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Common mistakes made in economics exams

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

and how to avoid them!

Mistakes make us stronger, as long as we learn from them! Economics questions can be tricky, particularly for A levels and GCSEs (O levels). Thankfully, you are not the first one to go for these exams and you can actually learn from mistakes other students have made before!

Here are a few common mistakes students often make in economics exams : ■ They fail to allocate writing time in an appropriate way ■ They confuse similar terms ■ They provide meaningless, wrongly drawn diagrams or diagrams that add nothing to an answer. But don't worry, here are some tips to avoid such mistakes.

1. Allocate your writing time in the examination in a meaningful way.

Roughly speaking, allocate your writing time in direct proportion to the marks available for each question as referred to earlier. ■ Do not exceed the time you have allocated for each question. ■ If you cannot do a particular question, leave it and move on to the next one. (You can always return to it later on in the examination if time permits.) You will only get marks for the questions you answer – your script, however, will always be marked out of the total marks allocated. Economics help | A level and O level (IGCSE) | Too Lazy To Study 2. Make sure that you understand the terms and keywords in the question precisely Students sometimes confuse terms that are similar (in terms of content) or that have similar names (but mean something different). Here are a few common examples.

  • elastic demand vs inelastic demand

  • allocative efficiency vs productive efficiency

  • prices vs costs

  • merit goods vs public goods

  • direct taxation vs indirect taxation

  • external costs/benefits vs social costs/benefits

Watch out also that you express formulae correctly – in particular elasticity formulae. 3. Make you understand the associated diagrams and labelling correctly before you start the question. Another common mistake that students often make is in the way in which they use diagrams in their answers.

Common errors are ■ labelling axes incorrectly or not labelling them at all ■ making diagrams too small ■ drawing lines and curves incorrectly, usually through being wrongly sloping ■ failure to use a diagram in an answer when asked for one to be included ■ including a diagram when one is not needed and where it does not enhance an answer at all. If you are not sure, opt for another question if you have the choice to.

Check out FREE economics essay examples here

I hope these tips help. Good luck with your studies!


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