As an Economics tuition teacher, while I would like to train students to be able to attempt all sorts of Economics questions, it is also important for students to pick the right questions in the examination. Specifically, they should select questions with a ‘rehearsed’ scope and avoid those where the answer needs to be developed spontaneously. While I have faith in the students’ ability to develop an answer plan on the spot, time is needed for this process and time is a luxury that students do not have in the final exam. For this purpose, I have distilled a set of Parachute Concepts for each chapter, which reflect the most commonly assessed question-types and the respective methodologies to tackle these questions. These are concepts, which when opened up (like a parachute), cover a significant part of the syllabus. This also explains why they are favourites to appear in exam questions, since they assess a student’s breadth and depth of knowledge.
While most of my Economics tuition students should be able to provide a balanced answer (e.g. involving positive and negative implications from an event) that contains content rigour, extra credit will be reserved for students who are able to address the context in this question.
Generally, there are four aspects that students can consider when assessing the context in a question.
Economics tuition students can think of a PTSD framework for this purpose:
Preamble: Hints on the context to examine may be embedded in the preamble. They usually contain hyped-up language e.g. “sharp rise in oil price” should be interpreted differently from just “an increase in oil price”, since the impact on inflation is likely to be greater. In addition, statistics in the preamble can tell us a great deal about the context too. For example, in this question, students can argue that a 7.3% rise in spending amounting to S$5bn is not very significant. Hence, the impact on the economy may be relatively muted.
Trend: Context relating to the trend in certain key economic statistics is also important. For example, if students are required to explain reasons for an “economic slowdown”, they should note that this suggests a rise in GDP, albeit at a slower rate, instead of a fall in GDP. Likewise, when asked to explain reasons for a “worsening” of the BOP deficit, students should try to weave in language suggesting an aggravation of the situation e.g. by identifying factors such as “worsening of a global recession” or “continued rise in a country’s inflation rate relative to other countries”; rather than just explaining how a BOP deficit comes about.
Singapore: Another simple but key aspect in scoring contextual marks is by nailing the Singapore context when a question asks for it. This entails highlighting features of the Singapore economy such as a small multiplier size, as well as its export-driven and import-reliant nature.
Domestic vs external: There are a number of essay questions relating to domestic versus external perspectives. For example, students may be asked to assess domestic and external causes of inflation in a country, or the domestic and external effects of an exchange-rate appreciation on the economy. Hence, students may wish to prepare rehearsed answers pertaining to areas such as the internal/external causes of various macroeconomic problems.