Category Archives: Economics

Essay Prep

Once a week I now take my 1.5 year AS Economics class through writing 101 for Economics. I’m yet to see how the results will go at exam time but I’m loving to think what I can do with these students for 1.5 years of how to write effectively in Economics.

I’m always looking for new writing tips and styles. Hopefully I can find some online around the world to give my students the edge!

Keep reading, keep writing and never stop learning. Success will come!

Mr Contuzzi

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A Level Economics? Basic Expectations

What can I expect from studying Economics?

Difficulty

As in a case of any subject, the level of difficulty perceived by an individual varies. It requires a substantial amount of effort in order to understand the key concepts. This can be a huge put off at first, however if you do manage to overcome this stage, then it will become more straightforward.

Workload

Students would be expected to participate in class, be active as that’s the best way to learn (actually, this method can be applied to many others subjects, not only Economics). The introductory period might be slightly challenging, you may possibly be confused at some stages. Economics at A-level is all about understanding, therefore make sure you know relatively well what has been already been covered before heading to next chapter. Topics tend to relate one to another, so it will be harder to understand one without prior comprehension of the previous ones.

Required Individual Study

Apart from doing homework on a regular basis, I would strongly advise to read economics news in your free time. It’s not that hard. You can, for example, assign 15 minutes every morning to read some economics-related articles. BBC has a perfect section for Economics news. The language used isn’t sophisticated, not much of a jargon. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t understand everything at once. It takes time. Gradually you will realise that some issues keep arising every now and then. Another helpful tool is as a group in class collect articles or news releases on recent economics events and break them down for the first 10 mins of every class. It not only helps revise understanding but helps you understand the many different perspectives on certain issues that peers may have.

So, to cut long story short – read economics news!

On another note, this is entirely down to preference, however many students find it helpful to read up on upcoming topics as a means of putting into perspective what they will be learning. For example if you are going to learn a topic next week, you may find it useful to read the chapter in your textbook relating to that subject. This isn’t necessarily to give you a “head start” and make you a model student, it is just a way of learning certain vocabulary so your lesson will be more engaging.

Other than that I’m sure your teacher will help you organise a personal study plan to make sure everything is on track as you progress through the course.

 

GOOD LUCK

Mr Contuzzi 🙂

 

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Biz/ed – CPI or RPI: Measuring Prices | Biz/ed

Today, why don’t you have a look at some of the differences between CPI and RPI and how as economists have used these over time and going forward!

 

Thanks Biz/ed

 

Biz/ed – CPI or RPI: Measuring Prices | Biz/ed.

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Filed under Articles, Economic indicators, Economics, Education

Revision Tips for Economics Exams

As many of you are coming up to exams, here are some tips to get your revision on target for the all important exams.

Learning is Active Not Passive.

if you just read a textbook from start to finish, you will struggle to learn much. Active revision means that you are constantly thinking and trying to understand the concepts involved. This is the key to successful revision. Every 15 minutes, ask yourself what have I actually learnt? Don’t measure your revision by time spent, but amount of things learnt.

Work Out The Questions That May Appear in Exam.

The most important step in revision is to know the kinds of questions that may appear in the exam. It is insufficient to just know the topics. You need to think about the kinds of questions that might appear. It is essential to get hold of past papers. Make a list of common questions and try to think of possible variations. For example, if last year you had a question. “Discuss impact of interest rates on Exchange Rates.” maybe this year will be “Discuss impact of interest rates on inflation and Balance of Payments.”

Test Yourself.

Make a list of things you need to learn and questions that might appear. Then close all your books. What can you remember? Make a list of what you know and then when you are stuck, check up on what you missed and make a point of trying to remember these.

Understand The Mark Scheme.

A level exams are not just about knowledge and memorising facts. There is a high weighting (upto 40%) for evaluation. This means the ability to critically examine the material you present – looking at issues from different aspects and angles.

  • See some of my essay writing tips 😉
  • Using Data Responses: It is important that if you answering a data response, you actually make use of the data they give you. It may seem an obvious thing to say, but, many people forget about it. This shows that exam technique is just as important as learning

Planning

Some people spend hours creating complicated exam timetables, but, then don’t stick to it. It is important to plan your revision, but, keep it simple and realistic.

How Long To Revise for?

4 – 5 hours of revision a day is a lot. If you are revising properly and actively learning; you will make a lot of progress in 4 hours. Also, if you have a target for 4 hours a day, it doesn’t sound that intimidating. There should also be a point in the day, when you can cut off and do something completely different. Generally, it is good to get the revision sessions done early in the day; then it won’t be on the back of your mind all day.

Revise With Other People

It can be good to revise with other people; it can also be easy to get distracted and start talking of other things. Pick  your revision partners carefully, if they are more interested in chatting and gossiping, don’t try to revise with them. However, if they are committed to learning, it can be a good way to test each other and not get so bored.

 

This is just one method to approach your revision. Everyone understands and comprehends in a different manner. For a customised program, sit down with your teacher and find what works best for you.

Remember the early you plan this the better the results you will get.

 

Best of luck

Mr Contuzzi

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Economic indicators: Hot or not?

Here is a little taste from a great argument on Economic indicators: Hot or not?. Click the link for the full article and references 🙂

“FORTUNE — If you look closely, you can find economic indicators everywhere. Over the years, economists have examined everything from hemlines to men’s underwear sales to taxi availability to try and forecast the economy’s future.

But the recent turmoil has changed the way some economists look at their favorite indicators. Data that was seen as prescient a few years ago is all but considered a failure today. Some indicators that were once wallflowers are now in the spotlight.

Since uncertainty seems to reign these days, perhaps it’s not surprising that other major indicators, such as consumer confidence and stock market prices, have no clear consensus.

After taking an unscientific poll of economists and other soothsayers,Fortune has devised an official (for now, anyway) “Hot or Not” list of economic indicators, along with a couple that will always remain classics. Hello, ISM Manufacturing Index, and so long housing data!”

As an Economic educator I often fall into the trap of initially teaching the old favorite economic indicators so that students can grasp the concept. I believe the challenge for educators is to allow students to experience and explore causal links from a variety of indicators not just in economics but all around them.

What’s your favorite Economic indicator? and do you agree with the article about Fortune’s list?

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Filed under Articles, Economic indicators, Economics

How to Write and Economics Essay

1. Understand the Question.

Make sure you understand the essential point behind the question. Try to highlight the important sections of the question.

Example:

Q. Examine the macro economic implications of a significant fall in house prices, combined with a simultaneous loosening of Monetary Policy.

In plain English.

  • What is effect of falling house prices on Economy?
  • What is effect of falling interest rates (loose monetary policy) on economy

In effect there are two distinct parts to this question. It is a valid response, to deal with each separately, before considering both together.

2. Write in Simple sentences.

For clarity of thought, I usually find it is easier for students and as an economist to stick to writing shorter sentences. The main thing is to avoid combining too many ideas into one sentence. If you write in short sentences, it will feel like you are not putting in your full effort; but it is worth remembering that there are no extra marks for a Shakespearian grasp of English. (at least in Economics Exams)

Look at this response to a question:

Q. What is the impact of higher interest rates?

Higher interest rates increase the cost of borrowing. As a result, those with mortgages will have lower disposable income. Also, consumers have less incentive to borrow and spend on credit cards. Therefore consumption will be lower. This fall in consumption will cause a fall in Aggregate Demand, and therefore lead to lower economic growth. A fall in AD will also reduce inflation. (draw diagram)

I could have combined 1 or 2 sentences together, but here I wanted to show that short sentences can aid clarity of thought. Nothing is wasted in the above example. It is also helpful when sticking to tricky word counts 🙂

Answer the Question.

Quite frequently, when marking economic essays, you see a candidate who has a reasonable knowledge of economics, but unfortunately does not answer the question. Therefore, as a result, they can get zero for a question. It may seem harsh, but if you don’t answer the question, the examiner can’t give any marks.

At the end of each paragraph you can ask yourself; how does this paragraph answer the question? If necessary, you can write a one-sentence summary, which directly answers the question. Don’t wait to the end of the essay to realise you have answered a different question.

Example.

Discuss the impact of EURO membership on UK fiscal and monetary policy?

Most students will have revised for a question on: The Benefits and Costs of the EURO. Therefore, as soon as they see the EURO in the title, they put down all their notes on the benefits and costs of the EURO. However, this question is quite specific; it only wishes to know the impact on fiscal and monetary policy.

Evaluation.

The “joke” goes, put 10 economists in a room and you will get 11 different answers. Why? you may ask. The nature of economics is that quite often there is no “right” answer. It is important that we always consider other points of view, and discuss various different, potential outcomes. This is what we mean by evaluation.

For example:

The effect of raising interest rates will reduce consumer spending.

  • However, if confidence is high, higher interest rates may not actually discourage consumer spending.

If the economy is close to full capacity a rise in interest rates may reduce inflation but not reduce growth.

  • However, if there is already a slowdown in the economy, rising interest rates may cause a recession.

In A – Levels evaluation counts for 40% of the final Mark.

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