Economics is a combination subject that is added to the curriculum generally at the Junior College level. While Secondary School has covered the basics leading up to it in terms of mathematics and general socials studies, many students find economics to be an unfamiliar subject that often leaves them floundering. On the other hand, others perform excellently in economics, taking to it like a duck to water.
The answer to the question of whether economics tuition is necessary is dependent, frankly, on the students themselves. If they are naturally able to grasp the concepts covered in economics and apply them to the essay-writing portions, then they may not need economics tuition after all. On the other hand, if they are clearly struggling with either the content or the exam strategy, it is generally understood that they may need additional guidance.
With that said, how can students best benefit from economics tuition in Singapore then?
Tuition should not be the same as schoolwork
The first thing that should be clear is that tuition is a supplement to schoolwork. Neither is a substitute for the other. Some consider tuition as a ‘follow-up’ to school content and work, but there are many students who take the opposite approach instead – their tuition teachers, whether at tuition centres or home tuition in Singapore, cover content earlier than what is covered in schools. This strategy generally allows a more customised method of introducing confusing content and allows students to perform well in school by default.
Tuition should not be parroting schoolwork and strategies. For most students, the end goal they are working towards would be their performance in the ‘A’-Level exams or IB exams; to do this, it is imperative that your child (and students in general) explore multiple ways of solving problems, creating analogies, and addressing concepts. While schools cover economics principles in specific ways, tuition can serve as a different avenue to introduce different ways of thinking about the same principles from different perspectives or concepts in the same way that there is often more than one way to solve an equation.
Real-life applications are important
Unlike subjects like mathematics, which students will often complain about ‘not having real-life relevance’, economics has very real applications in the modern world. A firm grasp of economics can aid the student not just in their exams but also in their understanding of global geopolitics and world economics in the future.
To that end, the addition of relevant case studies becomes important. These case studies are important in demonstrating how the theories that they are studying are being used in real life, and how career economists often use the same concepts to study and address genuine problems in the global economic infrastructure. While schools and teachers will often include certain case studies, they rarely make the effort to update their case studies to reflect modern and relevant economic changes. The inclusion and tracking over time of economic movements from the start of the student’s time with their economics tuition teacher can allow students to slowly learn and understand how what they are studying can be seen in the world. By the end of two years of using this strategy, many students become relatively comfortable with current events and economics – a valuable skill that will continue to be in use even after their exams.
Content strategy versus exam strategy
Learning how to grasp and understand the content and learning how to take an exam is a different set of skills entirely. Answering ‘data response’ questions and essay questions can take similar strategies but are ultimately different.
Content strategy requires students to fully grasp concepts, as described above. It focuses on ensuring that pupils understand aspects of macroeconomics or microeconomics, or how certain factors influence others. Exam strategy, however, focuses on ensuring that students understand questions and question types, catch keywords, and know how to answer the questions and essays properly.
Exam strategies should be covered once most of the content has been completed, whether at home tuition in Singapore or in school. Once the content is completed, the focus will shift towards applying that content in practice papers, and lessons at home or school will then also focus on the questions, paragraphs, and essays. More time is spent analysing questions and probably answers, and as the time ticks ever-closer to the looming ‘A’-Levels or IB exams, even more proportion of time is focused on gauging the strategies of those who are marking the eventual papers.
A strong grasp of concept application in exams is important; unfortunately, just understanding concepts will not be enough for these almost life-changing exams.
Economics tuition isn’t mandatory, and whether it is a necessity depends on the performance of your student or child. However, with a good tuition teacher or a tuition centre, a student’s previously poor performance could very well be on track to improvement as tutors make efforts to supplement schoolwork, cover current case studies and scenarios, and develop exam strategies best suited to your child. As such, economics tuition can be incredibly helpful to the student that is struggling with economics but wants to do well.