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Exam prep: your last minute guide to Economics

By Sergio Badilescu-Buga on 11 August 2016HSIEExam adviceHSCNSWblog

Economics is a notorious battle of an exam. So we decided to interrogate our resident nutter Kate Chiswell (ATAR 99.55 and averaging approximately 146/100 at Uni) as to her night-before routine for the Economics Trial Exam.

She went on to do honours in Economics at Sydney Uni (and now Medicine) so if there’s anyone you want on side for nailing the basics, it’s Kate:

So you’ve always been pretty organised, how did you spend the night before the Trial Exam?

Economics is one of those subjects that you have to start early to do well in.

By the time it got to the night before I had a good handle on the main concepts and cause and effect relationships in the subject. I mean, there’s simply so much content that you have to juggle with so many trends and statistics that I thought it was best to stick to some memory recalling exercises the night before.

A personal favourite was making sure I knew the stats for all my essays. So i’d draw up a table with columns for each stat, like inflation and unemployment, etc and rows for pre-GFC, GFC, post GFC and recent. Then I’d try and fill in the trend for each stat in the table. Worked pretty well to help see how everything fit together too.

How about applying material?

I always thought of it like this: an essay takes so much time to write out so there’s no point in wasting the night before writing essay after essay and then realising you only got through like 4 dot points.

You’re better off making dot point plans of the most common essay topics to make sure you aren’t missing anything major. Revising the essay content is basically revising the short answers as well, so it’s a win win situation.

Doing a few multis from different past papers helped me canvas the whole course as well. Multiple choice don’t really go into any depth, but the good thing about them is that you’ll cover a lot of definitions and formulas in a short amount of time. Plus, I always figured that getting 19/20 in the multiple choice is a lot easier than getting 19/20 in the essays - so I wasn’t only making sure I knew everything, I made sure that I was giving myself the best chance at getting those marks.

This is especially true with Economics because the way the syllabus is set up means there’s kind of a limit to the multiple choice questions that they can ask. So the more multis you do the more chance you’ll basically know the answers by heart come HSC time.

Any weird rituals?

If I got really bored of writing numbers in a table, I’d whip out a massive sheet of A3 paper and i’d draw a business cycle based on GDP and then just annotate it with all the stats and the different fiscal and monetary policy stances.

I basically just tried to tell the story of the economy over the last few years and really make sure I knew how things were and why they were that way in each time period. You need to find a way to make sure you understand the economics content rather than just remembering it because there is so much of it that memorization is nearly impossible.

If you do this you’ll find things like the transmission mechanism and relationship between the internal objectives become second nature.

To be honest Economics is annoying to prepare for because you’ve got to know so much content, but if you prepare for it in a way that suits you, you’ll always be rewarded.

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