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Considering Economics GCSE or A Level? Read our FAQ here watch

    • TSR Support Team
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    TSR Support Team
    Economics is a subject often associated with money and finance, but there's an awful lot more to it than that. In many ways, it's a look into how society interacts with one another when we have limited resources to use. If you're thinking about studying Econ but you're not sure about something, this thread will hopefully answer any questions you might have!

    What is the workload like?

    Economics has typically not been a subject offered by many schools at a GCSE level, and as a result, there's likely to be some variation between the workloads of different schools. Given that you would not have had any previous teaching of Economics though, the GCSE level will be taught from the ground up as if you do not know anything about Econ and as a result, the workload should not be exceptionally difficult!

    What sort of topics will I be studying?

    The links for the AQA and OCR specifications are available within this sentence! In both specifications, there are two units which fall under 'Micro' (How markets work/Introduction to Economics) and 'Macro' (How the economy works/National and International Economics) Economics.

    Put simply, the former looks at how individuals and firms interact with each other when resources are limited, whereas the latter looks at interactions on a wider scale - the national and world economies. For Micro, you'd look at who the economic agents and markets are and how they'd behave when factors like the demand and supply of something changes. For Macro, things like government spending, unemployment and other 'societal' considerations are studied.

    How is the subject assessed at GCSE?

    Both exam boards have approached the new GCSE reforms with a pure exam based approach. AQA assesses the subject with two 105 minute exams (one for each unit) that has ten multiple choice questions and five extended questions designed to test how well you can apply a variety of economic concepts to a situation. OCR also has two exams (90 minutes long), with twenty multiple choice questions and three extended questions.

    To get an idea of what would be involved, take a look at the specimen papers below but bear in mind if you don't know what the answers are that all the content would be taught to you! This is only an indication of exam structure.

    What is it useful for post-GCSE?

    Studying Econ at GCSE shows you've taken a very early interest in the subject but more importantly, means you're aware of news and current affairs (as it's most likely what led us to study the subject in the first place). The dual-emphasis on numerical and writing skills coupled with an analytical way of looking at things also gives you a very well rounded skillset going into college.

    How is it different to GCSE?

    A-Level has typically been when people get their first taste of Economics whilst studying Economics at a GCSE level is quite a recent phenomena. As such, much of the GCSE material is covered again at A-Level, but perhaps with a more comprehensive and detailed approach. You'll look into more advanced theories than you would have otherwise experienced at GCSE, but not to the extent that someone with no knowledge of Economics could not pick up the material. It remains very much approachable!

    What sort of topics will I be studying?

    Compared to GCSE, there is a far greater variety of exam boards that offer an A-Level in Economics (notably, the addition of Edexcel and WJEC). However, all follow the same Micro-Macro two unit structure that was outlined before.

    Specific Micro content common to all exam boards should include Demand and Supply, Markets and Market Equilibrium, Consumer and Producer Surplus, Economies of Scale, Elasticity of Demand and Supply, Market Failure and Government Failure in Year One. The Second year builds on these by looking in more detail into things like Market Structure,

    In terms of Macro, you can expect Economic Growth and the circular flow of income, the Balance of Payments, the Fiscal Deficit, Exchange Rates and Monetary Policy, Inflation, Unemployment, Inequality, the Euro and International Trade.

    What is the workload like?

    The workload is very moderate at A-Level. From my own experience, expect to take down a reasonable level of notes during the lessons with some worksheets to go through during the lesson and as homework. As a purely exam-based subject, you may want to consider separately working on exam technique since exams will offer little spare time when writing down your answers! It's important that you're quick and concise, but whilst this is challenging to accomplish the side effect is you're getting an extremely valuable skill at the same time!

    What is it useful for post A-Level?

    The world's your oyster! The respectability of an A-Level in Economics cannot be underestimated, as it trains both quantitative and qualitative skills and focuses on real world situations. With an essay-orientated subject, you also gain the opportunity to develop critical thinking, debating and evaluative processes that are considered higher-order levels of analysis. There's also a significant range of career paths that you can look at, be it Banking, Accounting, Management, Marketing etc. Every industry wants individuals who can analyse data, understand a process and communicate it effectively which is what this A-Level offers.
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