Many students ask “How to write a good economics essay?” This Guide to Writing an Economics Essay is applicable to both the IB economics as well as the Singapore JC/A Level H2 economics examinations.
This guide contains tips for writing economics essays and is also applicable to large-mark case study questions. Thus, it is actually also applicable to H1 Economics students.
5 Steps to Writing a Good Economics Essay (& even Large-mark Case Study Questions)
Step 1: DISSECT the Question
Make sure you analyse and fully understand the KEYWORDS and REQUIREMENTS of the question. This is a very important skill that is taught in Mr Hong’s econs tuition classes.
For example, “Best”, “Most effective” are closely related but mean different things.
Paraphrase the question to make it simpler if necessary.
Take note of the command word (eg: Explain, Discuss) as it determines the approach needed for the essay, whether two sides are needed or one side is sufficient. Below are some common examples found in economics questions:
Command Words Action Required
Account for Explain why lah!
Analyse Break it down into step-by-step explanations lor!
Assess For & Against. Consider other factors.
Compare Identify Similarities & Differences
Distinguish Point out differences
Discuss Talk cock lah! And cover both(
Describe Increasing / Decreasing? Large? Negative?
Evaluate Talk more cock! Good and Bad.
Explain Say why lah! Use examples/illustrations
Explain whether Cover both sides/possibilities & Judgment
Examine Look closely. Sure or not? How so and how not so?
Comment Give your opinion. Better cover both(
Suggest Give possible reason
To What Extent Well…..But….Judgment
Remember to look out for the context in the question. This is usually given in the form of a country (eg: Singapore). The examples in your essay must be tailored to this particular context (for example, do not suggest interest rate policy for Singapore). If no context is given, any example can be used.
Keep in mind the question throughout the essay and remember to always answer the question. Don’t go off-point!
Common Examiner’s Comment :
Not Answering Question (NAQ)
Step 2: Plan
Take some time to consider what economic framework you will use to approach the question. Scribble down your main thesis and anti-thesis points. Ensure they ANSWER THE QUESTION.
Step 3: How to write an economics essay introduction
In the introduction, include definitions of keywords in the question and spell out the economic framework you will employ for your answer as well as key definitions.
Step 4: BODY
In the body, there will be several paragraphs.
The number of points/paragraphs depends on the question. It is common to require about three main points for each 10 mark essay and about 5 for 15 mark essay questions.
Use one paragraph for each main point you are making.
However, do not be too focussed on the number of points or paragraphs. The key is to answer the question.
For each body paragraph, I use my self-devised, extended or advanced PEEL(ED) structure. Include only one main idea per paragraph.
- Point – Write your point in the first sentence so that markers will know what the paragraph will be about. The topic sentence must directly answer the question!
- Explanation – Explain what you mean
- Elaboration – Provide further analysis with clear step-by-step economic reasoning. This part may be done with examples as well as diagrams.
- Link – Link your explanations back to the Point and to answer the question.
- Exemplification – Give an example to support your reasoning. It can be statistics or real-world examples (for Case Studies, evidences from the Case must be uncovered!)
- Diagram – Draw an appropriate diagram with correct labelling and refer to it in your answer. This is crucial to show economic reasoning.
These are of course such easier said than done! Thus, students in Mr Kelvin Hong’s economics tuition classes are regularly honed to achieve such output including with tips and tricks to spark off the correct thinking.
Our resources including the Study Guides for A Level and IB economics examinations also provide a very powerful and handy reference on the depth of analysis required to score the highest marks.
Common Examiner’s Comment :
Mere statements and claims. No economic rigour.
Step 5: CONCLUDING SECTION
Earn evaluation marks by making a reasoned judgement. Deliver your verdict like a Judge!
Check back on the question before you embark on this. Ensure your judgement answers the question.
So the question now is, how does a judge arrive at and deliver a verdict ?
Certainly, you should not be summarising or merely paraphrasing your main points in the conclusion. Obviously, you cannot expect more marks by saying the same thing over and over again!
Common Examiner’s Comment :
Repetitive. Mere Summary.
Here are some quite common types of Concluding Sections
- Consider the relative importance of thesis and anti-thesis factors. Which factors are most important or pertinent in the given context? For example, are certain policies better fit for specific economies ?
- Consider short-term vs long-term pros and cons. Do the short-term benefits outweigh the long-term costs? Is the policy more effective in the long-term, and if so, how pressing is the problem that needs to be addressed?
- Suggest a multi-policy approach, in which each policy has strengths and weaknesses that allow them to complement each other.
However, there is no way to really memorise evaluation points as every question and context is different. Of course right?! You are tested on higher-order thinking…
There are other tips that Mr Hong’s students will receive but the key point here is that the training of the mind to think and apply economics is essential. That is where Mr Hong’s weekly IB & JC / A Level economics tuition online lessons come in and that is why students are often asked questions in class, trained to think on their feet and as Xue Min from YJC noted, Mr Hong does not just spoon-feeds the students but mentors them in their thinking to arrive at the answers.
In your essay, write in simple and clear sentences. Everything you write should be value adding. You do not have to spend time showing off vocabulary as no extra points are awarded for language. Focus on economic reasoning. Use succinct and effective examples which support the point you are trying to make and accurate diagrammatic analyses.
*(Check in class with Mr Hong on which types of questions this applies)
For our model essays books that are sold worldwide, please check out our A Level IB Economics Study Guides and Model Essays Publications
About The Economics Tutor
Founded by Kelvin Hong in 1998, The Economics Tutor is one of the leading economics tuition in Singapore. We provide a comprehensive program to guide students in understanding complex economic concepts and applying them through case study analyses, essay writing and discussion of real world events.
For 24 years, the way we teach JC Economics Tuition (A Level Economics Tuition) and IB Economics Tuition classes helped learners appreciate economics and everything it entails on a much larger scale. We take things step-by-step, implement effective techniques in memorising frameworks and give every student the chance to nurture their ideas.
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