Ten ways to improve evaluation skills and marks in economics
What is evaluation?
Evaluation is about making critical judgements and coming to reasoned conclusions on the basis of the evidence that you have in front of you and the wider knowledge you can bring to a question.
Strong evaluative answers use supporting evidence to justify an argument. Justifying an argument carries more marks than making the argument since stating an argument is often a relatively simple task.
Examples of command words in a question that require or invite evaluation
The command words within a question that definitely require evaluation include the following:
Evaluate – e.g. compare a number of possible views about an economic problem or an issue and come to a reasoned conclusion about which view holds most weight
E.g. evaluate the performance of the Bank of England in maintaining macroeconomic stability in recent years
Assess - analyse an economic issue and then weigh up the relative importance of different strands
E.g. assess the possible effects of a rise in the external value of the pound against the currencies of our major trading partners
Do you think – a question that invites a personal response to a question but where the highest marks are awarded for good analysis backed up with reasoned argument and supporting evidence.
E.g. do you think that a national system of road pricing should be introduced for Britain’s motorway network?
Discuss – a question that prompts you to provide and then compare a range of possible views about an issue or a problem.
E.g. discuss the advantages and disadvantages of introducing a national minimum wage into the UK labour market
Criticise analyse the problems facing UK manufacturing industry in today’ global economy
To what extent – again a question that invites quite a broad analysis and discussion and in particular a judgement on the relative importance of something or the relative merits / de-merits of a policy
E.g. to what extent should the government run a high budget deficit as a way of stimulating growth during a recession?
Ten strategies for improving your evaluation skills in data response and essay questions
1. Make good use of your final paragraph – avoid repetition of points already made
2. Look for key stem words in the question – build your evaluation around this
3. Put an economic event, a trend, a policy into a wider context
4. Be familiar with different schools of thought e.g. free market versus government intervention
5. Be aware that a singular economic event never happens in isolation especially in a world where economies are so closely inter-connected.
6. Question the reliability of the data you have been given (for the Unit 4 EU paper)
7. Draw on your wider knowledge to provide supporting evidence and examples
8. Consider both short term and longer term consequences (they are not always the same)
9. Consider both positive and negative consequences
10. Think about what might happen to your arguments if you drop the “ceteris paribus” assumption
Economics is rather like a jigsaw, if you do enough reading, thinking and revision, eventually the pieces really start to fit together and finally you can see the whole (bigger) picture
Make good use of your final paragraph
• Try not to summarise points that have already been made. This scores no extra marks and is a waste of time.
• Instead seek to come to a reasoned conclusion – e.g. selecting your main argument and then justifying it.
• Perhaps look forward, e.g. is it too early to come to a definitive conclusion?
• If you are really pushed for time, add in some final evaluation points as bullets.
Look for key stem words in the question – build evaluation around this
“Evaluate the view that the government should give financial...
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