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I Didn't Score Well on Economics Case Studies till I Learnt These Secrets!

This post shares the secrets on how to score well on Economics Case Studies at A levels

Do you want to do well in Case Studies? These effective tips and techniques, if followed, will help you level up your game quickly so that you can score highly.

1. The first secret is pure common sense– really, really, really know your economics. 

Have you learnt and mastered your economics? The reality is that case studies are not English comprehension passages for you to find and paraphrase information, but require a grounding in economic theory. Studying hard for economics will provide you with strong theoretical economics to answer case studies properly.  

2. The second secret is to answer the actual question posed, and not what you imagine the question to be. 

If the examination question asks for real world examples, it is not the same as explaining economics using pure theory. Use real world examples, and link them to the relevant theory.

If the question asks for an answer from a particular source, use that source in your response or answer. Literally state: "In Source A" or "In Extract 1". It really is that simple to score in case studies!

If the question asks for a "comparison", it is different from an "evaluation". Literally state: "On the one hand, ... but on the other hand, ..." Alternatively, say that "One major similarity is", and "One major difference is". It really is that simple.

Always remember that if you do what the economics examiners want, they will reward you with an excellent economics grade. If you annoy them, then needless to say, they will not reward you but punish you instead. 

3. The third secret or pro tip is to get really comfortable with data-handling skills (in terms of charts, figures, statistical and textual knowledge). 

Can you read economic charts and diagrams, examine figures and tables critically, and understand facts from what you read?

Anyone can get better and better each and every day at understanding charts, diagrams, tables, and figures. While I know at first this might appear to be a challenging task, but with constant practice you will eventually reach a level of competence. It is like riding a bike - at first you are not so strong and in fact quite a bit wobbly. Eventually, you will be riding properly and wondering why people are having problems even balancing.

Read newspapers each and every day and visit online websites with facts and figures often, to get comfortable with data and figures. Newspapers (especially the business, finance, and money sections) and online sources are great places to look for economic data.

Ask yourself questions about the figures and data that you read. Put some hard work into understanding the newspapers' economic data, like GDP figures, unemployment figures, economic growth numbers, inflation statistics, and balance of payments figures. 

Try to take active steps each and every day to understand what you are looking at. Ask yourself some simple questions to learn more:

What is the context?

What is the economic story?

What is the underlying economic theory?

What economic theory can I use to understand this real world phenomenon?

What additional economic knowledge can bring to bear to understand the data? 

4. The fourth secret is to always use relevant diagrams to augment your economic analysis.

One of the biggest secrets is that, actually, A level Economics Case Studies are not really that fundamentally different from economics essay questions. Responses to the case study questions should be rightfully thought of as shorter and less detailed economics essays, but economics essays nonetheless. 

In an economics essay, you should use economics diagrams to demonstrate your point or argument. Therefore, similarly it stands to reason that in a Case Study context you should also use appropriate and relevant economics diagrams to buttress your case. This simple step would give you an edge over other economics students and help you score much better than they do. Just remember that A levels Economics Case Studies are really all about mini economics essays. 

5. The fifth secret is to always watch the mark allocation. 

A few jobs ago, I worked as an economics teacher at a leading junior college.

It used to amaze me all the time that economics students would write a whole page for a 2 or 4 mark question, yet they would only write half a page or one whole page for a 8 or 10 mark question. Does this strategy make sense? 

Surely, the fewer the marks, the more to the point the answer should be. The fewer the marks, the more direct the response required. In other words, do not write the same level of detail for all your responses. In fact, often times, economics tutors like myself were looking out for two arguments for two marks; three arguments made for three marks. We were not thinking in terms of an essay. For questions that were 5 or 10 marks, we were looking for essays - but we got economics points instead! Incredible.

Do remember to balance your time, effort, energy, and brainpower by the marks allocated. Economics tutors and teachers often focus students' attention on time management - I say that mark management is also important, if not even more important.

(Remember the economics concept of "opportunity cost" - and if you have to ask what that is, do re-read the secret tip Number 1.) 

Write more, explain more, elaborate more, use powerful and relevant diagrams, and evaluate more for higher mark questions - as I have said already, it really is the same strategy as an economics essay. 

Just remember the five important Secrets to Case Studies that I am sharing with you, and do them in your examinations - 

Really, really, really know your economics. Study hard!

Answer the question posed, not the one your imagination is telling you to answer. 

Get comfortable with data handling, whether charts, diagrams, statistics, or facts. 

Use relevant and useful economic diagrams in your mini-essays.

Watch the mark allocation; more marks, write more.

Good luck!

JC Economics Essays - In this post on my economics website, advice on how to succeed at economics case studies was given by a former economics tutor, based on a framework followed by many good economics teachers. This particular former economics tutor taught for around 3 years at one of the leading junior colleges, with many of his students doing well in the subject and going on to do economics at university. Special thanks to M S for his sharing and kind contribution. Thank you!

JC Economics Essays has a wide range of economics resources, such as economics essays at the A level standard (H1, H2, H3, and A level standards), and undergraduate and masters economics essays. In particular, JC Economics Essays has model A level economics essays and responses that students could use as a reference for learning, as well as tips and techniques for writing strong and well-argued essays. Thank you for reading.

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