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What Is A-Level Economics?

Economics studies the: 

  • Production
  • Distribution
  • and consumption of goods and services. 

A-Level Economics examines the two main branches of Economics: macroeconomics and microeconomics. 

Taking Economics at A-Level will help prepare you for university-level Economics, and if that’s your aim then check out our best UK universities for economics. Depending on your A-Level subject combination, A-Level Economics can also lead you to university degrees such as:

  • Computer Science
  • Statistics
  • Business Management
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Mathematics

What Is Taught In Economics A-Level?

There are 2 essential topics of Economics A-Level. Of course, it’s reasonable to expect variations depending on the school you’ll attend. But here are the topics in general:

  • How Markets Operate and Fail (microeconomics)
  • Economy From the National and International Perspective (macroeconomics)

How Markets Operate and Fail

Market operation is part of microeconomics. What’s microeconomics? It’s the study of individual decisions which predict market changes.

Here are some of the topics you’ll study on how markets operate and fail:

Economic Methodology

  • What is Economics as a social science?
  • What’s the purpose of Economic activity?
  • How do Economists classify resources? (e.g. labour, land, capital)
  • What is scarcity? And why is it the fundamental problem of Economics?
  • What are the Production Possibility Diagrams? (e.g. opportunity cost, resource allocation)

Economic Decision-Making on the Individual Level

  • How does the consumer behave based on incentives and utility?
  • What is the importance of information in decision-making?
  • What are the biases in decision-making?
  • How do choice architecture and framing influence decision-making?

What Determines Price in a Competitive Market? 

  • How do price and quantity affect each other?
  • Calculate price based on elasticities of demand
  • What causes shifts in the supply curve?
  • Calculate price based on elasticities of supply
  • How does the relationship between supply and demand affect equilibrium prices?
  • How do the changes in one market affect the other?

Production, Revenue, and Costs

  • What is the definition of production and productivity?
  • Why is specialisation important in the exchange of goods and services?
  • What is the law of diminishing returns?
  • How do you calculate costs?
  • What do the diseconomies of scale mean?
  • How do you calculate the revenue?
  • What is profit?
  • What is the difference between innovation and invention?

Competition, Competitive Markets, and Monopoly

  • Examine the spectrum between perfect competition and complete monopoly
  • What is the range of firm objectives?
  • How do you define “perfect competition?”
  • What defines monopolistic competition?
  • How is Oligopoly characterised?
  • What influences monopoly power?
  • What is price discrimination?
  • The short-term and long-term benefits of competition
  • How does market contestability affect industry performance?
  • What differentiates static efficiency from dynamic efficiency?
  • What is the concept of surplus?

Labour Market

  • Where is the demand for a factor derived from?
  • Monetary and non-monetary considerations that influence labour supply 
  • What factors influence wage determination in a perfectly competitive market?
  • How is wage determined in imperfectly competitive markets?
  • How do trade unions influence wages?
  • What is the effect of the national minimum wage on the market?
  • What is wage discrimination?

Income and Wealth Distribution

  • What is the difference between wealth and income?
  • What causes poverty?
  • How do government policies alleviate poverty?

Government Market Intervention and Market Mechanism

  • How do economic incentives influence the production and distribution of goods and services?
  • When does market failure happen?
  • What characterises public goods vs private goods?
  • How does the absence of property rights cause externalities?
  • Merit vs Demerit goods
  • Why does monopoly lead to market failure?
  • What are the principles of competition policy?
  • Should markets be regulated?
  • How does government intervention affect the market?
  • Will government intervention always lead to the improvement of economic welfare?

Economy From the National and International Perspective

To look at the Economy from the National and International Perspective is called “macroeconomics.” Macroeconomics is concerned with Economic factors at large such as taxes and national productivity. 

Check out the topics you’ll learn in macroeconomics:

How to Measure Macroeconomic Performance

  • What are some of the main objectives of government macroeconomic policy?
  • Macroeconomic indicators are used to measure economic performance.
  • How should one calculate and interpret index numbers? 
  • When should you use national income data?

How Does the Macroeconomy Work?

  • What is the circular flow of income?
  • How do you use Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply to explain macroeconomic problems?
  • What is the difference between investment and saving?
  • What is the role of Aggregate demand in influencing Economic activity?
  • How do cost changes shift the Aggregate Supply curve?
  • What does the long-run Aggregate Supply curve represent? 

Economic Performance

  • How does growth impact the economy?
  • What are the UK measures of unemployment?
  • Definition of inflation vs deflation
  • How do you try to reconcile policy conflicts?

Monetary Policy & Financial Markets

  • Debt vs Equity
  • How do banks create credit?
  • What’s a central bank, and what is its primary function?
  • How are financial systems regulated in the UK?
  • Direct vs Indirect Taxes
  • What is Fiscal Policy, and how does it work?
  • How do supply-side policies affect unemployment?

International Economy

  • What are the causes of globalisation?
  • What is the function of the World Trade Organisation?
  • How do corrective actions of major economies affect the global economy at large?
  • What factors determine exchange rate systems?
  • Growth vs Development

There you have it! You now have a glimpse of what Economics at A-Level is like. Do the topics pique your interest?

Is Economics A-Level A Lot of Maths?

No. Although maths is essential to understanding economics, the vast majority of economics a-level involves concepts rather than equations.

Hence, Economics contains some Maths. But not a whole lot.

Is Economics A Hard A-Level? 

Yes, Economics A Level is hard. At least it’s harder to get an A* in Economics than it is to get the same grade in Mathematics. 22.8% achieved an A* in A-Level Mathematics, whereas only 13.5% got an A* in Economics – a 9.3% difference!

So, in general, if you find Maths hard, then there’s a great possibility you may find Economics harder. What could be the reason behind this?

For one, because Maths is number-focussed. You will need to understand equations and how they work. And that’s mostly it. 

But with Economics, there are Maths and Economics concepts. You’d have to understand human behaviour and how that translates to individual choices within the marketplace.

Then you have to zoom out and figure out how individual choices affect and are affected by much larger concepts in play (e.g. government.) 

Hence, why Economics is a hard A-Level. At least harder to nail the A* than in Mathematics!

How Do You Get an A* in A-Level Economics?

Getting an A* in A-Level Economics requires practice, consistency, and curiosity. Here are some tips to help you succeed in A-Level Economics:

1. Set a consistent study schedule

Economics is concept heavy. You’ll need a consistent study routine to slowly digest each of these concepts. To test your knowledge, go to the table of contents of your textbook and topic outline. Can you define each topic? 

In a previous section of this post, we mentioned that you’ll encounter topics such as:

  • Competitive Market
  • Monopoly
  • Market Intervention
  • Microeconomy
  • Macroeconomy
  • Monetary Policy

If an essay question comes along that goes like this “Define X,” with “X” as the topic, will you be able to answer it in full? And even go so far as to give a real scenario where the concept comes into play? 

Spend time each day to write definitions of important concepts. 

2. Practice Economics questions

As the old adage goes, “Practice makes perfect.” The more you practice answering economics questions, the better your answers become. Leading to an increase in your confidence.

Questions can range from multiple-choice and problem-solving to essay questions. Acquiring past papers will give you a valuable supply of questions to work with.

Why? Because you’ll also have the opportunity to assess how the student answered said questions. And what feedback the professor gave them. As you go through past papers, you’ll get a precise idea of what types of answers work and what doesn’t.

Do you want to explore more questions? You’ll find several in textbooks and online sources. 

3. Read Real-World Scenarios

Going through A-Level Economics will expose you to a plethora of essay questions. And how well you’re graded depends on how well you support your answers with facts and real-life situations. 

For instance, if you’re asked, “Does Government intervention alleviate poverty?” If you answer “mostly yes,” it’s not enough to state your “yes” and then add a reason or two. 

Since you’re aiming for an A*, you’ll have to support your “mostly yes” with logical reasons plus a real-life situation or two. Proving that government intervention does alleviate poverty most of the time.

Then, continue with “but, there are times when government intervention failed to alleviate poverty due to….” Go ahead and mention what factors cause failure, then cite events demonstrating these factors at play. 

Do you see why you should decide your answer seriously? Saying “mostly yes,” without justifying the modifier “mostly” will result in an essay lacking proper support. 

What is the secret ingredient to writing bullet-proof essays? Real-world scenarios. So load yourself up with them! Read, read, and keep reading!

4. Ask For Feedback

So you’ve practised answering questions. But how do you know if you did well? What improvements need to happen for you to nail that A*?

The key is to ask for feedback. Go and politely request an evaluation session with your Economics teacher. Or you may have a tutor who you can approach.

If neither of these is available, why not ask some top-performing students in your Economics class? Doing so will help you see your blind spots. Giving you a clear direction on where you should improve.

Is Economics A-Level Useful?

Economics A-Level is useful because of its several benefits, including:

  • It can help prepare you for a career in Economics, Marketing, and Finance.
  • Pursuing Economics at the university will open many career opportunities. Read more about career paths for economics degrees.  
  • Thinking of starting a business? Economics will help you get a good grounding on demand and supply principles. 
  • If you’re thinking of investing, Economic principles can help you make better decisions with minimal risk. 
  • You can better manage your finances when you understand Economics. 

What Skills Will You Get From Studying A-Level Economics?

Studying A-Level Economics will help you develop a solid skillset. Here are some of them:

  • Problem-solving
  • Numerical skills
  • Clear and compelling verbal and written communication
  • Critical Analysis
  • Time Management

What Careers Can the Study of Economics Lead To?

Finishing Economics at university can lead you to a variety of careers, including:

  • Economist
  • Economic Researcher
  • Accountant
  • Financial Planner
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial Risk Analyst
  • Investment Analyst
  • Actuary
  • Statistician
  • Business Management
  • Human Resource 

What do you learn in Economics A-Level? You’ll examine the two main branches of Economics: microeconomics and macroeconomics. 

The TL;DR of it all is that microeconomics looks into individual decisions and how they affect the market. In comparison, macroeconomics studies Economics from national and international standpoints.

Do these Economics A-Level topics excite you? If so, we wish you luck in your pursuit of Economics!

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