Exam technique advice

How to Get a Top Grade in A Level Economics - 12 Top Teacher Tips for Success

  • Levels: A Level, IB
  • Exam boards: AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Recently, we asked hundreds of experience Economics teachers and examiners to reflect on what A and A* students do that makes their answers stand out and score so highly.

Here is a selection of their thoughts – 12 tips that together provide advice as your get stuck into your exam preparations.

We’ve also added some links to great resources to help you along the way!

How to Get a Top Grade in A Level Economics - 12 Top Teacher Tips for Success

TIP 1

“Top students talk and write confidently about how the economic theory they are learning relates to the real world.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

  • Top students always use examples!
  • Examples is an important way to support your arguments in longer answers, both for analysis and evaluation.
  • You don’t necessarily need loads of data but having that extra context to hand as part of your revision notes can make a big difference.
  • Check out our daily blog where we link to issues in the news and have a weekly quiz for students.

TIP 2

“Show a genuine interest in the subject added to consistent hard work.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

Always be on the look out for articles, tweets, TV news pieces that give you contextual examples to add to your class notes. Revision at A-level is a marathon not a sprint!

TIP 3

"Spend time studying current developments in economics that are relevant to your specification. This not only enriches your understanding of key concepts but will enable you to refer to an industry or a firm of your choice if asked in an essay.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

  • It is important for students to make connections between different topics, and especially between the macro and micro aspects of the course for the synoptic paper.
  • We really like the Deloitte Monday Briefing written by Ian Stewart – a superb, concise resource which covers some important ground.

Quantitative skills form an important part of your final mark at A level. tutor2u’s calculation practice for AQA & Edexcel are a fantastic revision aid for all students wanting to give themselves an advantage in the exams.

tutor2u calculation practice books

TIP 4

“I’d say that it is their thirst to delve deeper and always question, question question - as well as really solid knowledge.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

  • Evaluation is a skill you can develop by doing as many essay plans / practice questions as you can. Download past paper mark schemes and examiner report for ideas.
  • At A-level, examiners are looking for depth rather than breadth. An exam question might say “using an industry” or “using a country of your choice” That is a clear command and you are strongly advised to become a mini expert on a few industries and countries that really interest you!

TIP 5

“Consistency in fully understanding the specific demands of the question.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

  • Be clear what command words in an exam question require! For example, the command word “examine” means that you must analyse and evaluate!
  • Your evaluation should immediately follow your analytical point, and not be left until the end of the essay

TIP 6

“Well structured, concise and well articulated which ultimately answers the question with everything you would have considered, sometimes more!”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

  • Students who read, watch and listen more, have extra to say! This is helpful in the final reasoned judgements at the end which are key to getting top marks for evaluation.
  • We really like the Economics in Ten Podcast Series – great for subject enrichment!

TIP 7

“They know how to manipulate and develop a diagram to help them answer the question!”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

  • Economics diagrams feature throughout all of your exam papers. Evaluation questions may specifically ask you to draw them and adapt them to a scenario.
  • Don’t just draw a basic diagram – look to develop it!
  • When you include a diagram in an economics answer, it is important that you also write about it.
  • Unless you do this, you are likely to only be awarded AO1 (knowledge) marks for your diagram.
  • Writing about your diagram usually allows you to be awarded AO3 (analysis) marks as well.

tutor2u’s Diagram Practice Books for AQA & Edexcel are a fantastic revision aid for all students wanting to give themselves an advantage in the exams.

TIP 8

“Being consistent throughout each paper - no slip ups! The shorter mark questions are just as important.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

Please, please, please do not over-write on the shorter questions. Often, they require ashort, focused, accurate answer (showing workings) rather than long paragraphs.

TIP 9

“Consistent well organised economics with clear chains of reasoning and a clear judgement that answers the question for 25 markers.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

Exam reports are clear! For high analysis marks, you will need to practice writing answers with clear analytical chains of reasoning using relevant economic concepts.

TIP 10

“Don't forget to relate your answer to the real world - either making use of the information provided in the figures and extracts or your own knowledge.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

Many of the application marks in data response questions go un-awarded because students are not drawing from & using the data charts, tables and extracts provided.

TIP 11

“They should be able to evaluate using different political and theoretical perspectives.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

Being aware of different schools of thought in Economics adds to your understanding of the subject and is very useful for top grades!

TIP 12

“They need to make it their mission to be economics experts. Deploy economics to thoroughly analyse either given extracts or their own examples garnered through constant reading about contemporary issues and historical data/events. This is compared to off-hand mentions of examples in mainly theoretical explanations. Finally, they should feel empowered to make judgments about the extent, impact and relative importance of issues.”

Thoughts from tutor2u:

We feel this is one of the best overviews of advice for students who are aiming for the high grades this summer! Become an economics expert! Make reasoned judgements.

Don’t forget that there are tutor2u Economics exam workshops coming up soon – designed to help every student wanting to maximise their performance in exams. Work hard, study smart and good luck!

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