Economics is the foundation of market understanding. Macroeconomics and microeconomics shape the market and the economy, whether it’s understanding why supply and demand change or how interest rates fluctuate in response to different policies. One of the most important aspects of learning how to study for economics is understanding how the market works as a whole, how production and consumption are linked, and how people’s behaviors change when a potential factor in equilibrium is shifted. Given the breadth of economic topics, it is difficult to provide study methods for each, but this article will share some of the fundamental transferable techniques that can be applied to the majority of economic courses.
To start off, economics is considered a social science, but there are a lot of mathematical models created to interpret different situations making it harder for many social science students. Therefore, to do well in higher-level economics courses, it is important to build a strong quantitative understanding through learning calculus and statistics. However, in most of the lower-level economics courses, the material taught will be relatively abstract and intuitive. My first-year economics professor had a famous quote called “intuition is key” for introductory economic courses. When students are first introduced to economics courses, it’s important to fully understand the concepts.
These 6 steps are recommended for students who are taking lower-level economics courses and want to do well in the introductory, abstract economics classes.
- Don’t Cram
- Memorize the Key Formulas and Concepts
- Understand the Key Concepts and the Intuition
- Read the Textbook
- Do Practice Questions and Past Tests
- Asking for Help
1. Don’t Cram When You Are Studying For Economics
Economics is difficult because knowledge builds on top of previous concepts. For example, if you are learning about supply and demand and don’t understand why the supply curve is upward sloping and the demand curve is downward sloping, you will struggle to understand and explain why changing one factor can result in movement along one curve, a shift of one curve, or even a shift of both supply and demand curves. This is due to the fact that intuition is built on top of other intuition, and concepts are layered on top of each other. Thus, cramming two nights before your economics midterm will not help you ace the test because you may not have enough time to develop a thorough understanding of each of the economics building blocks. It is critical to stay current each week and ensure to study for economics on a constant basis.
2. Memorize the Economic Formulas and Concepts
There are certain formulas that students must know in Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics, as well as many other courses. There are far fewer formulas in introductory courses than in STEM courses, but it is still important to understand things like the GDP formula, opportunity costs, and elasticity. The next step would be to understand how to use these formulas. This is where key concept memorization comes in handy.
For example, when understanding what factors result in a shift in demand, you should be able to immediately recall the factors that induce the shift. When examining GDP, you should also try to know what counts and what doesn’t count when adding variables up.
Economics isn’t hard because of the math, as it’s simple calculations, it is hard because there is a lot of qualitative content that needs to be mastered first to understand what variables should be used in the calculation.
3. Understand the Key Intuition of Economics
On a multiple-choice question, you need to know which one is the right answer, but for long answer questions, one of the most tested topics is your explanation. Students need to be able to comfortably explain in economic terms why something has happened. What I have learned through my four years of economic classes is that economics is a very meticulous subject. Using the proper jargon is key to scoring good marks because it is the more accurate way of explaining concepts.
To test well, it is important to memorize the way your professors explain certain concepts, rather than fully interpret it in plain language. Thus, when you are learning these concepts, it would be helpful to explain them to a friend in economic terms so you will get into the habit of writing in that manner during tests.
Usually, if you answer questions in a similar way as your professors’ slides and homework answer keys, you are more likely to get higher marks than someone who explains the concepts in their own words.
4. Read the Textbook
Professors usually summarize the textbook in their lecture notes, so if you find a gap in understanding, it would be best to read the textbook to learn the ideas. These are some of the commonly used textbooks students use to study for economics classes.
- Microeconomics, 13th Edition Michael Parkin
- Robert S. Pindyck, and Daniel L. Rubinfeld: Microeconomics (9th Edition),
- Krugman, Wells, Au, and Parkinson, Microeconomics, Third Canadian Edition, 2018.
5. Do Practice Questions and Past Tests
Practice questions and practice tests are essential for reinforcing your knowledge and understanding of the topics! By practicing, you will be able to gradually memorize the various conditions and formulas, and your knowledge of how to properly study for economics will increase. To be honest, economics differs greatly from previous subjects such as math, science, and social sciences because students are rarely exposed to these topics. Doing practice questions will help you think more economically.
Doing previous tests from your professor is also beneficial because you can see how you will be graded on the exam. Economics exams are frequently graded based on specific keywords that you use in your response. When you compare your answers to the professor’s answer key, you will be able to understand his logic while solving the question and also know how to get marks for answering the questions succinctly and accurately. Past tests also show you how prepared you are for the exam because they are real questions that previous students have written and completed for the course.
6. Asking for Help
When you encounter difficulties with answering practice questions, it is important to reach out to get help! For personalized and affordable support, Kunduz would be the best option for you. Kunduz is a Y Combinator-backed EdTech startup that provides homework help for 17 different subjects, including Economics within minutes. By simply uploading a picture of the question you are struggling with, you will be able to get an answer from a subject expert in 15 minutes on average. Whether it is high school economics or university economics, Kunduz’s experts will be able to provide you with the help you need to ace your course. If you have follow-up questions, you can also follow up in the chatbox for more detailed and personalized support!
Overall, we hope this article provided you with a wealth of resources and steps to help you study for economics. By following the steps outlined, you are already on your way to becoming an A-level student in economics! I wish you all the best!