How to improve your Economics grades?


If you got an A or B for your prelims, you shouldn’t be too far off from an A at the A Levels. Your only likely problem is that you might possibly become complacent and choose to sideline this subject completely to focus on other subjects – that may end up causing you to do worse off at the A Levels.

C or D – you have a problem in 1 of the 4 areas listed below

E – Probably 2 areas

S or U – probably 3 areas or all of it

  1. Time Management
  2. Essay Writing Skills
  3. CSQ Application
  4. Content Mastery

I’ll try to provide some quick, simple tips for each of the 4 areas to help you with your revision.

Time Management

Many don’t quite realise this – but the number 1 killer at the examinations is time management.

I always tell my students this – it doesn’t matter how much you know, and it doesn’t matter how much you write.

It matters, within the 45 minutes timeframe given – are you able to provide an in-depth, on-point essay of sufficient length?

For CSQ, have you trained yourself to answer the CSQ in an extremely disciplined manner – exact amount of time to read the extracts, read the questions, and for each question, allocating the right amount of time to answer each question depends on the number of marks.

It doesn’t matter how brilliant you are. If you can’t deliver within the time limit, you can’t score.

You want to score 15 to 18 marks on average for the 3 essays you have to write, not score 20 marks for 2 essays and leave 1 blank. Take note!

PS: Also, DO NOT compromise handwriting for speed.

How do we get time management right?

Practice makes perfect. Time yourself, doing each essay. Only rest when you are finally able to get it done within 45 min timeframe. Likewise for CSQ. Keep to 1 hour for each CSQ if possible while not stretching beyond 1 hr 5 mins.

Essay Writing Skills

Skill No.1: Understanding the Question Requirements

1 common mistake by students – they don’t plan. They don’t read deeply into the question enough. They don’t tear the question apart and make sure that they have accounted for every single requirement of the question. They just love to get the rough idea of ‘which topic’ the question belongs to and then just vomit everything they know about the topic and expect to score. That’s tough luck. You have to make sure that every point that you write – is helpful towards answering the question!

Many students ask – how do I even know what are the requirements of the question?

  • define key words, explain key concepts required by the question
  • make use of your rulers, highlighters, to break down the phrasing of the question and understand how each word plays a part in your understanding of the requirements
  • ask yourself – what exactly does the examiner want to test me with this question. (read the question once more)
  • plan your answers around the question requirements – and make sure each paragraph you write directly goes back towards answering the question.

One good way to start –

  1. Go grab past year prelim questions with answers from the school bookshop
  2. Attempt outlines for essay questions
  3. Check your outlines against the suggested answers provided by the schools
  4. Read the answers, see what you are missing out in your own outline
  5. After reading the answers, go back to look at the question again, and see specifically what does the answer attempt to address – how can we reverse engineer the question requirements from the answers.

Skill No.2: Basic Elements of an Essay

Do a quick-check on the following questions

  1. Do you bother to write a proper introduction, with the key definitions defined, key concepts explained, provide a summary of the key points that you will be writing in the body and provide a stand/answer to the question?
  2. Do you write ridiculously long paragraphs? Do you consciously take the effort to do paragraphing – whereby each paragraph has ONE key point, well explained and elaborated and serves to link back to the essay question and is satisfying an essay requirement?
  3. For each point that you are writing, did you incorporate the 4Es –
    • Explain (provide an in depth explanation about the point you are trying to bring across)
    • Elaborate (provide an Economics framework / link the point to Economics theory and try to address the question)
    • Examples (self explanatory, provide examples relating to context of the question)
    • Evaluate (an opinion, but substantiated with theory & data)

*Important Note for H1 Students: The worst idea you can have is to ignore your essay segment. You think that essay segment occupies less marks as compared to the CSQ segment, so you can kind of ignore it – You are thinking very dangerously. Understand this, you have only ONE essay to do, if you don’t do well in this essay, there is no 2nd or 3rd essay unlike the H2 students to help you average out the marks. So essay is equally important!

CSQ Application

For CSQs, there are not that many quick-fixes to improving your score. You have to actually do them, to improve.

If you are failing your CSQs, I’d recommend that you plough through at least 20-30 CSQs from now till the A Level exams.

Generally, there are 3 types of CSQ questions

  1. Trends (1m – 4m)
  2. Linking data to economic theory (2m – 8m)
  3. ‘Policies’ and ‘solutions’ (6m – 10m)

If you are failing your CSQs – don’t start doing CSQs first, read through past year / this year prelim papers with school answers provided.

Look at the way the question is phrased, and look at how the school answers the question, and try to understand why the answer is phrased in a particular way to answer the question. In other words, try to understand how to formulate answers for CSQs first.

Go through at least 10 – 20 CSQs, reading the CSQ, the questions, and understand the answers and why they are answered in that certain way.

And of course, after that, start practising! To see a significant improvement in your CSQ grades, you need to try no less than 20-30 CSQs.

Content Mastery

with less than 5 weeks to your A Levels, there is no time to be reading your lecture notes. You should try to tackle the above 3 areas. While you are studying or practising for your essays and CSQs, you should have your lecture notes immediately by your side for reference.

When you practice your essays, and CSQs, you are already actually doing content mastery at the same time.

Refer to my previous post here

Also, don’t be afraid to Google for data to substantiate your answers during your revision. Extra figures and evidence helps!

Remember, don’t be demoralised or affected by your prelim results. Your prelim results provide you a platform for you to figure out your weaknesses and gives you the tools to work on them. So, go work on them!

Meanwhile, come book consultation appointments with me. I’ll be releasing information about consultation sessions available with me soon.

#econstuition #economicstuition #econstutor #economicstutor #tuitiongenius #eugenetoh

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How to Revise Effectively for Economics with less than 6 Weeks to the A Levels?

Mr Toh’s 5 Steps to Acing Economics


  1. Knowing how NOT to study

You have less than 6 weeks to the A Levels. There is no time to waste doing ineffective revision. At this stage, you need to know what is effective and what is not. What you should not do is to be sitting down and just flipping through your lecture notes – that is highly ineffective.

What you should do is to have your lecture/revision notes ready on your desk, to refer to, but you should not be studying those now. You should be attempting essay or CSQs paper but have these resources to immediately refer to when you have any content gaps.

  1. Understand what is tested

H2 Econs 9732:

H1 Econs 8819:

Know your enemy, and you will win every battle.

Looking at the syllabus requirements is something so basic, but nobody bothers doing it anyway. One way to check your current understanding for the examinations is to look at the section that says “Candidates should be able to:”

And ask yourself, if you satisfy the requirements in the checklist. At the same time, you can also look for essay questions / case study questions that satisfy these requirements to attempt

  1. Exposure & Practice is Key

This is a no-brainer. The more exposure and practice you have before the A Levels, the more confident you will feel about attempting the paper.

This is my recommendation:

  • Get an A4 sized exercise book
  • Pick 50 Essay Questions (when you attend the essence workshop, Mr Toh will provide 20 for this year, and give you access to last year’s materials as well) of a wide variety – make sure your 50 questions spans across a wide range of topics and concepts
  • Make sure you have good answer outlines for these 50 Essays
  • Attempt to plan an outline for each question
  • After the planning is done, refer to the answers outline
  • Are you anywhere close? If yes, then just add in the points that you’ve missed out
  • If not, then proceed to copy the entire essay out, while consciously trying to commit the key points to memory, understand what you’ve missed out and make sure you are able to reproduce this essay should it be tested at the A levels.
  • If you complete this exercise, you should be at least achieving a “B” grade for your essays.
  1. Be willing to seek help

It is so hard to try to fight this battle on your own. The more people you can get on your side, the better your chances of doing well.

Who do you need on your side?

Your school Economics tutor

Remember this! Your school Economics tutor is there to help! If he/she has offered consultation slots, GRAB them! They are valuable. But please don’t waste their time, have questions prepared. Attempt essays & csqs, try to mark them yourself, and bring any queries to them and ask them how you can further improve. Also bring them a list of any content questions you may have to clarify

A few study buddies

Your friends could be better at Economics than you are. It could be useful to study with a few friends who are getting decent grades in Economics. Discuss essay outlines and talk to them about how each question should be approach. A typical study session can involve bringing 20 essay questions, and then discussing them 1 by 1, trying to solve them together

Mr Toh

I am always available on WhatsApp at 8182-3036. Don’t ask me long questions through WhatsApp though – I can’t really type long answers there. You can email me long questions at

I am quite busy most of the time, so if I miss out on replying you, you can bug me on Facebook as well – same email to add me on Facebook,

  1. The rule of the “4Es”

Whether be it answering essay questions or the higher marks range questions for CSQs, please remember Mr Toh’s ‘4Es’ rule to apply. For every policy that you are trying to explain – have you done the following

  • Explain – Provide an explanation of the policy that you are trying to discuss
  • Elaborate – Have you linked the policy that you are trying to discuss to ‘Economics’, i.e. by providing an Economics framework or analysis that the policy would do to solve the ‘problem’
  • Examples – Have you provided useful examples in reality that could help strengthen or further illustrate your point
  • Evaluate – Have you provided a substantiated opinion on whether this could work? Why or why not?


Note: This is the first part of a series of revision tips that Mr Toh will be sharing progressively over the weeks leading to A Levels to help you revise better!


#econstuition #economicstuition #econstutor #economicstutor #tuitiongenius #eugenetoh

You can add Mr Toh on the following social media platforms here:


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You can also visit our website at

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the trouble with the economy

The latest median forecast for the economic growth this year is 1.8% (

We should be expecting stagnation in the economy in the next 2 years and possibly a recession should there be any shake-ups externally.

What is the problem?

  1. Demand for Singapore’s exports is falling

Worldwide, demand is falling. The shipping sector is doing badly. Hanjin, one of the largest shipping line in the world, has filed for bankruptcy. Oil and gas is also faring poorly as demonstrated by Swiber’s recent brush with bankruptcy.

In the previous global financial crisis, the western advanced economies were the ones in trouble, but Singapore could still rely on China and regional economies for some support.

The situation now is different. The western advanced economies are in a limbo, while China is simultaneously slowing down, dragging down regional economies that export oil and commodities.

  1. Labour costs are rising

For the longest time, Singapore has been at full employment. Our unemployment rate has been hovering at record low levels of 1.9% to 2.1% (even at the peak of the recession, it was a healthy 3.4%).

We had previously solved our supply bottlenecks with a quick fix, i.e. by importing cheap foreign labour. This is no longer possible and politically palatable since 2011. Thus, we have had to ramp up efforts on pushing productivity since then. While the target was 2%-3% productivity growth for the last 5 years, the actual realized productivity growth was bordering on 1%.

It is hard to increase productivity. Firstly, it takes time. Secondly, while firms are still struggling to push for higher productivity, they will have to bear with the higher labour costs. Lastly, the smaller firms who are unable to do so will exit – which may not be a bad thing (natural selection – not productive = not competitive = out) but we must be prepared for more layoffs.

While we switch to productivity-driven growth, the world will not wait for us. In the immediate term, we can expect to become less competitive in terms of pricing and see some fall in demand.

What will the government likely do?

  1. A recession budget for 2017

We are likely to see a recession budget for 2017, likely what we will see in in Minister’s Heng upcoming budget. A recession budget would be something similar to the Resilience Package of 2009. There’s also a chance that the Government might decide to draw down on the reserves should the economic climate worsen drastically and tax collections fall significantly.

Here are some of the measures that the government could potentially adopt in the 2017 Budget

  1. Increase corporate income tax rebates (note that the government is already doing so presently – 50% for YA2016 and YA2017)
  2. Introduce personal income tax rebate
  • Reduce CPF Contribution rates for employers
  1. One time increase in social transfers to lower income groups similar to GST Offset Credits
  2. Some form of wage subsidy scheme to retain workers similar to the Jobs Credit Scheme
  3. SME Cash Grant

The above are simply ‘recycling’ of old ideas and tricks in the “government handbook”

  1. Increasing government expenditure

Government should realise that external demand will be weak for some time, and within this prolonged period of weak global demand, increased government expenditure can provide some support for the economy.

Thus, the government will likely bring forward some infrastructural construction projects with long term benefits (schools, hospitals, highways, public transport).

However – this will weaken the fiscal position in view that we already have a primary budget deficit now.

What should the government do?

  1. Recommend a wage freeze via the NWC for at least 2 years to keep wages competitive
    • This is something that we used to do, but may no longer be politically palatable to push through
  2. Further provide support for productivity growth in sectors which have significantly lower productivity compared to Western counterparts
    • I would recommend a tweak in schemes such as the PIC, whereby currently the 40% cash grant / 400% tax deduction is a standard one-size fit all solution. What could be done would be to target specific industries with significantly lower productivity compared to western counterparts such as construction sector by giving them say “PIC ++”, 80% cash grant instead. Vary the % depending on sector – higher amounts for sector struggling to increase productivity.



#econstuition #economicstuition #econstutor #economicstutor #tuitiongenius #eugenetoh

You can add Mr Toh on the following social media platforms here:


Instagram: or


You can also visit our website at

Please write Mr Toh a review on Facebook if you’ve benefited from his classes at