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A Complete Guide to IB Economics (HL & SL) in Singapore by Our Top IB Economics Tutors

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The Complete Guide to IB Economics (HL/SL) in Singapore

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is a rigorous two-year course that aims to develop students that are inquiring, knowledgeable and compassionate. As a course that encourages students to develop open-mindedness and cultural sensitivity, the IB Curriculum involves the study of a wide range of subjects designed to educate students in a well-rounded and holistic fashion. During the IBDP course, students are to study 6 subjects, one from each academic area, also known as a subject group. They are also required to study the central core elements of the IB programme that include Theory of Knowledge, as well as the Extended Essay (EE).

Having to study such a wide range of subjects means that the IB curriculum is extremely rigorous, and could be a potential source of worry for your or your child. Fret not, as our team at MindFlex has put together this guide to help your to ace your IB Economics, together with some tips to do well and resources to aid in your revision!

1. An Overview to IB Economics

IBDP students are required to study one subject from each of the 6 subject groups. IB Economics falls under Group 3, which is the academic area that involves the study of Individuals and Societies. The subject teaches IB Economics students about how economic activities are often interdependent, and also encourages them to understand the various complexities of our economic landscape. Doing well in IB Economics is important not only for students to hone their critical thinking and reasoning skills, but to also develop their knowledge and understanding of world issues which is important as members of the globalised world.

The IBDP Curriculum involves multiple components where students are regularly assessed throughout the curriculum via Internal and External Assessments. As such, it is of utmost importance that IB Economics students are consistent in their learning and revision of the IB Economics content throughout the duration of the course. In addition, they have to build an in-depth understanding of key Economic concepts such as Scarcity, Choice, Efficiency and Equity.

To build a strong foundation of the various Economic concepts, it is imperative that students have sufficient time, practice and resources in order to seal in their understanding of the Economic concepts and principles. At MindFlex, we have a large pool of over 6,000 experienced IB Economics tutors. Whether you are looking forPart-Time Undergraduate Tutors to Highly Experienced Ex-MOE teachers, MindFlex will be able to suit your preferences and help you or your child score in IB Economics. Request for an IB Economics tutor here!

2. Difference between SL (Standard Level) and HL (Higher Level) in IB Economics

Like most of the subjects offered in the IB Curriculum, IB Economics can be taken at both the Standard Level (SL) or the Higher Level (HL). Let us first discuss the difference between SL and HL Economics.

First of all, HL Economics naturally would have less time devoted to teaching the content, with 240 hours as compared to the 150 hours allocated for the SL level. Secondly, HL Economics encompasses a greater depth and a wider scope of knowledge that students are required to learn. The final difference between HL and SL Economics is that HL students are required by the curriculum to develop more advanced quantitative skills which are tested in Paper 3, which SL students need not sit for.

3. Objectives of IB Economics

The primary objective of the IB Economics course is to give students knowledge of Mathematical facts and concepts, and inculcate in twenty-first century problem-solving and reasoning skills.

The following Assessment Objectives are aimed towards encouraging students to hone these skills.

1. Knowledge and understanding
IB Economics Students should be able to be knowledgeable of current Economic issues and data. In addition, HL students are expected to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the HL extension topics.

2. Application and Analysis
On top of knowing Economic theories and concepts, IB Economics students are also expected to know how to apply their existing knowledge to real-life Economic situations and contexts. Moreover, they have to be able to accurately interpret and analyse Economic data, and identify links between Economic concepts and Economic commentaries.

3. Synthesis and Evaluation
IB Economics students should be able to accurately and systematically examine various Economic theories and concepts. Moreover, they have to be able to accurately utilise these theories and concepts to craft a coherent argument, as well as evaluate and discuss information. In addition, HL students are required to have skills such as Economic Synthesis, and should also be able to make policy recommendations.

4. Use and Application of Skills
IB Economics students should be able to craft well-structured arguments using the correct Economic terminology, principles and concepts. They should also be comfortable making use of the appropriate diagrams to support their arguments. When given a set of news media or data, students should demonstrate an ability to pick out and analyse extracts from it, and use the appropriate data and evidence to analyse Economic relationships.

4. IB Economics Exam Format

The IB Economics (AA) assessment comprises both Internal Assessments and External Assessments. The Internal Assessment, making up 80% of the total grade, includes Paper 1 (Short-response questions), Paper 2 (Extended-response questions) and Paper 3 (Extended-response questions, for HL Economics students only). The External Assessment, which makes up 20% of the total grade, involves Mathematical Exploration. In terms of assessment components, the IB Economics assessment differs from SL to HL, as shown below.

IB Economics Infographic

Here’s an overview of the SL and HL Economics Exam Format.

4.1. Standard Level (SL)

External Assessment (3 hours, 70%)

Paper 1 (1 hour 15 minutes, 30%):

Extended response (25 marks)
Students are to choose one question out of three to answer.

Paper 2 (1 hour 45 minutes, 40%): 

Data response (40 marks)

Includes quantitative questions.

Students are to choose one question out of two to answer. 

Internal Assessment (45 marks, 30%)

This component is first internally assessed by the teacher and then externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.

Students are to write three commentaries, based on different units of the syllabus and on extracts from the news media. For all three commentaries, each of them should use a different key concept as a means to analyse the extracts. Students have to keep within the maximum word count of 800 words for each commentary.

4.2. Higher Level (HL)

External Assessment (4 hours 45 minutes, 80%)

Paper 1 (1 hour 15 minutes, 20%):

Extended response (25 marks)

Students are to choose one question out of three to answer. (25 marks)

Paper 2 (1 hour 45 minutes, 30%): 

Data response (40 marks)

Includes quantitative questions.

Students are to choose one question out of two to answer. (40 marks)

Paper 3 (1 hour 45 minutes, 30%) 

A policy paper

Includes both qualitative and quantitative questions.

There are two questions, and students are to answer both of them. (60 marks, 30 marks per question)

Internal Assessment (45 marks, 20%)

This component is first internally assessed by the teacher and then externally moderated by the IB at the end of the course.

Students are to write three commentaries, based on different units of the syllabus and on extracts from the news media. For all three commentaries, each of them should use a different key concept as a means to analyse the extracts. Students have to keep within the maximum word count of  800 words for each commentary.

More information can be found under the IB Syllabus.

5. Challenges Faced in IB Economics

5.1. Difficulty Digesting Large Amounts of Content Knowledge

IB Economics students are expected to learn a huge volume of Economics theories, principles and knowledge in the short span of less than 2 years. From Market Failure to Elasticity Concepts to Macroeconomic concepts, the sheer volume of content that students are expected to learn can be overwhelming on its own. Moreover, students have 5 other subjects to learn in addition to Economics, on top of the Extended Essay (EE), Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course and making sure they fulfil their Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) hours. As such, this could leave IB Economics students extremely overwhelmed and lagging behind in their IB Economics content.

5.2. Being Unable to Apply Content Knowledge to Real-World Contexts

If students are already knowledgeable and well-versed in the IB Economics content, the next challenge that they may face is that they may not know how to apply the various Economic concepts, theories and principles to the IB Examination questions. This is a skill that is especially important to have, given that most Economics questions involve real-world Economic situations such as the Brexit situation.

If students are unable to apply their vast amounts of content to the IB Economics questions that they encounter in exams, their content knowledge would unfortunately go to waste as they would be penalised for incorrectly applying the content.

5.3. Insufficient Time to Complete the Paper Due to Poor Time Management

Oftentimes, IB Economics students may find themselves struggling to complete the paper due to being lacking in time management skills, and insufficient exposure to examination questions. As such, even if students are able to answer questions well, if they do not have sufficient time to do so, they would still end up not scoring in the examinations.

To improve students’ time management skills, MindFlex strongly recommends that IB Economics students complete their practice papers simulated examination conditions with time constraints to hone their time management skills and familiarise themselves with the stress of completing a paper under examination conditions.

5.4. Lack of Adequate Resources To Revise

Since the IBDP is a less common course to take here in Singapore compared to the A Levels, there are not many resources available for IB Economics students. In fact, there are only a few credible IB Economics assessment books that are in line with the IB syllabus, meaning that students may not have sufficient guidance. Moreover, in comparison to A Level students who have the Ten Year Series (TYS) to practise on, IB students may feel that there are not enough past IB Economics examination papers available for them. As a result, students may not be able to sit for their various Internal and External Assessments with 100% confidence, which could be potentially detrimental to their IB Economics results.

6. IB Economics Tips and Resources

With the huge amount of challenges listed above, the IB Economics curriculum definitely seems daunting. To make things easier for students, we have compiled a list of tips and resources to help students achieve their desired 7 points for IB Economics!

6.1. IB Economics Tips

1. Stay Consistent and On Task

With the amount of content required under the IB Economics syllabus, it can get overwhelming if students leave everything till the months leading up to the IB final examination. Hence, it will be much more beneficial if students stay on task, right from the start of the academic year. This includes paying attention during lessons, keeping up with the work assigned, setting aside time to revise and consolidate the learning. Students will be amazed how much less stressful it’d be if they commit to this consistency!

In addition, another tip for staying consistent is by clearing doubts and misconceptions as they surface, and not right before a major examination. With doubts, it can become dangerous if they snowball and cause major lapses in content knowledge. Hence, MindFlex recommends clearing any misconceptions as promptly as possible – preferably after each lesson! This way, students will have a clearer view of the concepts and content learnt.

2. Create a Study Plan

Under the IB syllabus, students are required to take a large amount of subjects which are all extremely content heavy. Hence, it can definitely be helpful if students could create, and stick to a study plan. With a study schedule, students should also take note to ensure that it is both realistic and possible – it is definitely not feasible to plan a schedule with 12 hours of study time and only 2 hours of free time. Similarly, it is also definitely not sustainable to plan a schedule that allocates only 1 hour of study time a day. In addition, a study plan should also consist of concrete plans and actions. For example, students should not just write down “Study econs” in their schedule; rather, it can be broken down into smaller and more attainable goals such as “Study 1 chapter of economics”, “Do 5 data response questions” etc.

3. Get Sufficient Practice

Under both SL and HL Economics, students are expected to be fluent in different forms of questions and answering techniques – such as Extended Responses, Case Studies and Policy Papers, all requiring different answering techniques and skills. Hence, it will be extremely beneficial if students are able to practise extensively in order to familiarise themselves with the different question types. MindFlex recommends that students set aside time every week for topical revision and practice – this way, with enough discipline, students will be able to get a lot of exposure and practice by the end of the IB curriculum!

4. Read Model Essays

Another easy yet useful tip for IB Economics is to read up on model essays! This can be in the form of past years papers’ answer schemes, school-provided notes or even notes from external sources such as IB Economics Tutors. An issue faced by most IB Economics students is the inability to find areas of improvement in their essay writing. The feedback provided by teachers and tutors may also be vague, leaving students clueless as to how to improve.

Reading up on model essays, however, serves as an easy way to improve! By comparing their essays with the model answers, students will easily be able to identify lapses in answering styles and the content included. These model essays also tend to contain relevant real-world examples and evaluation points which are extremely useful for students as they can sieve out these useful examples and points and use it in their own essays in the future.

However, we understand how limited students can be in their resources for model essays! The amount of model essays provided by schools might be extremely little, and if students do not have any seniors or external sources, they might not be able to get their hands on additional resources. Here at MindFlex, our IB Economics Home Tutors have a wide range of IB Economics resources, notes and definitely model essays – which can be extremely beneficial for students! Apply for a free tutor request at MindFlex today!

6.2. IB Economics Resources

Here, we have compiled our top 7 resources for your child to aid him/her in their IB Economics preparation.

1. International Baccalaureate (IB) Economics Guide and Workbook

This book is fit for IB Economics students as it is specially written to have the truest alignment to the latest IBDP Economics Syllabus. In addition, it contains comprehensive notes with explanations, together with short-answer questions for easy revision, allowing it to double up as a useful workbook for extra practice.

IB Economics Guidebook

This useful IB Economics guidebook doubles up as a workbook, perfect for extra revision and practice

2. IB Diploma Economics Course Companion

This useful resource, developed in cooperation with the IB is a bestselling coursebook with revised and updated content in support of the new IB Economics syllabus. It contains a complete coverage of the syllabus, together with in-depth real-world case studies with higher order thinking skills in order to help students relate economic theory to practice. All key concepts are explained thoroughly, making it an extremely useful resource for all IB Economics students.

IB Economics Course Companion

This book is a valuable addition, perfect for IB Economics students who are struggling with grasping the concepts

3. IB Economics Paper 3: Practice Questions With Detailed Answers

Written by an experienced and qualified Economics Tutor in Singapore, this guidebook serves as an essential practice book filled with questions directly targeted towards the IB Economics syllabus. Together with detailed and step-by-step answers and worked solutions, IB Economics Paper 3 serves as a valuable repository for all IB Economics students.

IB Economics Paper 3 Assessment Book

This assessment book provides IB Economics students with the much needed essential practices

4. IB Development Economics Study Guide With Model Answers

Written by the same Economics tutor as the aforementioned book, this study guide is another useful resource that students should definitely not miss out on. Filled with a plethora of key concepts, summary sheets and model answers, this book is definitely a valuable resource for IB Economics students before any examination.

In addition, while we’ve only featured 2 of Mr Kelvin Hong’s Economics books, he has published numerous useful resources that are available for purchase on his website, TheEconomicsTutor.

IB Development Economics Study Guide

This IB Economics study guide contains a large repository of key concepts and summaries.

5. IB Economics Tuition

Another extremely useful resource that will definitely come in handy is IB Economics Tuition! Getting external help can be extremely useful as these tutors are able to better tackle the student’s weaknesses in IB Economics, and help to improve their knowledge and understanding in the subject. While it may be hard to shortlist a list of IB Economics Tuition Centres to choose from due to budget and quality constraints, MindFlex has taken the liberty to collate a list of IB Economics Tuition Centres. View our 25 Top Tuition Options for Economics Tuition in Singapore here! 

6. MindFlex IB Economics Home Tutors

We understand how taxing and hectic it can be as an IB student, especially with the inclusion of extracurricular activities that can take up a large amount of time. Traveling to and fro to tuition centres just for a 2 hour session a week might not seem feasible too. With MindFlex’s IB Economics Home Tutors, however, students will be able to study and learn at the comforts of their own homes, minus the long traveling times. MindFlex currently holds one of the largest selections of IB Economics Home Tutors and we are definitely able to cater to your budget and requirements.

Request for a MindFlex IB Economics Tutor here.

7. Conclusion

Our team at MindFlex understands that the rigorous IB Economics curriculum can be challenging for many students, whether it is taken by SL or HL students. With the immense amount of content mastery required of students, together with the critical thinking skills that students are expected to develop, it is not uncommon for IB Economics students to feel anxious. As such, students should imbibe healthy study habits and skills to cope with the curriculum.

Here at MindFlex, our Top IB Economics Tutors can help you to regularly clear your doubts and misconceptions, and help you to develop the necessary skills that are required for you to score well in IB Economics. With our Top IB Economics Tutors as well as these resources and tips provided by us, we hope that you will be able to ace your IB Economics.

Kickstart your IB Economics journey with MindFlex today!

Do also check out our other IB Related resources at these links:
IB Tuition in Singapore: 20 Top Tuition Options for IB Students (HL & SL)
IB Maths – The Complete Guide to IB Math (SL/HL) in Singapore

IB Chinese – The Complete Guide to IB Chinese (SL) in Singapore
IB Physics – The Complete Guide to IB Physics (SL/HL) in Singapore
IB English – The Complete Guide to IB English (SL/HL) in Singapore

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