Case Study Tips for Economics Tuition Students

March6, 2019
by admin

Willingness to give up 1-2 marks

Students in my economics tuition session are encouraged not to overwrite to “gain assurance” for low-weightage questions and instead to pay more attention to the mark allocation. Often, students underperform in CSQs not due to the loss of 1 or 2 marks in the intermediate questions, but due to the lack of time to complete the high-weightage questions (8- or 10-mark questions).

Talk to “Mark”

A useful tip for CSQs is that a 4-mark “explain-type” question typically requires students to diversify their answer i.e. to come up with 2 diverse points. For example, for a question relating to why a producer pursues a certain action, the underlying motivation (or the “dartboard” in this question) should be to increase producer profits.

Dissection theory

As an economics tutor, I will remind my students of the importance of dissecting the mark scheme to give themselves more assurance when attempting the answer. Specifically, an 8-mark answer can be split into 6 marks for a balanced (2-sided), rigorous (containing key content bits like key definitions, a diagram and content explanation) and contextual (evidence from extracts) answer; and 2 marks for evaluation. The evaluation marks can be obtained by writing a synthesis to the answer. For example, students can consider immediate and longer-term implications of infrastructural spending in both countries to develop a “platform” to synthesise different perspectives contained in the answer.

Identify vs Explain

Some students in my Economics tuition classes have asked me for the main difference between a question beginning with ‘Identify’ versus one that starts with ‘Explain’. For ‘Explain-type’ questions, I usually advise students to provide the definition of the key term(s) in the question, and to apply the definition to the relevant context.

Additional notes on elasticity

When explaining elasticity concepts, students should make use of terms such as ‘more than proportionate’ or ‘less than proportionate’ to compare the change between two parameters. As a rule of thumb, the two parameters being compared are always the denominator and numerator of the relevant elasticity formula. For example, for PED, we compare the change in price against the change in quantity demanded. Some students mistakenly express that ‘a change in supply leads to a more than proportionate change in quantity demanded’. The parameters being compared here are wrong.

Separately, unlike the concepts of PED, PES and YED, the use of XED value to examine whether two goods are closely related does not depend on whether XED exceeds or falls below 1 (although this is acceptable as well). Instead, we consider whether XED is highly positive or negative to assess how closely related the two goods are.


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