JC Stuff

[tab name=’Econs’]

This is a short guide from someone who scored S for his first CT and B (+Dean’s) for subsequent tests. You won’t get an A by reading this. My study habits may be different from yours, so some tips may seem icky at first. Before I start, I just want to point out how I study for Econs. See if that helps.

  • I adore highlighters. One color for headers, one color for subheaders, one color for content, and one color for really important stuff such as MC=MR etc.
  • I don’t do tutorials. You will see why later.
  • I read lecture notes twice. The first I skim through at around a minute a page. The second I grab lots of rough paper and scribble down anything interesting I see on the notes.
  • I munch on gummy burgers (or bears if I feel I need to munch longer) Apparently, jaw action helps the brain.
  • I don’ read Sloman but you can download it here if you want it. – [download id=”2″]
  • The day before the exam, I read only the rubrics and other mundane stuff. I go to sleep early at round 9 am.
  • The morning on the exam (think 4 am) I wake up and look through past CTs to learn from my mistakes.

So let’s get down to business!

Thought Process

If you think content knowledge is everything, you are wrong. Trust me, everybody knows their econs well too. If you think you know your stuff too well, skip this section. However, if you haven’t gotten your basic econs up to speed yet, here’s how to do it in an orderly manner.

First things first, there are 4 key things in the thought process of any econs question (this comes after FrameWork in the next section), and almost every other subject. You have to ask yourself what is the:

  1. Definition
  2. Explanation
  3. Diagram (if any)
  4. Link back to question

Take negative externalities for example. The question is about market failure and you figured that you would talk about externalities, merit/demerit goods and public goods with an evaluation on inequity and a link to the Singapore context. So write something like this: Externalities occur when the well-being of a third-party is affected by the production and consumption of the good, but he (or she) neither pays nor receives any compensation to that effect. In this case, the usage of cars produce pollution which affects the health of people around them, but the drivers do not pay other people compensation. [Definition]

With reference to figure 1 above, since drivers only consider their own privates cost, they will use their cars of 0QP units where MPC=MPB. However, the socially desired output level is at where MSC=MSB. Thus, there is overusage of cars by (QP – QS) units. There is a deadweight loss of (draw the extra line yourself) units. [ExplanationThis represents a form of market failure as the welfare of society is not maximised at the free market output level of QP. [Link] Myself, I think the Link is the most important part that many people miss out on their essay. Maybe the question talks about the car industry in China but you talk about car industry in general, only realizing it in the last minute. The Link is where you save your own ass by spinning a tale stating simply that the car industry in China is representative of car industry in general blahblahblah. I smoke alot in my essays.

To recap, Defintion + Explanation + Diagram + Link. It will get in your head after several essays so you won’t have to memorize stupid mnemonics such as TIPSEY and ECOPING.


Econs is all about not misinterpreting the question. If asked to discuss ‘The invisible hand is frail’, you have to recognize that the framework being tested is Market Failure. There are several frameworks:


  1. Demand and Supply
  2. Elasticities
  3. Wage Theory
  4. Market Structures
  5. Price Discrimination
  6. Efficiency Analysis
  7. Market Failure
  8. Government Intervention
  9. Government Failure


  1. Key Economic Indicators
  2. Income Determination
  3. International Trade
  4. 4 Macro Aims
  5. 5 Macro Policies

Note that I removed Globalization as it looks like something the econs people created as an afterthought. There are also other micro-frameworks which don’t deserve to be in the list above.

  1. Price floors/ceilings
  2. Tax incidence
  3. (Several more but can’t think as I don’t have my notes with me)

You can definitely place any question into one of the aforementioned frameworks. Take out your (non-topical) TYS and try it now!


The basics are really so basic that you will sometimes forget to write it. For example, when using the Demand & Supply framework, many often forget to elaborate on the price-adjustment mechanism. It goes like this:

Due to more favourable weather, the supply curve shifts to S1 from S0. At the prevailing price P0, there is a surplus of (Q1- Q0) units. Sellers recognize this surplus and hence compete by offering a lower price to get rid of excess inventories. Buyers also recognize that they will be able to bid down the price of the good since there is a surplus. The price falls from P0 to P1 where equilibrium is restored and quantity supplied equals quantity demanded. Quantity transacted increases to Q1 from Q0 too.

Yes, that means you can’t just say Due to more favourable weather, the supply curve shifts to S1 from S0. Thus, price falls to P1 and quantity transacted rises to Q1. Expect to get little credit for it.

If like me, you just cannot listen to lectures, then you have to study full-length essays, NOT outlines. Some should have been given by your tutor. In fact, they are the most important study material for me. Also, you might require the Econs prelim papers. Remember basics first so don’t get too worked up if the lecturer talks about the Samuelson-Mishi condition and you don’t get it.

Did you just search for that on Google? Tsktsk.


If you are lucky to have a teacher like mine who is willing to mark any script you throw at her, then good for you! But after seeing how people like RY submit so many scripts, I don’t want to stress her out. <3 She already gives us a test a week; I don’t need to give her more work to do.

However, if you haven’t done at least 5 self-timed essays for the whole of last year, shame on you. After doing those 5 essays, you would have learnt some important stuff like time management, applying the frameworks to use, writing fluidly (Econs got no time to think). You also hone your Econs thought process. After that, the ball is in your court as to whether you want to do more tutorials. I don’t really like it because the questions are topical and obviously, you need to apply concepts learnt in that chapter. There is no chance of going off-topic. Thus, I just look forward to the lecture tests and exams where it is more productive.

What is more important

Time Management

I am supposed to be mugging for my H3. I am writing this. This is NOT time management. There are no secrets to writing fast, except maybe this wonderful pen that can be bought at any Popular. It is just super smooth and the air cushion grip (!) allows me to write for damn long. I prefer gel-ink pens though, but for speed, I need to use this pen.

After writing several essays, time management just comes naturally to you. For the latest econs lecture test (a farce as I heard other ppl mugged for that past-year qn), I completed the first question in 47 minutes (I had thought the paper was 1.5 hours dammit) Really, you can feel how much time you need to write what you need to write and sort of speed up at the right moment to avoid exhausting yourself.

Also, try writing cursive. I don’t do it but it is definitely faster. Not to mention how cursive writing reflects maturity. (really!)

Should you plan your essay? I don’t do a full-fledged outline GP-style but simple scribble key points I need to talk about in the margin. This can be as simple as writing the 5 macro policies so that you don’t have to think which one you have covered already. Oh and I highlight keywords and signposts of the question.


I havent got a full 4 for my evaluation. It’s usually 3 marks. My tutor said that if you write In conclusion, {repeats points again} you get an easy 1 eval mark. Not bad huh? So if you haven’t got time and left with 30 seconds, skip everything and write that damn conclusion! You might not even get an extra 1 mark from the thing you are writing then.

Some evals are really standard. Like for GDP, you can close one eye and scribble something on HDI/ISEW/SHIT and get 2 or 3 marks for eval. Others really suck like demand and supply questions.

Personally, I like to impose conditions for my eval. If this PED is inelastic, then this rubber band might snap instead. Or choices. The govt has to perform a CBA to decide on how much good public good to produce. Or if you are a smart alec, you can add They might want to consider the Samuelson-Mishi condition to aid their decisions. Or put it in local context (they LOVE this!) The Singapore Zimbabwean govt is very corrupt so they might not even produce any public good. Or you in their shoes. If I were the government, I would definitely invest in a stupidity power plant as there is no limit to stupidity and we will have perpetual energy if it is built.

That’s all folks; I’ll update as and when I have time. Like this post too!



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Just an ordinary guy, living in an extraordinary world