5 Pieces of Advice for an IB Economics Student

Written By : Jon P. 

While Learning: 

1-Always be thinking about outcomes and effects for stakeholders 

When learning about changes in market output in all units of the course, (Micro, Macro, The Global Economy) it’s important to recognize the changes in price or price level along with changes in output. There are a lot of evaluative outcomes from these changes.  In micro, a candidate can always evaluate the effect of price and output change on multiple stakeholders; this being consumers, producers, government and society as a whole with effects on social surplus and the presence of welfare loss to suggest effects on allocative efficiency.  Changes in consumer expenditure and producer revenue help explain the positive or negative outcomes for these stakeholders.  Evidence can further be provided through identifying changes in both consumer and producer surplus as well as government revenue or spending. In macro changes in output suggest changes in unemployment, inflation and average income as well as identify output gaps by which evaluations can be made on economic well being.  Lastly, for the purpose of evaluating protectionism, as a main theme in the global economy section of the course, requires all of the aforementioned evaluations for the micro section but includes foreign firms as either consumers or producers in the case of international trade through imports and exports.  Be sure to identify all the stakeholders domestic and abroad for full credit. These effects build the evaluative conclusions made regarding the economic activity or proposal. 

2-Read the news

Reading the news provides a number of advantages to students of IB economics.  Though this practice takes time and is possibly not the most interesting task, a candidate can plan for assessment through gaining knowledge of global economic events. In particular the IA is supported through this practice as it is a requirement of the course to find articles for the completion of the IA portfolio.  A student will need to choose an article for each section of the course and it’s my belief that there are considerable dividends in finding an ideal article. This in itself requires the review of a considerable quantity of news but it’s also a habit that will support the external exams. For Paper 1, Part B evaluative, short essay questions the candidate is required to use a real world example in delivering the context of an economic outcome and provide an evaluation to this example. On paper 1, you can choose between questions from each unit of the course. Having knowledge of many real world examples to draw on in the case of the exam helps the student choose between the 3 options for the response 

3-Always consider the interconnected nature of economic theory

True economic analysis and evaluation requires outcomes considered from all angles and in many cases economic theory is interconnected.   When considering microeconomic problems there are many considerations with regards to the efficiency of markets.  Allocative efficiency, as a concept, will apply to any market changes and remembering that the price mechanism is natural with the forces of supply and demand causing price to allocate resources.  When these outcomes are considered along with the intervention or change in the market, connections can be made easily across topics and potentially markets.  Be mindful and don’t necessarily try to apply the concept of market failure if it’s not necessary.  This complicates outcomes and is the true form of allocative efficiency where MSB=MSC. There are also strong connections between macroeconomic concepts and trade (with net exports being a part of the AD calculation) as well as development concepts tied to the supply side policies designed to focus on long term growth. 

While revising: 

4-Find consistencies with assessment

If a candidate looks at the assessment criteria for Paper 1, there are standardized assessment criteria for these questions, both a) and b).  Be mindful of these requirements as it’s good advice to succeed on this paper but you should see the connections of these and the other extended answers on both paper 2 and paper 3 for HL students.  The part g) component of paper 2 is very similar to the part b) assessment criteria on paper 1.  The format should be similar with the exception being that the “example” on paper 1 is instead the case provided as the source material. The student must remember to use (quote) the case a number of times to support their evaluation of the case scenario outlined in the question (part g).   Also in this regard, a similar approach to both these questions should be taken in the IA where the article chosen is the example for your evaluative response.  Also the 10 mark policy question on paper 3, has very similar assessment criteria as the part a) question on Paper 1. 

5-Remember the equipment 

Calculators are permitted on both papers 2 and 3 for HL students.  Don’t forget a reliable calculator for part b) questions on Paper 2 and most of Paper 3.  A small ruler would help for making clear graphs and pencils are allowed for graph making on the tests, but a ballpoint pen of black or blue should be used for the exams.  A simple translation dictionary can be used for non-language exams. 

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