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Your Complete Guide to A-Levels in Economics

By Yann, published on 26/06/2018 We Love Prof - IN > Academia > Economics > A Guide to Economics A-Levels

As though adolescence weren’t angsty enough!

The social competition and finding one’s confidence, being overcome with a desire to make one’s mark on the world only to be constrained by parents and school teachers and social mores…

On top of all that, you have to prepare for a life-altering exam!

For some students preparing to sit A-Levels, the ordeal is a challenge to be met head-on.

For others, it is an agony of indecision: selecting from the available topics, and then deciding which one to drop, if any, from the second year.

And the self-study! Talk about a trial by fire for teenaged scholars: finding the discipline to open the books and review for hours, all on one’s own, when friends and other, more enticing activities beckon…

Plenty of studies have been conducted and a lot has been written about a healthy work/life balance, but what about an effective study/life balance?

Let Superprof guide you in establishing an organised pattern of study by providing you with an array of tools and materials you can use in your reviews.

Along the way, we’ll discuss why you shouldn’t drop Economics studies in your second year.

Are you ready? Relax, take a deep breath and read on!

What is on the Economics A-Levels Syllabus?

You economics syllabus may deal with these concepts and more You may find all of these economics concepts and more spelled out in your syllabus! Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt

If you are preparing to sit you economics A-Levels, most likely you have already sat your Economics GCSE.

In other words, you are already familiar with:

  • the concepts related to scarce resources versus unlimited wants

  • production factors such as capital and enterprise

  • producers, consumers and governments, and their impact on the economy.

Your previous exam merely touched on macroeconomic theory and principles of microeconomics, while requiring a significant display of quantitative skills: the construction of graphs and various calculations.

One might say that the A-Levels syllabus reverses GCSE’s priorities.

Sitting A-Levels, you will be called on to discuss macroeconomics and microeconomic theory in depth, while mostly only interpreting the graphs presented to you.

Naturally, you may still want to work a calculus session or two into your studies, just to keep your hand in!

Today’s A-Levels syllabus is modular, as opposed to a linear progression from topic to topic, as in previous years.

What this means for you is that you have concretely delineated milestones of material to master before moving on.

Module 1, itself divided into two portions, covers aspects of microeconomics: how the microeconomy works, and why markets have a tendency to fail.

Module 2, equally presented in two parts, covers the macroeconomy.

To successfully complete this part of the exam, you should stay abreast of current events and recent economic trends!

Here, you will be challenged to explain the workings of the macroeconomy, with the second half of the study module calling on you to discuss the consequences of macroeconomics.

Terms such as GDP, GNP and inflation will be bandied about; get ready for them!

A Word on Reforms

English students sitting exams next year (2019) may see a substantial difference in the way their exam is presented.

The current modular structure may revert to the previously used linear structure, meaning that any needed resits will require you to sit the whole exam, not just the module you failed to score satisfactorily on.

No need to worry about format changes if you are in Wales or Northern Ireland, your exam will retain its modular structure.

Why not study economics, a fascinating discipline? The reasons to study economics are as varied as the questions in this picture! Source: Pixabay Credit: 3271136

Why Study Economics, Anyway?

Considering all of the aforementioned pressures of being a teen makes one wonder how and why any of them would choose a ponderous subject like economics for further study.

This next is only speculation…

Just as students in America have been spurred into political activism by events happening in their country, gloomy post-Brexit economic forecasts may compel British students to seek a deeper understanding of international economics and economic theory in general.

Again: that is all supposition… but not a bad reason to study the principles of economics, at that!

Economics is, fundamentally, the study of human behaviour.

More than monetary concerns or simple accounting and statistics, the blanket term ‘economics’ involves analytical dissection of individual, group, corporate, societal and international responses to applied economics.

It is true that there is a serious amount of mathematics required to obtain a degree in economics – especially should you pursue a Bachelor of Science in Economics as an undergraduate.

Still, the many disciplines that combine to make up economics courses – sociology and psychology among them! and indeed the social science called economics have an allure that is hard to resist.

You only have to read a few of these prospective economic majors’ purpose statements to understand the draw that the world of economics has!

Other great reasons to major in economics include:

  • understanding of how the world works – money does indeed make the world go ‘round, but what factors go into making financial decisions?

  • understanding yourself better: just as there is a philosophy behind every economic model, you have a motivation driven by personal experience to spend, save and invest as you do.

  • Understanding consequences: more so than even the decision-makers themselves, the economist understands the unintended consequences of economic decisions

    • they are also aces at detecting patterns!

  • you won’t find many economists in the unemployment lines!

The job market is so hungry for workers well-versed in economic concepts just now: in the financial sector, in civil service and even in politics.

Now that you are on fire with ideas for your future career, let’s go find materials to study with!

The Best Economics A-Levels Revision Materials

Let us apply the law of diminishing returns to A-Levels test prep by supposing you increase your study time, but don’t vary your study materials or the way you study.

Under this law, your retention rate of economic principles will slow, if not stop altogether.

How to avoid that scenario?

There are three variables in this equation and one constant: you.

That means that planning your study schedule, switching up your study materials and the way you study will lead to a more constant consumption (and retention) of information… right?

Fortunately for you, there exists an entire library of study materials, from economic history to econometrics, right at your fingertips.

The Internet is all about asking the right question, and then sorting through the many answers.

Plenty of sites charge a pretty penny for a complete packet of Economics revision materials, along with full tutor support.

Why pay for something that is available elsewhere for free?

On the other hand, you could engage a supportive Superprof tutor who has review materials at a fraction of the cost some of those other sites charge!

Tuition from a qualified mentor is one way to vary your study time and methods.

Among other qualities, tutors are great at keeping students motivated, and your tutor could even help you plan an effective study schedule!

Besides maximising your study time with a tutor, you could relieve a bit of stress by playing games which incorporate economics study.

Using flashcards is another way to take your learning on the go… but who wants to carry around a deck of cards?

The Quizlet app fits neatly on any phone and you can find economics study flashcards, and play games, as well!

Of course, games can only take you so far. That is why we’ve compiled more serious review materials in this table.

Site NameWeb AddressContents summaryCost
The Economics Networkhttp://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/links/othertl.htmA compilation of video, audio and text related to economics studyfree
O&A Level Noteshttp://www.oalevelnotes.com/economics-as-and-a-level-notes/A miscellaneous collection of notes for review free
Tutor 2 U
https://www.tutor2u.net/economics
Halfway down the page: flashcards and select essays to review Between £5 - 14 per item
Cambridge Noteshttps://www.oxbridgenotes.co.uk/t/economicsAn assortment of economics-related papers Starting at £16.95

Another fine source of review materials is past papers… 

Frustration is a very real problem for students Avoid getting tired of studying by changing up the way you study! Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt

Where Can You Find Economics A-Levels Past Papers?

For universities everywhere in the UK, a satisfactory A-Levels result is the most important criterion for admission.

Thus it follows that everyone sitting economics A-Levels hopes to one day to apply to the Department of Economics at the University of his/her choice.

The same holds true for A-Levels test takers everywhere in the world, as evidenced by the proliferation of Cambridge International Exams, or CIE.

They are administered by OCROxford Cambridge RSA, one of five awarding bodies in the UK, and by far the largest.

The other four are:

  • AQA: a government regulated, independently operated charity

  • Edexcel: the one examination board in the UK that is privately owned

  • WJEC: originally a Welch examination board

  • CCEA: an education public body that works with the Northern Ireland Education Department

One additional test administrator oversees Scotland’s Highers and Advanced Highers: SQA, the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

If you are Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, there is less of a question which exam you will sit.

If you are English, you may be exposed to any awarding body’s papers.

No matter where you live in the UK, it is a good idea to review all of the most recent past papers for your Economics exams you can find, from every administrating body, rather than study the archival documents from only the examining body you anticipate will test you.

For that purpose, we’ve created this list of sites where such papers can be found. Please copy and paste each address into your browser.

Site NameWeb Address
(please copy and paste into your browser)
AQA past papershttp://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/business-subjects/gcse/business-subjects-and-economics-4130/past-papers-and-mark-schemes
OCR past papershttps://revisionworld.com/a2-level-level-revision/economics-level-revision/economics-level-past-papers/ocr-level-economics-past-papers
Edexcel past papershttps://revisionworld.com/a2-level-level-revision/economics-level-revision/economics-level-past-papers/edexcel-level-economics-past-papers
WJEC/CBAC past papershttp://www.wjec.co.uk/qualifications/economics/
CCEA past papershttp://ccea.org.uk/qualifications/past_papers_mark_schemes/gce
SQA past papershttps://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/48674.html?subject=Economics

By planning your study sessions effectively, by diversifying your study materials; by knowing what to expect on exam day and being ready for it, you will surely earn placement to the curriculum of your dreams!

Be sure to let us know you how things went! 

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