Many of my students frequently ask me – “Mr Teo, is there a JC Econs Model Essay out there that I can memorise and Ace my Econs? Can send me?”
Before we address this question directly, we will go through three big misconceptions 90% of JC students have for their Econs Essay.
Myth #1 : JC Econs Essay is just another Sec School’s Social Studies / History Essay.
Many students tell me – “Mr Teo, isn’t econs essay similar to what I’ve learnt in Sec Sch? Just another essay for me to argue my way out?” Well, yes and no. The only similarities between the two are they require candidates to display independent thinking skills and qualitative writing skill. However, the content difference between what you learnt in Sec School and JC Econs are of the total opposite. In Econs Essay, you can’t afford to “fool” your examiners by being deliberately vague and open-ended. This may work in Sec School but is the surest way to suicide in A Levels Econs. In your Econs essays, you are required to bring in specifically:
- Economic analysis – You have to bring in economic analysis to showcase that you know your stuff. Supposing you are required to explain why housing prices fall in Singapore, you can’t afford to be vague. You have to use demand and supply analysis to showcase your knowledge – fall in demand due to cooling measures (need to elaborate) imposed by Government and increase in supply for property developers (need to elaborate). Lastly, you have to link your economics analysis closely to your diagram(s) (covered below).
- Specific examples – Remember, specific is terrific. You have to bring in specific examples! If essay question requires you to explain expansionary fiscal policy in Singapore – an example of recent government spending in Singapore would be developmental spendings on infrastructures like Thomson and Downtown MRT line.
- Diagrams – You are seating for an Econs paper, not General Paper! If you find yourself not drawing any economics diagrams, there must be something wrong (Tips of Diagram Drawing to be covered below)!
Myth #2: There is no need to plan my JC Econs Essay.
Many students will also tell me: “aiyah.. no time to write already.. where got time to plan.”
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
We’ve asked many students if their school advocate any planning for their essays and 95% of them say no. The lecturers are clearly obsessed in covering how to answer the essay questions but often neglected the important step of planning how to.
90% of the students that are struggling to pass their econs essay do not plan their writing. Without adequate planning, they commit straight into the question, without fully understanding the actual requirements of the essay and this is the surest way to fail! Find out from our previous post: 4 life saving tips of writing JC Econs Essay here to help you with your planning!
And most importantly Myth #3 : There are model answers for essays out there for me to memorise.
According to a reason Straits Times article – Memorising exam answers won’t score you the As, as the heading suggest, candidates are no longer able to memorise their way out.
Candidates who wants to score A must be able to demonstrate clear understanding of economics concepts and independent thinking skills, in another words, put on your thinking cap and start evaluating base on different question requirements, especially when every questions are uniquely different.
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” – Alexander Pope
The most dangerous thing a candidate could do is to go to any major popular bookstores to buy these “so-called” model answers for JC essays. When students try to find shortcut and memorise all the essays in these assessments book, they run into a very big risk in answering out of point.
Yes, you may be lucky in memorising the correct “model answer” from these assessment books. But honestly, what are the odds of two exact same questions coming out for exams?
Also compare the following two questions:
a)”Discuss the usage of Fiscal Policy in Singapore to combat unemployment (15)” vs b)”Discuss the usage of Macro Policies in Singapore to combat unemployment (15)”
One word difference is all it takes to change the entire angling point of your essay paper. Try applying memorised answer of a) on b) (vice-versa) and I assure you this is the surest way to fail! A simple misunderstanding of a command word (fiscal vs macro) is fatal. Having a little knowledge on each question is dangerous. You need to comprehend the requirements of the question carefully by identifying the command words before you approach the question!
“If I can’t memorise, then how? Am I going to fail?”
Don’t worry! Throughout our decade long of teaching experience, we have developed a simple and structured framework called the 4 Step ACE Technique to help students to systematically tackle essay and big case study questions. We have attached a sample essay (for reference only, not model answer by any means) on how I have used this simple writing technique to helpmany students from “U” grade to “A” grade.
Download Suggested JC Essay Answer Scheme
If you have any troubles understanding how the technique work, we welcome you to our program and experience first hand how easily you can apply this technique on various different essay questions.
Lastly, having difficulties drawing diagrams? Don’t know how to effective relate diagrams to your essay?
Click below to download your exclusive e-book on “3 Little Known Ways To Draw Good Econs Diagrams”. Using my special VCR principle and see youressay / case study score improve immediately within 7 days!
Download Diagram E-book for Free
ACE Your JC Econs with Jeff
It’s important to use your time efficiently on economics exams. In the new (2013) syllabus, you only get 45 minutes per essay. And that’s not much time to do everything you need to do. It’s easy to waste time (i.e with introductions or descriptive writing) that earn you no marks at all. If you use this structure you’ll be sure to earn all of the possible marks for each of your IB Economics essays.
Some students will be able to write more than others, because they write more quickly. This structure was written with an average-writing-speed student in mind.
Part A (18 minutes)
Part A1: Definition and real life example
Definition: Define a key word in the question
Definition: Define either another key word in the question (if there is another one) or a related key word
Definition: Define either another key word in the question (if there is another one) or a related key word
Real life example: Briefly explain a real life example. Two sentences maximum; you’ll keep link back to this later in the essay.
Part A2: Draw and explain a diagram
Draw the diagram which will best help you to answer the question. Draw it accurately and fully labelled (I.e. “Price of Ice Cream, Quantity of Ice Cream, D1, S1, E1.”) and with a title on top.
Tell us what the diagram shows, in general.
Explain a specific insight of the diagram (i.e. “As the diagram shows, the warmer weather results in a greater demand for ice cream. At Price P1, the quantity demanded increases from Q1 to Q2.”)
Develop that insight further. Use points on the diagram to explain WHY greater demand for ice cream is causing the price of ice cream to increase. (i.e. “The rightward shift of the demand curve means that for any given price, more is demanded. And this puts an upward pressure on price. Producers get a signal from the market that there is excess demand, so they see that they can increase their prices and they do.”) This is often where the high marks are hidden for Part A questions –making sense of the theory for The Reader. (I always say think of “The Reader” as a simple guy who doesn’t understand any economics yet. He doesn’t understand the theory yet and doesn’t know any of your key words. If you can make this stuff make sense to such a person in the time allowed you’re a rock star).
Link your example to the diagram.
Part B (27 minutes)
In part B you are always being asked to evaluate –even if the word evaluate isn’t used. We have the CLASPP model, which lists a variety of types of evaluation. However, it’s useful to try to carefully structure your answer to do this well. To do this, we’re borrowing an approach you’ll learn in Theory of Knowledge. We’re going to treat the Part B question as a knowledge issue.
If you aren’t sure about this approach, you can read this. In general we’re basically trying to argue both sides of a case (i.e. how it’s good for stakeholders and then how it’s bad for them) and do this in a few different ways (i.e. the theory says X, but the theory depends on ceteris paribus, which doesn’t normally hold true). In this way (basically debating with ourselves) we can explore the strengths and weaknesses of the theory and make an informed conclusion.
Intro (Definitions, diagrams and case link)
It is okay to write things like, “As the diagram in Part A shows, … or “Demand, as defined in Part A, …” However, sometimes you’ll need to include additional definitions and diagrams to help you explain your evaluative points in Part B. You’ll have to make a judgment call on this.
Definitions. Define words that require definition. At least one.
Diagram. Draw a diagram if you’re going to need it for your explanation. This will be required about 50% of the time. Basically, if there is a diagram that relates closely to the question and it’s not already in your Part A answer, you’ll have to include it here.
If you do include a diagram do it like this:
Explain the diagram. What does it show in general.
Explain a specific insight of the diagram (i.e. “As the diagram shows, the increase in the price of vaccines has little effect on the quantity demanded.”)
Develop that insight further using points on the diagram (i.e. “The large increase in price from P1 to P2, results in only a slight decrease in demand from Q1 to Q2″).
Link the example to diagram and the question. “Therefore a tax on vaccines will result in decreased demand and is therefore hurts some stakeholders.”
Mention a real life example that relates to the question. It might be the same one you used in Part A. And provide one detail about it (i.e. “China’s grain output rose 5.4 percent 2008.”)
Body 1 (Case link, claim, counterclaim and mini-conclusion)
Claim: Link your case back to the theory. “As the diagram above (or in Part A) shows, this increase in supply would likely have resulted in a decrease in the market clearing price.” So you are answering the question of the case using course theory and also using your example.
Counterclaim: Criticize the theory. You could say, “However, this depends on everything else remaining constant (ceteris paribus), which only occurs in theory.” Point out that it depends on ceteris paribus, which almost never occurs. Or point out that it’s purely theoretical; it cannot be tested. Or perhaps there is something else unrealistic about the theory. Challenging theory like this is tough, but there are a lot of marks for you if you can do it well.
Miniconclusion: Link back to the question (answer the question). “So we can see that, it is likely that, in most cases, and an increase in supply will be followed by a decrease in the equilibrium price.”
Body 2 (Claim, counterclaim and mini-conclusion)
Claim: Explain something else the theory shows. Look to CLASPP for various ways to do this. We’ve already used “assumptions” (which is a very powerful one you should always try to include), so I’ll use stakeholders for this example. “Given that the market clearing price of vaccines will fall, a key advantage of the policy is that more consumers will be willing and able to consume them.”
Counterclaim: Criticize this claim
Mini-conclusion: Link back to the question (answer the question).
Body 3 (Claim, counterclaim and mini-conclusion)
Claim. (i.e. advantages)
Counterclaim (i.e. disadvantages)
Mini-conclusion. Answer the question (i.e. “Therefore the advantages outweigh the disadvantages in most cases”)
Draw together the insights of the different mini-conclusions you have made in your body paragraphs and come to a measured, qualified conclusion. Make sure you also answer the question here. It’s easy to , but also try to say something original. Show that you understand that policy decisions are complicated. For example, implementing theories has unintended consequences (i.e. hurting some stakeholders).
Thanks to Niamh Bowman for her great ideas and help with this structure. Niamh is an IB and MYP Economics and IB Theory of Knowledge teacher at the Overseas Family School in Singapore.
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