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How To Write Economics Essays A Level

Want to ace the long answer questions in your A-level economics paper? Follow these simple guidelines to ensure you get full marks.

[fusion_text][fusion_text]If you would like to ensure that you get full marks in long answer economics essays in A-level exams there are a few guidelines that you should stick to and ensure that your answers contain. Although you cannot guarantee what a particular examiner will do when they are marking your exam, if you stick to a few key principles, it will be difficult for them not to give you the marks. Before I run through the main activities that you should undertake, it is worth drawing a distinction between different question types. The long answer questions in A-level papers will typically be either data response questions (questions where you are given an extract from which to draw information and to analyse) and questions that do not require data response. The main difference between these two types of questions is that data response questions will require you to incorporate information from the data that you have been given whereas questions that are not data response will typically require you to include some of your own knowledge with respect to a particular situation (know the UK base rate for instance).[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

Are you looking for information about the A-Level?

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Structure your answer in the opening paragraph

A very easy way to plan your essay is to state your opinion or answer to the question in the first sentence and then to list your reasons for you view directly afterwards. This will mean that you can refer to your opening paragraph to structure your essay.[/tagline_box][fusion_text]

Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate

You may constantly hear your economics teacher talking about evaluation despite many of them not properly explaining why you have to do this and what it means. Put bluntly, there are very few “right” answers in economics. Economics is the study of “who gets what” and as a result it is not a science that allows the determination of the right answer but more a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of sharing resources in different ways. Evaluation simply refers to providing balance in your argument. You must acknowledge the alternative views of any particular argument that you are making. For instance, if you believe that in order to tackle inflation, a central bank should increase interest rates you should also address the negative consequences of this action, even if you believe it to be correct.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]

Use graphical representations of concepts to back up your points

Economists liberally uses relatively simple graphs to explain relationships that they believe to exist. Most of the basic concepts that you are expected to learn in A-level economics have simple graphs that can be used to demonstrate these concepts. Draw out all of these graphs into your notes and become familiar with when they should be drawn to illustrate a point that you are making.[/fusion_text][tagline_box backgroundcolor=”” shadow=”no” shadowopacity=”0.7″ border=”1px” bordercolor=”” highlightposition=”left” content_alignment=”left” link=”” linktarget=”_self” modal=”” button_size=”” button_shape=”” button_type=”” buttoncolor=”” button=”” title=”” description=”” margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”20″ animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””]

Plan to finish your essay within 90% of the time allocated to the question

It is easy to write long, waffling essays in economics and it is even easier to not finish an essay due to running out of time. When you perform practice exams, you should set yourself time limits to write your essays and stick to them. If you can get into the habit of being able to complete your essays within the time allocated to you, you will not only be able to review your answer and add supplementary information if required but you will also avoid not completing your essay.[/tagline_box][fusion_text]

Do you need an Economics tutor?

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Do every past paper that you can find for your exam board

A slightly depressing notion when it comes to revising is that gong through past papers really does work. It is depressing as this is a long-winded and boring way of revising. It does however get the job done! Find your exam boards website and then download all of the available past papers and mark schemes for the exams that you are taking. It is worth going through all of the questions and if you really want that A*, you can prepare stock perfect essays for the questions that get asked regularly giving you a distinct chance of having the perfect essay already ready to put down when you get into the exam. Good luck![/fusion_text][fusion_text][/fusion_text]

A-LevelEconomicsIB Economics


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Lawrence is CEO of Owl. Previously, he worked in the City and trained to teach through Teach First. When he isn't running Owl, he loves triathlons.

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy the following:

Some tips for writing economics essays  Includes how to answer the question, including right diagrams and evaluation – primarily designed for A Level students.

1. Understand the question

Make sure you understand the essential point of the question. If appropriate, you could try and rephrase the question into a simpler version.

For example:

Q. Examine the macroeconomic implications of a significant fall in UK House prices, combined with a simultaneous loosening of Monetary Policy.

In plain English.

  • Discuss the effect of falling house prices on the economy
  • Discuss the effect of falling interest rates (loose monetary policy) on economy

In effect, there are two distinct parts to this question. It is a valid response, to deal with each separately, before considering both together.

It helps to keep reminding yourself of the question as you answer. Sometimes candidates start off well, but towards the end forget what the question was. Bear in mind, failure to answer the question can lead to a very low mark.

2. Write in simple sentences

For clarity of thought, it is usually best for students to write short sentences. The main thing is to avoid combining too many ideas into one sentence. If you write in short sentences, it may sound a little stilted; but it is worth remembering that there are no extra marks for a Shakespearian grasp of English. (at least in Economics Exams)

Look at this response to a question:

Q. What is the impact of higher interest rates?

Higher interest rates increase the cost of borrowing. As a result, those with mortgages will have lower disposable income. Also, consumers have less incentive to borrow and spend on credit cards. Therefore consumption will be lower. This fall in consumption will cause a fall in Aggregate Demand and therefore lead to lower economic growth. A fall in AD will also reduce inflation.

I could have combined 1 or 2 sentences together, but here I wanted to show that short sentences can aid clarity of thought. Nothing is wasted in the above example.

Simple sentences help you to focus on one thing at once, which is another important tip.

3. Answer the question

Quite frequently, when marking economic essays, you see a candidate who has a reasonable knowledge of economics, but unfortunately does not answer the question. Therefore, as a result, they can get zero for a question. It may seem harsh, but if you don’t answer the question, the examiner can’t give any marks.

At the end of each paragraph you can ask yourself; how does this paragraph answer the question? If necessary, you can write a one-sentence summary, which directly answers the question. Don’t wait until the end of the essay to realise you have answered a different question.


Discuss the impact of Euro membership on UK fiscal and monetary policy?

Most students will have revised a question on: “The benefits and costs of the Euro. Therefore, as soon as they see the Euro in the title, they put down all their notes on the benefits and costs of the Euro. However, this question is quite specific; it only wishes to know the impact on fiscal and monetary policy.


The “joke” goes, put 10 economists in a room and you will get 11 different answers. Why? you may ask. The nature of economics is that quite often there is no “right” answer. It is important that we always consider other points of view, and discuss various different, potential outcomes. This is what we mean by evaluation.


  • Depends on the state of the economy – full capacity or recession?
  • Time lags – it may take 18 months for interest rates to have an effect
  • Depends on other variables in the economy. Higher investment could be offset by fall in consumer spending.
  • The significance of factors. A fall in exports to the US is only a small proportion of UK AD. However, a recession in Europe is more significant because 50% of UK exports go to EU.
  • Consider the impact on all macroeconomic objectives. For example, higher interest rates may reduce inflation, but what about economic growth, unemployment, current account and balance of payments?
  • Consider both the supply and demand side. For example, expansionary fiscal policy can help to reduce demand-deficient unemployment, however, it will be ineffective in solving demand-side unemployment (e.g. structural unemployment)

Example question:

The effect of raising interest rates will reduce consumer spending.

  • However, if confidence is high, higher interest rates may not actually discourage consumer spending.


If the economy is close to full capacity a rise in interest rates may reduce inflation but not reduce growth. (AD falls from AD1 to AD2)

  • However, if there is already a slowdown in the economy, rising interest rates may cause a recession. (AD3 to AD3)


1. The impact depends on elasticity of demand

In both diagrams, we place the same tax on the good, causing supply to shift to the left.

  • When demand is price inelastic, the tax causes only a small fall in demand.
  • If demand is price elastic, the tax causes a bigger percentage fall in demand.

2. Time lag

In the short term, demand for petrol is likely to be price inelastic. However, over time, consumers may find alternatives, e.g. they buy electric cars. In the short-term, investment will not increase capacity, but over time, it may help to increase a firms profitability. Time lags.

3. Depends on market structure

If markets are competitive, then we can expect prices to remain low. However, if a firm has monopoly power, then we can expect higher prices.

4. Depends on business objectives

If a firm is seeking to maximise profits, we can expect prices to rise. However, if a firm is seeking to maximise market share, it may seek to cut prices – even if it means less profit.

5. Behavioural economics

In economics, we usually assume individuals are rational and seeking to maximise their utility. However, in the real world, people are subject to bias and may not meet expectations of classical economic theory. For example, the present-bias suggest consumers will give much higher weighting to present levels of happiness and ignore future costs. This may explain over-consumption of demerit goods and under-consumption of merit goods. See: behavioural economics






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