Exam Technique Advice

Department of Awesome Evaluation (Updated: June 2018)

Level:
AS, A Level, IB
Board:
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 4 Jun 2018

Here are some examples of great evaluation phrases to use in Economics essays. And we've added two or three great short videos on using excellent evaluation phrases in your economics papers.

In theory but in practice

In theory invites a student to use some analysis to explain how a government intervention might work or perhaps how a change in one economic variable can affect another. In practice invites challenging the standard theory by bringing into the answer some real world examples. 

Here is a brief example relating to the economic impact of quantitative easing by central banks

Examine the impact of quantitative easing on the UK economy

In theory quantitative easing by central banks leads to an increase in the liquidity of commercial banks and will eventually cause an increase in lending to businesses which will help stimulate aggregate demand. But in practice, QE has done little to cause an increase in bank lending to businesses, many commercial banks have become more risk averse and charge higher interest rates to business customers.

Here is another example relating to government intervention in markets to improve food affordability.

Evaluate the micro and macro policies a government might use to make food more affordable to lower income groups.

Although in theory farm subsidies might be effective in making food more affordable, in practice we often find that subsidies distort the working of the price mechanism leading to a loss of allocative efficiency. Food growers may become overly-dependent on subsidies and the absence of competition can lead to production inefficiencies and lower productivity. Well-intentioned subsidies might result in both government failure including unintended consequences. For example, food subsidies are frequently expensive and can lead to over-production and rising levels of waste

Judge arguments on a case-by-case basis

I really like this evaluation approach. For example, when discussing the economic arguments for and against state ownership in industries such as the railways, telecoms, mail services, energy and water, many of the standard arguments can be applied to any essay. But often there are differences specific to one sector that might not apply to another. Rather than coming to a generalised and firm conclusion, adopting a more nuanced approach can improve the quality of evaluation. 

Here is a brief example:

Assess the case for nationalizing train operating companies on the UK rail network

It is important to judge the arguments for nationalisation on a case by case basis. The heavily-criticised Southern Rail provides a strong argument for nationalising parts of the UK train network. But other franchises such as Chiltern Railways have been more successful in meeting performance targets and making profits that flow to shareholders and the Government. 

There is a lot of uncertainty about the likely effect of

Uncertainty is part of parcel of studying a social science, we can never predict just how a policy will change the choices and behaviours of economic agents. So introducing some uncertainty into your evaluation again strengthens the quality of an argument. 

Here is another example drawn from the essay on quantitative easing

Examine the impact of quantitative easing on the UK economy

Have younger people suffered as a result of nearly a decade of quantitative easing? There is a lot of uncertainty about this. On the one hand, QE helped to avoid a deflationary depression and probably kept unemployment rates from rising well above 10 percent of the labour force. We know that younger people are often most vulnerable to rising unemployment and this can affect their lifetime incomes. That said QE has contributed to a surge in share prices and property values and the latter has worsened housing affordability for many young people and also contributed to increase in rents which has worsened the geographical immobility of labour. The over 45s hold 80 percent of all of the wealth in the UK.

Strong Evaluation - It Depends On
Exam Technique - Useful Evaluation Phrases!
Evaluating government intervention

© 2002-2022 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.