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A State Ranker's Guide to Economics (2 Viewers)

mreditor16

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A State Ranker's Guide to Economics (Part 1)

Introduction

So, after requests from some BOSers (e.g. enigma_1 and hawkrider) for a guide to Economics to be written by me, I have succumbed to their request. Haha :D And, also, before I begin, it has been many months since I did Economics, so if there are many mistakes, please point them out. And feedback and questions on anything related to what I say or economics in general will be most appreciated.

First of all, for those who may ask, my credentials. I completed HSC Economics in 2013 (note – I accelerated it, and finishing my remaining HSC subjects in 2014). I got 97 overall (giving me a state rank yay!) – with an internal of 94 and an external of 99 (which was a raw mark of 98).

Now, from this, leads to one quick (I hope) point, which I like to emphasise and is also relevant for a lot of other subjects. Keep attention to the weightings of each school assessment you have and how much losing one mark in each assessment will be of an impact, and keep that in mind when you approach your studies. For example, let’s look at what happened to me:

So I had four assessments:

• A Case Study Task – worth 25%
o This involved researching your case study country, finding latest statistics on them, and being able to bring in one page of stats to a 40 minute exam, and then writing an extended response to a case study essay question given on the day, with the assistance of the one page statistics sheet you brought into the exam.
• Half-Yearly – worth 20%
• Research Task – worth 25%
o This involved learning and researching two chapters from Topic 3 (Economic Issues) – Unemployment and Distribution of Income & Wealth. All statistics had to be revised and updated. Then, the content of these chapters would be tested in two short-answer questions.
• Trial – worth 30%

Now, that may look fine and rightly balanced. But think again:

• Case Study = 25% weighting = out of 20 marks  thus, every mark that you lose is 1.25 overall marks
• Half-Yearly = 20% weighting = out of 70 marks  thus, every mark that you lose is 0.29 overall marks
• Research Task = 25% weighting = out of 20 marks  thus, every mark that you lose is 1.25 overall marks
• Trial = 30% weighting = out of 100 marks  thus, every mark that you lose is 0.3 overall marks

Now just look at that. Doing bad in that Case Study and Research Task makes a massive massive difference, and performing poorly in those two assessments are hard to bounce back from.

In the first assessment, I approached it wrongly, and got 16/20 – below the average of just over 16. I did very well in three other assessments (top or very close to every time), BUT I could not make up for that loss I had made up at the beginning. And I ended up ranked 7th after all internal assessments, meaning I was allotted a moderated internal of 94. If I had done even a few marks better in the first one (e.g. 18), I would have easily got 1st in the school for internals, thus receiving my external mark of 99 as my internal, and thus coming 1st in the state.

So what I’m trying to say there is every assessment counts and when you approach each assessment (especially in regard to time management), keep in mind the weighting of each task, what each task is out of – and hence the impact of each assessment on your marks and thus internal rank. This applies to every subject, and as you can see what happened with me, two marks in one assessment was the difference between 94 internal & 97 overall vs. 99 internal and 99 overall. So every mark does count.

So let’s see what I did wrong with the first assessment (and what you can learn from it) and this will lead into my actual tips for Economics.
 
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mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Case Study

Okay, first of all, some good resources for Case Studies can be found here – http://community.boredofstudies.org/22/economics/228938/case-study-information.html

Now, with Case Study, what I basically did wrong and what was a common mistake of many students in my cohort was overloading with stats. I had this mindset going into the exam to impress the marker with as many as statistics as possible and how I had the latest ones, and I would include them all. And that just overwhelmed me when it came to exam time. I had no solid line of thought and my ideas were disjointed, and it was basically me just rambling off statistics which were relevant but not integrated into an argument that was coherent and made sense.

So when you get a case study question, treat it like a normal essay yeah (which I will hopefully go on to talk about, in the next edition of this study guide), and develop a flow of ideas, which you can link back to the question, implicitly or explicitly. And then use statistics to support any ideas you raised. Statistics are good support and well appreciated by markers, but by themselves they are of no use.

Also, please don’t do China or Brazil or Indonesia – they’re overdone and you can still do well with a completely obscure country. For example, my class was forced to do Spain and it was still perfectly fine. All you need essentially are the stats and examples, and you can easily source them for pretty much any country from news websites and economic websites.

Also, get stats in three phrases. What I mean by this is that the main period of globalisation began after the end of the Cold War (which was like early 1990s) and has dropped off from its rapid speed in the early 2000s. So, in your essay, it would be good to define the main period of globalisation as during the 1990s and hence when giving stats, give three of them – one from pre-1990s (pre-globalisation), one during mid-1990s (main globalisation phase) and one in the last 10 years or so (post-globalisation).

For example, if you’re saying how globalisation has resulted in increased trade, then you could say how net exports was …… in 1988, then showed a drastic increase to ….. in 1995, then a continued yet slower increase to … in 2002. Also, if you’re linking the GFC and/or the Sovereign Debt Crisis into your essay (which would be good to talk about, as you could say that globalisation has led to increasing financial flows and synchronisation of domestic business cycles, as seen with the similar downturns in many economies during GFC and also in regard to PIIGs economies etc.), then it would be good to have one statistic immediately prior to the big decrease (in say economic growth) and then one stat for the lowest point reached (the trough) and then maybe one latest one (to show recovery).

But still, going back to my original point, don’t focus too much on stats, just develop a structured and coherent line of thought / thesis to the Q you get on the day, and then provide logical explanations (something which the top students do to stand above the crowd – I’ll talk about this next) supported with examples and stats here and there.

Also, second last thing – the best two websites for me personally were www.data.worldbank.org and www.tradingeconomics.com

And, one last thing – make sure to structure any notes you make on the dot points provided in the syllabus, on the page that talks about the case study.

Okay, now onto something which I see in the best students –
 
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mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Explaining Your Ideas and Concepts

Okay, this is a big problem I notice with the people who know their stuff but aren’t getting top marks. So, here’s a question from last year’s HSC I did – a rather unconventional question if I say so myself.

A highway currently passes through a country town. The government is proposing to build a bypass that diverts highway traffic away from the town. Discuss the costs and benefits of this proposal.

Note, that the question is 4 marks first of all. Now, here is a sample answer my friend did:

Diverting traffic away from the town will reduce negative externalities such as noise and air pollution for the town citizens; thereby increasing their quality of life. Further, the project will naturally generate employment and also improve living standards for individuals within the economy. Indeed, the government expenditure (G) involved will raise the level of aggregate demand within the economy (AD = C + I + G + (X-M)), and will therefore have a multiplied effect on national income (since deltaY = k .deltaAD). This will again improve quality of life.

On the other hand, the diversion of traffic away from the town will reduce the demand for the goods and services of businesses operating in the town; especially local shops and small businesses that do not have access to international or even interstate markets. This will reduce their profits, and consequently, their standard of living.



It’s not bad – but definitely not 4/4. And of course every mark counts. So let’s see where there is area for improvement with this answer. Let’s deconstruct this answer, so I can give some pointers:


1. First of all, it would be good to talk about costs first and then benefits, because the question introduces it in this order. So that’s one thing to definitely consider.

2. The student has tackled the question right away and that’s good to see. Don’t waste time on topic sentences or restating the question.

3. Now, when the student says “generate employment and also improve living standards for individuals within the economy” – that makes sense, but for the top marks it is not enough.

You need to be more specific and here is what I’ll be mainly be talking about in this section – it is saying A will lead to B will lead to C will lead to D, not just saying A will lead to D, which is what so many good students foolishly don’t do and this irritates markers. In doing what I suggest (i.e. explain it fully), you also show your depth of knowledge across the whole syllabus and different topic areas, and how you can link different economic concepts together.

So here you could say something like “The project will generate increased employment in the manufacturing and construction sectors, increasing incomes of those employed due to the project and thus improving overall living standards for individuals in the economy, as one’s income is critical to their quality of life” See what I did there – clear links from one concept to another.

4. It is good to see that the student has used connecting terms such as “naturally” and “indeed”, because that displays you’re following a line of thought. But at the same time don’t overdo it – you don’t want to be wasting too many words on it.

5. As another example to show you, when the student says “Indeed, the government expenditure (G) involved…” – what the student can go on to say is that this may place a constraint on the budget, contributing to a shift towards a budget deficit, which then requires a deficit to be financed by borrowing from the private sector, which may lead to crowding out and so on. This shows how you’re linking the initial impact to a further impact to a subsequent impact and all that – and you’re explaining it using appropriate and sophisticated economic terminology and theory.

6. Also, the use of the equation for aggregate demand gets kudos, but remember never to overdo the use of equations – pretty much in any short answer, 1 or 2 is max.

7. Now, a slight problem with the first paragraph of the student’s first paragraph is that most of the benefits have arrived at increased quality of life, which is good. But to get the top marks, you want to be talking about a diverse range of impacts to show the marker you can link stuff together and you know your stuff in all areas.

So, for example, here you could say something like “Increased aggregate demand, however, may then lead to increased inflation and increased demand for imports, worsening the BOGS and CAD, which may then require the use of macroeconomic policy to deal with these issues.” This would be a good addition, because pretty much all the points the student has raised in their answer are “small-picture stuff” so you want to be looking a bit at the “big-picture” impacts as well.

And also a good thing about using this point at the end of the student’s section about benefits is that it links well into the part on costs of the proposal. In fact, if a question is asking for advantages/disadvantages, after talking about say a positive impact, if you can then go on to say this benefit will however lead to this, then cause this and then result in such a negative impact, this will be great, and the marker will love it.

This will be much more important if you are answering a “discuss/analyse/evaluate/assess” question where you do need to look at both sides. And, also, linking into that is make sure to remember to give a final evaluation (even, if it is cheesy) when answering an “evaluate/assess”question for short answer questions.

8. Also, before I go on to talk about the student’s paragraph about the costs of the proposal, one point you could talk about (because you don’t want be focussing too much on just the economic side) is how another benefit could be the decreased traffic congestion in the town, since there would be fewer vehicles passing through the area. This may improve transport services in the area provided to local businesses, improving the efficiency of local businesses and lowering their costs, which may then be passed onto consumer or may be used to fund research into innovation and development, to improve business practices. And you get what I mean.

Now, since I have analysed this student’s answer quite a bit, I’ll make my comments on the second part of the student’s answer much briefer.

1. Okay, so with this last paragraph, the student really didn’t have enough. They pretty much had one impact and talked a bit about follow-on effects and had a bit of elaboration to go with it. As a minimum, for this sort of 4-mark question, you need two main costs, with some elaboration and follow-on effects, and two main benefits, with some elaboration and follow-on effects.

2. The student’s first paragraph very nearly reaches this standard, but not the second one. Speaking of which, when people ask me about my number one tip, a common thing I say to people is that in Economics you really need to know your stuff, because when you get to the exam, to get the top marks, you need the stuff to be just coming out of your head straight to your hand – pretty much you don’t have much time to stop and pause.

It also means that you really have to spend some time revising how you link different economic issues, policies, and concepts – which is one of the most important skills you will need for short answers and extendeds (as I’ve touched on above)

Also, to help you see what else the student could have done, in their section on costs of the proposal, they could have also talked about:
• In the short term, negative externalities of noise and air pollution associated with the construction of the bypass would increase, as well as increased depletion of natural resources.
• The destruction of property and farmland to build the bypass, as well as potential displacement of people from their homes where the bypass is built etc.
 
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mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

To Be Continued….

That’s how much I have to contribute so far. I am also now currently working on additions to this study guide, in particular sections on how to tackle the test paper when in exam conditions (especially how to approach the extended responses, as I’ve largely covered how to deal with it shorter answers above). Also, I’ll be writing up a section on my very unconventional learning and revising style, which involved writing no notes. But more on that, very soon. :D

Okay, that’s it for now. Feedback and comments will be appreciated!

Thanks! :D
 
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mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Oh yep, and so more people can get some benefit from this, BUMP! :D
 

Drifting95

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Great detail in your guide, love it. Good luck with the rest of your hsc !
 

mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Great detail in your guide, love it. Good luck with the rest of your hsc !
Thanks a lot for the feedback, Drifting. Hope you're enjoying your degree and time at UTS! :D
 

mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Solid effort mate!

Very comprehensive guide - clearly outlined and relevant. :)
Thanks mate! Good luck with economics and your other subjects the next two years! :D
 

matchalolz

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

thank you kind soul <3
 

enigma_1

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Thanks so much!! Really good advice :)
 

Drifting95

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

Thanks a lot for the feedback, Drifting. Hope you're enjoying your degree and time at UTS! :D
UNSW haha, see my sig :p

If you get into Co-op you're pretty much set, heaps of scholarship money and awesome internships guaranteed.
 

dangerouss

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

You are so so inspiring and I appreciate that you took the time to write this guide :) very comprehensive and in depth - perfect :) <3 and all the best with trials and the upcoming hsc!
 

trungduong12

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

+1 :D


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

UNSW haha, see my sig :p

If you get into Co-op you're pretty much set, heaps of scholarship money and awesome internships guaranteed.
Lol my bad, I miss read it as UTS. Sorry! :D

haha yeah, but its so friggin competitive haha.

thanks again! :D
 

mreditor16

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

You are so so inspiring and I appreciate that you took the time to write this guide :) very comprehensive and in depth - perfect :) <3 and all the best with trials and the upcoming hsc!
haha that touched my heart. Hope I will be able to help you achieve better in economics.
 

dangerouss

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

haha that touched my heart. Hope I will be able to help you achieve better in economics.
And I hope that I can do half as well as you did ^^ haha (I'll rep later cause I'm on tapatalk)
 

dangerouss

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Re: A State Ranker's Guide to Economics - HSC (and Prelim)

brb going to stalk mreditor16 (semi srs)
 

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