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Study Tips for HSC Economics

By Kyra Todd in HSC
9th of January 2020

In order to effectively study for Economics, here is a list of tips!


1. Pay attention and consolidate your learning.

Economics is content heavy, so make sure you pay attention in class and take as many notes as possible to properly understand the theory. The understanding of the theory enables you to complete a range of past paper questions. The completion of past paper questions is essential to develop your understanding as well as familiarise yourself with the style of questions that you can expect during the trials and the HSC.


2. Keep up to date with the current economic conditions.

Follow what is happening in the media and also do your own research. Short answers and essays rely heavily on having current statistics and data. Keeping a record of the key statistics will help you remember these for the examinations. If you use the same statistics frequently, you will begin to retain the statistics and have the ability to incorporate these into your responses. For example, know the unemployment rate, inflation rate and cash rate.


3. Know the theory.

Take your time to understand the theory as you need to use and apply this throughout the entire Year 11 and Year 12 course. Once you learn the theory you can apply it to current and hypothetical economic situations in your exams (which is part of the marking criteria!).


4. Practise multiple choice questions regularly.

Economics multiple choice can be tricky as there are questions which require formulas and calculations. Also be extra careful when answering questions where there are multiple components. For example, from the 2019 HSC paper, you can see there are two theoretical concepts that need to be understood to answer this question on the TWI:

How to do well in HSC Economics

I recommend starting with the column you are most confident about (in this example, you may choose terms of trade and eliminate the two incorrect rows). Then consider the other (interest rates) column to determine the correct answer.


5. Key terms.

If you don’t directly answer a question in regards to the key term (usually at the start of the question i.e. Describe, Discuss, Compare) you are limiting your ability to gain full marks. Therefore, spend time familiarising yourself with the key terms and their definitions as well as adjusting your writing style to ensure you are using the correct language. For example, when answering a “Discuss” question, you need to include points ‘for and against’ in your response in order to be awarded maximum marks. If you only provide points for then it will be difficult for the marker to award you full marks as you have not addressed the directive term. Use this link to access NESA’s Glossary of Key Terms: https://educationstandards.nsw.edu.au/wps/portal/nesa/11-12/hsc/hsc-student-guide/glossary-keywords


6. Summaries.

Every afternoon, not just for Economics but every subject, I wrote a summary of each lesson in a separate workbook. For Economics, I kept this summary book to reinforce and consolidate the theory I had learnt during the day. From this summary book, I then made exam notes (or summaries of the summaries). These were condensed theory notes which I revised along with key facts and statistics in the lead up to exams.


7. Essay plans.

During Year 12, you have time constraints. In an ideal world, you would constantly be writing practice essays. However, with a minimum of 10 units, it is difficult to be continuously allocating 40 minute blocks to Economics essay writing. Instead, I would either:

a) Go through past Economics papers and scaffold out the essay including any diagrams, formula, key statistics and theory. (Like you would if you were to see an exam question for the first time and plan what you would include in the essay.) At the start of the year this process would take me 15-20 minutes however, by the end of the year I was able to scaffold an essay in 5 minutes.

b) Choose an essay question and, as above, allocate 5 minutes to planning, then set a timer for 20 minutes. During the 20 minutes, write out as much of your essay as possible based on the plan. This allows you to practise writing in exam conditions without allocating too much time to just one subject. This also means you have a scaffolded plan, which may also be helpful in answering other questions. I found this beneficial as I could attempt more essays whilst still allowing time for my other subjects.


8. Policies.

During my HSC I made posters for each of the economic issues. On each poster I included three policy responses. I would attempt to have one monetary policy response, one fiscal policy response and one micro policy response for each issue. This was beneficial for both short answers and essays. I also ensured any data or economic information on the poster was current and relevant (which is in the marking criteria). I found this website helpful for current fiscal policy: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-03/federal-budget-2019-sliced-and-diced-interactive/10959808#spending/breakdown/2020/social-security-and-welfare


9. Flash cards.

I found that having flash cards, with definitions and formulas, was an extremely helpful tool while studying. In Economics, it is important to know the diagrams and formulas in order to calculate multiple choice and short answer questions and to support the information written in your essays. In my HSC exam, there was an inflation calculation question in which you needed to know the formula. Once you completed the calculation question you needed to use this information to comment on the inflation rate. Not knowing the formula would have resulted in lost marks (5 marks!) in the exam. So it is really important to memorise the formulas!! 


10. Using the stimulus.

In the trials and HSC, Section 3 (or Q25-Q26) is a stimulus based question. It is essential that you respond to the stimulus provided throughout your extended response as you are being assessed on it. The marking criteria will always state “uses the information provided”. Stimulus material is also found in the short answer section so make sure you incorporate it into your answers. 


11. When responding to any question consider the following:

a) Short-term and long-term effects
b) Effects on individuals/businesses/governments and/or the wider economy
c) Positive and negative effects (NOTE: this may link to short and long-term effects)
d) Diagrams that can be used to explain the theory
e) Formula e.g AD=C+I+G+(X-M) when answering a macroeconomic question
f) Policy response examples and key statistics (use the policy responses from your economic issue posters)
g) If there is stimulus material, consider how can you refer to it multiple times throughout your response
h) What the key term/s requires of you