Is A level Economics Hard?

A level Economics is a popular choice of many students since it is a highly respected A level and students studying Economics at A level and beyond have a very bright future.

My experience with Economics has been really good. Although it is a highly regarded and valuable subject; many students struggle with it. A large number find it moderately difficult and this seems to be the general consensus.

In short, A level Economics is a moderately difficult subject due to the tricky essay structure examiners require, a large and broad syllabus and the applied maths required. Once students figure out how to write an essay the way examiners want, A level Economics becomes considerably easier.

Is the subject content of A Level Economics Difficult?

As I mentioned earlier A level Economics is moderately difficult. Let me explain why this is so in more detail.

A level Economics is divided between microeconomics and macroeconomics. Students study both microeconomics and macroeconomics in each year of A level Economics, with the depth and difficulty considerably greater in the second year of A level Economics.

Macroeconomics looks at the economy holistically and focusses on the larger parts of the economy and explores the decisions of the larger corporations and the government and their effect on the economy as a whole.

Macroeconomics includes the study of GDP, unemployment rates, inflation, saving, investment, energy, international trade, and international investment.

Microeconomics focusses on how large factors affect a relatively small business or individual. Topics in microeconomics include opportunity cost, supply and demand, elasticity, market structures, labour market and pricing.

Microeconomics and Macroeconomics have several topics and concepts that overlap. This makes the subject relatively less extensive to study. However, despite the overlap, Economics is quite content-heavy.

Most of the concepts are not very challenging, are pretty self-explanatory and a bit of common sense can get you pretty far in A level Economics.

a level economics

How much Maths is involved in A Level Economics?

In short, A level Economics is tolerably math-heavy; the maths required is not more difficult than that taught at GCSE mathematics. A level Economics requires a fair number of calculations including interpreting graphs and solving word problems.

The challenging part of A level Economics is not complicated derivations and complex calculations; rather it is understanding graphs and simplifying complicated text and answering related questions accordingly.

To be able to interpret the graphs you need to understand the underlying economic concepts. Once you understand the dynamics of the graphs, the maths in Economics becomes considerably easier.

The maths is scattered in all the sections of A level Economics, whether it is the multiple-choice section, the essay segment, or the data response question.

However, if you have got a 5 or higher in GCSE mathematics, you can easily master the mathematics part of Economics.

Is A level Economics an Easy A?

A level Economics is definitely not an easy A, but you could say, it is an easy B.

Once you get the maths part of A level Economics figured out, the only other challenges are remembering and applying the relatively large syllabus and figuring out how to format and write your essay in a manner acceptable to the examiner.

A large number of students struggle with these three issues. Only those who can cover the entire syllabus, can apply mathematical concepts fairly well and know how to write essays can succeed at A level Economics.

A level Economics is a mix of science and essay writing. Getting the science part of Economics comes down to time and consistent practice. The writing section of Economics is partly natural talent and partly practice.

Hence getting an A* or A at A level Economics is reasonably difficult, getting a B grade or lower should be fairly easy.

GCSE economics

How to do well in the Essay Section of A level Economics?

The essay section of A level Economics dupes many students. Examiners don’t care much about flowery language and immaculate adjectives; rather they want you to adhere to the guidelines they have laid down in the examiner’s report and mark schemes.

Each examination board has different guidelines so I will speak about the general requirement of examiners. Examiners want students to structure their essays with an introduction, several body paragraphs and a conclusion.

The introduction should demonstrate to the examiner you understand the question of the examination correctly and briefly mention what the rest of the essay is about, to show you are on the right track.

The body of the essay should have logical chains of reasoning, including in-depth analysis of the Economics you have been taught in your specification and how it relates to the real world. You must incorporate both sides of the argument and evaluate and reason which side or policies you feel would have a greater positive/negative impact.

The conclusion should answer the question as simply as possible. You must include your opinion based on evaluation and tell how and why a certain policy would do better than the others. Apply your knowledge as best as possible, since examiners do not want to see regurgitation; rather a demonstration that you truly understand what you are talking about.

How big is the jump from GCSE to A level Economics?

The transition from GCSE Economics to A level Economics is a fairly large one. Both GCSE and A level Economics build on the basics concepts of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics but the in-depth analysis and calculations required at A level are far greater.

A-Level subjects are all about understanding the content and applying those concepts in real-world situations. Economics A level is no different. GCSE requires minimal application and regurgitation can take you pretty far. A levels ( unfortunately ) do not work that way.

A level Economics has a larger syllabus, more graphs, and a greater number of in-depth calculations and analysis is required.

A level Economics builds on the GCSE concepts. However, GCSE Economics is not a requirement to take A level Economics, although most A level colleges do recommend a 5 in both GCSE English and GCSE maths since Economics has many calculations and essays involved and basic competency in maths and English is pivotal to do well in A level Economics.

What subject combination goes really well with A level Economics?

The ideal 4 subject combination with A level Economics would be Maths, Accounts and Business Studies. These subjects have many overlapping topics and concepts. For example, supply and demand is a concept taught in both A level Economics and Business Studies.

Economics, Maths, Business Studies and Accounts all require graphs at some point or the other. Learning about graphs in one subject will greatly reduce the learning curve when graphs are taught in other subjects. Furthermore, the overlapping concepts make exam revision considerably easier.

If you really want to do 3 subjects only, then I would go with A level Maths, Economics and choose either Accounts or Business Studies. This is because maths is a facilitating subject and many universities require a good grade in maths for admission.

Adding Economics as a fourth subject for a science concentrated subject combination such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology is a good idea. Economics would allow such students to explore commerce and it would also help students understand the real world much better.

I am a strong advocate of taking at least 4 subjects up until as level, and then deciding whether you want to continue with them later on. This strategy opens up a lot of options and helps students explore more subjects and make informed decisions before they choose their subjects at university.