Top 4 Tips for Economics Offer Holders
For those of you that want to study Economics in the new academic year, here is what I wish I could go back in time and say to myself in your shoes (just as a disclaimer, some modules and aspects of the course might change next year, but these tips should still hold useful):
1. This tip applies to EC124 (statistical techniques), EC123 (Mathematical techniques), and EC109 (Microeconomics – at least for term 1). Tip one is all about how to prepare efficiently for end-of-term tests for these subjects (and end of year exams):
When coming to revise these modules and balance this with what is usually a jam-packed term 1, it is first important to know that the first-year module leaders do a fantastic job at supplying you with a lot of fuel – i.e. past papers. A lot of people will dwell on completing all in-class sheets or pre-class problem sets and don’t get me wrong, these are great. This is especially true for microeconomics, where they tend to set more difficult questions for in-class sessions; these problem sets can go a long way in consolidating your conceptual understanding. However, let’s be honest, there are going to be times when you have over-committed to society events and you are running tight for time in terms of revision, or even when you simply want to build a strong foundation before going onto the more complicated material.
I suggest you make your way through past papers e.g. the multiple-choice sets from previous year exam papers (end of term tests tend to be multiple choice, but still obviously require thorough revision). Then, when you need to, you can open your lecture notes (another great thing about Warwick Economics is that they print out all the lecture notes for you) to the relevant page and master the material as and when needed. This goes a long way towards targeted, focused revision. Moreover, going straight to the test paper forces you to actively recall information that should be in your head and if it is not there, you are going to be much more inclined to make it stick when you find the relevant lecture pages. Revision productivity is a function of time and efficiency. Ramp up the efficiency and the time will take care of itself.
2. This links to the three modules that tip one applies to and that is to create cheat sheets for more quantitative subjects. In fact, for statistical techniques, you’re allowed to take in a two-sided “cheat sheet” (i.e. a key points summary), which I always found as a great way to summarise your consolidated learning points. Moreover, when you come to final year exams, having a two page summary of the key techniques, formulas and notes that click with your thinking can be such a great time saver and can even help you prepare for wall notes, which is a great way to help lead up to exams.
3. Next comes advice for Economics History: the most interesting, but equally challenging module (at least for me). 40% of the course is made up of two essays you write before the final year exam. Two essays are not enough to make trial and error attempts with essay techniques, so you need to be sure you’re hitting the nail on the head first time. That may sound hard, but I am convinced that besides writing in a clear and concise manner and reading the materials they suggest, making the macro-scale decisions is key. By macro-decisions, I am referring to choosing the essay question that is clearest. I learned this the hard way: going for an essay question without a clear and conclusive direction can easily lead to many wasted hours and confusion that leads you to an answer the examiner wasn’t looking for. Make your life easy by going for the clearest question.
4. Finally, I found macroeconomics the hardest during first year, because it is a subject that continuously builds on prior knowledge. So if you are shaky on the first few concepts, very soon, you will lose your trail of understanding. The key piece of advice that helped me prepare for the end of term exam is to focus on using the recommended textbook for going through the graphical analysis at your own pace before delving into the lecture material and problem sets. A lot of first-year macroeconomics is standing in front of a whiteboard or blank sheet of paper and playing around with graphs. If you can deal with changes in the graph conditions, you can be sure you have a solid understanding. Also, although it is easy to get lost, once you do understand the graphs, they become a very concise form of revision which is always very handy.
Although first-year might seem a while away, having these tips and always reaching out to second and third years is a great way to save time and increase efficiency, so I hope this helps!