Please Mind The Platform Gap: Taking H2 Economics

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By Johnathan Lim (23S03M)

Chances are you’ve heard of this infamous phrase: supply and demand. If so, congratulations! You already know what H2 Economics is all about. No, seriously.

Uncertain waters

If you’re like most people, Economics is likely a new subject for you. With only 4 secondary schools in Singapore which offer Economics (Temasek Secondary School, Tanjong Katong Girls Secondary School, Westwood Secondary School and Presbyterian High School), most of us dive headfirst into the vast unknown of Economics without any background in the subject.

Econs was the most popular choice, but to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.

Mr Melvin Yeo, Y5 Economics teacher

While dropping the Humanities (Geography! History!) you have grown accustomed to just to take a completely new subject sounds absolutely absurd, that’s what most people did. And with that came a huge learning curve.

Maybe you’ve heard horror stories about Econs. About how the nightmarish nature of the exam makes it so difficult to score. About how the content is novel and convoluted. About how the marking scheme is ridiculously strict. Maybe you’ve even heard about how many Singaporean healthcare policies you need to memorise to use as examples. 

While that may be true when you first take up Economics, that is far from the truth as you approach A-levels. Everything will come much more naturally than you might think.

Everyone goes through the same journey so it’s normal to feel that way at the start, but towards the end, after you get enough practice, then there is no issue in terms of application and doing well.

Mr Melvin Yeo

Dazzling Demand

Being arguably one of the most popular JC subjects, I personally haven’t met many (two) people who don’t take Economics. Maybe I’m biased, or maybe there really is an underlying reason for such a significant demand (haha, get it?) for Econs.

Well recognised and respected as a subject, Econs can be used to apply for almost any university course (business, sociology, policy-making…). Its flexibility makes it perfect for teenagers who have yet to have their future career  figured out and just want to keep their options open.

What To Expect

Being a Humanities subject, you should probably expect essays (and some case studies). And seeing that there are so many essays, you should naturally expect a lot of writing. So prepare your pen refills as we delve deeper into what Econs has in store for us.

Analytical skills and argumentative skills are at the forefront of economics. A lot of Economics is about presenting your argument in a logical manner. It makes you draw connections between theory taught in class and real-life phenomenon, in order to explain it. 

Actually, Econs requires a mindset where you try to solve problems—it trains you to be more analytical and that is where the application comes in.

Mr Melvin Yeo

It also demands a keen awareness of the real world. It rewards real-world examples to support your argument as well as rigorous analysis, making it necessary for you to look beyond the superficial. So if you’re not really keen on real world issues, chances are economics isn’t really for you.

Reasons to not choose H2 Economics

Back then, I thought econs would ground me in terms of real-life knowledge like investment and whatnot. It didn’t… but I thought.

Mr Melvin Yeo

If you’re taking economics because you think you’re going to learn about investments and stocks, sorry to disappoint—you won’t! Economics, especially at the JC level, is quite theoretical with a strong emphasis on “application” centred on understanding and explaining rather than specific practical skills (e.g. investing).

In order to score well for Economics, there are a lot of answering techniques that have to be mastered. As the exam is mostly open-ended, you would have to structure your points in a clear and logical manner. 

There is also quite a lot of memory work required to do well: lectures are long and often packed with multiple new concepts which you would have to understand thoroughly in order to use it effectively in your answers. 

One of the most crucial parts of an Economics exam, however, is time management. At the A-levels, Paper 1 consists of two case studies to be answered in 2h30mins, and Paper 2 consists of three essay questions (each with two parts) also to be answered in 2h30mins.

With essay questions, a common occurrence among students is to feel like you’ve never written enough, so you keep adding to your argument. And before you know it, surprise! You’ve run out of time. Hence, it is important to develop the discipline to write what you need to, and move on.

So…what now?

If this has painted a daunting or unappealing picture of Economics for you (e.g. you like to take your time in exams), maybe you should reconsider taking Economics. Don’t succumb to peer pressure (i.e. just because everyone seems to be taking Econs), especially if you already have an end goal in mind and Economics is not in the picture.

And hey, not everyone knows what they want, and it seems easier to follow the crowd. But the crowd doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. Look up the syllabus, or borrow your senior’s Econs notes to get a clearer picture of whether Econs is really something you want to take. After all, you wouldn’t bank on studying a subject for 2 years without knowing what it is, would you?

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