How to Score Good Grades in IGCSE Economics

by Beverlee Brick

    The International General Certificate of Secondary Examination is a high school equivalency program created at Cambridge University. Unlike comparable programs like the United States GED exam, the IGCSE is recognized by universities worldwide. Many schools teach using an IGCSE curriculum, with students earning course credit by passing examinations in specific subjects, such as Economics.

    The IGCSE Economics test is broken into two sections. The first section is a battery of multiple choice questions and is worth 30 percent of the overall grade. The second part requires written answers and includes one mandatory question, where students analyze a realistic economic situation. After the mandatory question, this section offers six additional analysis questions, of which the student must answer three. The second section represents the remaining 70 percent of the grade. The test takes a total of three hours -- 45 minutes for section one and two hours 15 minutes for section two. The questions in the exam are designed to test three assessment objectives.

    Approximately 40 to 50 percent of section one and 15 to 25 percent of section two test a student's recognition and understanding of economic facts, definitions, concepts, principles and theories, as well as key economic vocabulary and terminology. To build this base of knowledge, students should use online study guides -- including several lists of all vocabulary terms used in the IGCSE -- and test knowledge of the definitions and how those terms interact with one another. Flash cards, or computer applications that mimic flash cards, are a particularly good tool for this kind of study.

    The remainder of section one and 30 to 40 percent of section two test how well a student can analyze data in light of economic theories. These questions test their ability to select, organize and interpret data found in text, diagrams, graphs and calculations and to find patterns and relationships in that data. Preparing for this section begins with reviewing examples in your textbook and online resources, using practice tests to check your understanding and reading similar analyses in financial journals or online articles.

    Forty to 50 percent of the second IGCSE Economics section tests the student's capacity to apply higher-order thinking skills to economic information. The questions ask a student to distinguish between evidence and opinion, evaluate data, project social and environmental implications of specific economic decisions, and communicate those analyses concisely. This is the softest skill assessed by the test, difficult to encapsulate in a simple resource or study guide. Writing answers to practice questions for analysis by a qualified teacher is the strongest way to improve your score in this area. If that's not an option, consider watching news programs or debates where the participants demonstrate the thinking and communication skills assessed in the IGCSE.

    The IGCSE Economics test covers eight topic themes over both sections while testing their three assessment objectives. These topics are basic economic problems; allocation of resources; the role of the individual, producers and employers; the role of government, economic indicators, developed versus developing economies and international aspects. Each theme includes several subtopics spelled out by the Cambridge curriculum. Preparing for these themes means understanding each subtopic -- found in numerous study guides throughout the web -- and practicing how to apply those topics to the assessment objectives of the exam.

    The Cambridge IGSE Economics exam guide offers several suggestions for getting good grades on the exam. Although many boil down to general test-taking advice like reading questions carefully and tracking your time, some specifically address this exam. The guide suggests using an accurate, correctly labeled diagram in the written questions to help express your ideas, and us ing appropriate, specific economic examples whenever relevant.

    About the Author

    Beverlee Brick began writing professionally in 2009, contributing to various websites. Prior to this, she wrote curriculum and business papers in four different languages. As a martial arts and group fitness instructor, she has taught exercise classes in North America, Europe and Asia. She holds master's degrees in French literature and education.

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