could write and score but there are also chances that whatever you have written may not perfectly fit in the frame that they want

Essays on 'macroeconomic policies to achieve certain aims' as well as 'macroeconomic conflicts' are also nice to attempt. Areas that I would usually avoid are such as cardinal/ ordinal utility/ indifference curve. The questions are usually very abstract

2) How many diagrams can I use?
Again, it depends on how you charter the path of your essay. In a long 25m question, I may use as many as 7 - 9 diagrams. There is nothing unusual about that. Mathematics i all about formulas but Economics is all about diagrams!

3) How long should I spend for every Section?
Not more than 50 minutes for Section A, not more than 50 minutes for both essays

4) Is it even possible to finish the essay under time constraint? 
While many students may struggle there are quite some that can finish within the time provision. Most importantly, write concisely, use words with weight/ explanatory power, avoid writing evaluations and conclusions unnecessarily and do not overwrite certain paragraphs when you realise that it has been more than sufficient. Quantity does not translate to quality

5) If I write very well for my analysis, would that cover my evaluation marks assuming that I can't think of anything to write for evaluations?
Unfortunately, that is not how it works. Your essays have to be balanced in every aspect e.g. analysis, evaluations and conclusion. Excelling in one area will not give you extra credit to cover up your weakness in another section

6) What to do if I can't finish the last question of Section A?
Simple, list out the points IN A PROPER SENTENCE. You may get a probably 3/8 marks and that's better than nothing. Salvage anything you can

7) Do I have to make reference to the article if the question says so?
Yes, you must. Failure to do so may cause your writings to not gain full credit. Well, think about it. If we can just write anything without making reference, then obviously the article serves no purpose isn't it? :)

8) What should I do before the exam tomorrow? Should I practice more?
Well, yes but not as in writing out the whole essay. I think it is better for you to practice on how to structure the entire essay. Practising on drawing few diagrams would help too

9) Should I just focus on macro?
No you shouldn't. Let's not forget that there isn't any option for you in Section A. It may be entirely based on micro (I hope not!)

10) How frequent should I paragraph?
I think it would be extremely good to paragraph for every analysis or evaluation. Let's make our work presentable and earn impression-credit from the examiner. Yes, there is such thing. That explains why two students may gain Level 4 marks but one is higher than the other. Paragraphing is extremely important because it also helps the examiner to spot and distinguish between your first, second and third points (so forth). It is worth noting that some points especially in macroeconomics that are so closely related. If you were to put them in the same paragraph, you meant them to be two different points. However, may be because of the way you write them, the examiners would end up thinking that these two are actually one with the second one being an in-depth analysis of the first. So you actually lose marks here. Problems may have been avoided if you put them in separated paragraphs. At least when we see it, we are automatically triggered to think that these two are different ideas. As you can see, it's not just about practice. How you deliver them matters too! Always put ourselves in their shoes

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