I’m having an interesting day. One of the Picts (look this up) I customarily hang out with for after-school grap juice (fermented) apparently decided to yank me back to reality after a three-day weekend by way of a perky good morning note:


Shades of Adam Smith

Then it turns out (no, I don’t read memos) that the IB2 crowd are off (and with any luck, home studying – god knows some of them need it) and the IB1 crowd is apparently spending the day conducting various science experiments with basic materials such as tape, plastic wrap and tinfoil. My classroom looks like this:



No worries, I checked to see if anything on their list of ingredients can cause an explosion. We arrived at ‘unfortunately not’ so I abandoned them to sit at my keyboard. They still make their presence known by coming over to grab the mouse now and then to get Youtube music. Something called ‘Imagine dragons’ is playing at the moment. In a while I am going to fight back with Ramstein and Hedningarna. Yes, my music taste is…eclectic.

Now, if you are an IB2 student, this is what you are looking at:

Given that you have, for the most part, five other subjects to revise, and assuming equal shares, you have around between 12 and 24 effective hours to revise for your economics exam. If there was ever a time to calculate maximum marginal returns, this is it!

Avoiding the increasingly tiresome debate as to the extent to which theory of the firm (ToF) is indeed avoidable, here is what I have recommended in terms of last-minute-save-my-butt-revision for  exams. Naturally it is taken for granted that you have revised properly and have covered the syllabus! The points below are really just playing around with probabilities – and a few bets I have going with colleagues.

Paper 1


  • ‘Explain…’ negative externalities in production and consumption and ‘Evaluate…’ ways to decrease said externalities.
  • ‘Explain…’ effects of expenditure tax or subsidy on a market and ‘Evaluate…’ effects on stakeholders.
  • HL specifically: ‘Explain…’ market failure in provision/consumption of merit/public goods and ‘Evaluate…’ ways to solve such failures.
  • HL specifically: ‘Explain…’ competition in monopolistic competition/oligopoly and ‘Evaluate…’ whether monopolistic competition/oligopoly is less desireble than perfectly competitive markets.


  • ‘Explain…’ causes of inflation/deflation and ‘Evaluate…’ whether inflation should be the primary macro objective for govts/central banks.
  • ‘Explain…’ Keynesian/monetarist LRAS and how this affects demand-side policies and ‘Evaluate…’ the use of D-side/S-side policies to decrease unemployment/inflation.
  • ‘Explain…’ income inequality/Lorenz curve and ‘Evaluate…’ ways by which governments can reduce income inequality.
  • HL specifically: ‘Explain…’ the Phillips curve/LR Phillips curve and ‘Evaluate…’ the extent to which there is a trade-off between inflation and unemployment.

Paper 2


  • Definitions (‘a’ questions): free trade area, bi-/multilateral trade agreement, preferential trade agreement, comparative advantage, quota/tariff, dumping, current/capital/financial account, managed/fixed exchange rate, terms of trade (HL)
  • Explain + diagram (‘b’ and ‘c’ questions): effect of a subsidy/tariff, trade creation/diversion (HL), effects on floating exchange rate of increased GDP/inflation/current account surplus, how a fixed exchange rate is managed
  • Evaluate (‘d’ questions): are current account deficits harmful, the effects of depreciation/appreciation, common currency union (EMU), use of protectionism to improve current account


  • Definitions (‘a’ questions): human capital, appropriate technology, absolute/relative poverty, GNI, PPP, primary goods, export promotion, FDI, aid/ODA/tied aid/grant aid, NGOs
  • Explain + diagram (‘b’ and ‘c’ questions): explain a development process using a PPF, developmental effects of MDC tariffs on LDC goods
  • Evaluate (‘d’ questions): falling terms of trade in LDCs and effects on development, FDI and effects on development, interventionist vs market-based policies, export promotion vs import substitution

Paper 3 (HL)

This is probably the easier paper to outline since there are basically four areas;

  1. Linear equations (supply and demand, maximum/minimum price, shifing curves due to taxes or change in the price of substitutes/complements)
  2. ToF (calculating and/or showing profit/revenue in diagrams),
  3. Macro (GDP and GNI, real vs nominal, Keynesian multiplier, weighted index, marginal taxes)
  4. Trade (current/capital/financial accounts, exchange rates, areas in tariff/quota diagrams, opportunity cost ratios in comparative advantage, terms of trade index)

Last minute strategy for Paper 3; focus on revising your three strongest areas in the list above!