Are you ready for your 2018 HSC Economics Exam? 

One of the best ways to prepare is to practice, but what example questions can you use?

Below we break down our track record, followed by our predicted short answer and extended response topics. We provide our rationale behind our predictions, followed by a how-to guide for your trial exams. A complete list of practice questions sorted by topic is then provided at the end.

What’s our track record like in predicting the HSC Economics exam questions?

Pretty good!

  • In 2017 HSC successfully predicted 1/4 essay questions & 0/4 short answer topics. However, topics across the entire exam, we predicted 4/8 topics successfully (we just predicted they would be different question types).
  • In 2016 HSC we successfully predicted 2/4 essay questions & 2/4 short answer topics.
  • In 2015 HSC we successfully predicted 2/4 essay questions and 1/4 short answer topics (1 of the 4 we picked as a short answer ended up as an essay question )
  • In 2014 HSC we successfully predicted 2/4 essay questions and 2/4 short answer topics
  • In 2013 HSC we successfully predicted 2/4 essay questions and 3/4 short answer topics
  • In 2012 HSC we successfully predicted 2/4 essay questions and 3/4 short answer topics
  • In 2011 HSC we successfully predicted 3/4 essay questions
  • Since 2004 to 2016 our average is higher than 2/4 essay questions predicted successfully!

2018 HSC Economics Exam Question Predictions

Short Answers
2018 Predictions
1 Environment
2 Inflation + Macroeconomic Policy
3 Exchange Rates + Monetary Policy
4 Economic Development + Case Study
Possible: Economic Growth
2018 Predictions
1 Free Trade & Trade Agreements
2 Globalisation & BOP/External Stability
3 Macroeconomic Policy & Eco Growth/UE
4 Distribution of Income & Wealth
Possible: Microeconomic Reform

What’s our rationale for these HSC Economics exam predictions?


  1. Free Trade and Protection
  • Both the 2018 Catholic and Independent Trial papers respectively included free trade and protection essay questions.
  • Free trade & protection were not examined at all in the 2017 paper. They were an SA question in the 2016 HSC Economics paper with a focus on subsidies and types of protection.
  • In 2015 there was an essay on international organisations and trade agreements impact on economic growth and development.
  • In 2014 it was a short answer, and in 2013 it was an essay.
  • The trend since 2011 (except for 2017) is that free trade/protection features in every paper either as SA or essay question.
  • As a result, we believe this year it will be an essay question focusing on the impact of global and domestic free trade/protection policies on Australia. This was last examined in 2013, and given the US-China trade war is topical.

2. Globalisation and BOP/External Stability

  • The Catholic Trials for 2018 included a question on Globalisation and the Balance of Payments. The 2018 Independent Trials included an SA question on BOP and External Stability so both papers are predicting that it will likely be a topic in the HSC exam.
  • The trend is to examine globalisation and it’s impact in relation to something else. Given in 2017 there was a case study essay, there a globalisation case study essay this year, making it likely tha globalisation will be tied to another issue.
  • External Stability hasn’t been examined since 2015 as an essay with Macroeconomic Policy. There was nothing in 2014, and then in 2013 it was an SA, and in 2012 it was examined through the lens of the impact of globalisation on the BOP.
  • This trend shows that it has a year it is not in the exam, and then it appears in the next 2 years. It didn’t appear at all in the 2016 paper, and int 2017 it was a SA, making it likely that it is an essay this year.
  • Given the impact of globalisation on BOP/External stability hasn’t been examined since 2012, we believe this is undertested.
  • Additionally, with the Liberal Government prioritising External Stability policy objectives through their contractionary budgets, it’s also topical.

3. Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Growth/Unemployment

  • The 2018 Catholic Trials included a Micro question on Eco Growth and Full Employment. The 2018 Independent Trials included an essay on Fiscal Policy and Eco Growth and UE. So across both papers, there was a focus on the issues of Economic Growth and Employment (just with differing policy focuses).
  • Every year since 2011 (with the exception of 2014) there has been at least 1 macroeconomic policy question as an essay question. In fact, in some years (2016) there has been two!
  • Since 2013, there has been an essay question every year focusing on an Economic Issue.
  • Economic Growth hasn’t been tested explicitly as an essay question since 2013 when it was combined with Inflation. Given Inflation was examined in the 2017 HSC Exam it won’t appear as an essay this year.
  • This means Economic Growth has been undertested as an essay topic and is likely to re-appear. Especially given the recovery in global economic growth, and Australia’s increase in Economic Growth this year. It’s also been an interesting Macroeconomic Policy environment, with historically low interest rates, but contractionary fiscal policy.
  • Unemployment was an SA question in 2017 exam, was a standalone essay question in 2016, SA with Inflation in 2015, SA in 2014, and an essay question in 2013. So it appears in almost every exam, and given it was an SA question in 2017 paper, we think it’s likely to appear as an essay.
  • Unemployment is also an interesting issue at present. We’ve seen continued improvements in the UE rate towards our NAIRU, however, this is masking structural problems, as well as UE in specific segments of the population.

4. Distribution of Income & Wealth


  • The 2018 Catholic and Independent Trial papers both had Distribution of Income & Wealth as an essay question, albeit with different focuses. One looked at policies more broadly, and the other zoomed in on Labour Market Policies.
  • This hasn’t been an essay question since 2014, so it’s been undertested as an essay.
  • It’s also severely undertested in general, with only being tested as an SA in 2017 and 2012. So in 6 years, it’s been tested 3 times. Once as an essay, and twice as an SA. Last year in 2017 it was an SA, so it makes it a possible essay question for 2018 HSC Economics exam.
  • It’s also been topical this year with changes to the tax brackets raising concerns of impact on Distribution of Income & Wealth.
  • Additionally, Australia’s Distribution of Income has been worsening, also making it an interesting essay topic.

5. Microeconomic Reform

  • Both the 2018 Catholic and Independent Trial papers included Micro Reform in some way as an essay question. The Catholic Paper looked at MR with Eco Growth and Employment, while The Independent Paper looked at Labour Market Policies.
  • The 2017 HSC Economics Exam however included as an essay Labour Market Policies so this is NOT likely in 2018.
  • Micro Reform (beyond Labour Markets) was not examined at all in the 2017 exam and there was NO Micro Reform in the 2016 exam.
  • Mirco Reform was last examined as an essay in the 2015 HSC Economics Exam.
  • In 2014 it was in SA with Macro as a policy mix question.
  • In 2013 it wasn’t examined at all, and in 2012 it was an essay question with Macro as part of a policy mix.
  • So overall what this shows is that Micro Reform has been undertested, given that in the last 2 years it hasn’t appeared in the exams at all.
  • We believe as a result, it’s likely that there could be a Micro Reform question in this 2018 HSC Exam – excluding Labour Markets.

Predicted Short Answer Questions

1. Environment

  • The 2018 Catholic Trial included environment as a SA question, while the 2018 Indendent Trials did not include it at all in their paper.
  • It was part of an essay in the 2017 HSC exam relating to your case study (so a country other than Australia).
  • In 2016 and 2015 it appeared as an SA question.
  • 2014 it was an essay quesiton, and in 2013 it was an SA question.
  • 2012 was the first year it did NOT appear at all in the paper, and in 2011, it was an SA again.
  • This trend shows that environment pretty much features in EVERY HSC exam. Given it was an essay question component in 2017, we think it will likely appear as an SA question this year.

2. Inflation & Macroeconomic Policy

  • Both the 2018 Catholic and Independent Trials included Inflation and a Macroeconomic question in SA.
  • In 2017 Inflation and Policy appeared in the HSC as an essay, so it won’t be an essay this year.
  • It didn’t appear in the 2016 HSC Economics paper, and it appeared with UE in 2015 paper in SA.
  • It was an essay question in 2014, it didn’t feature in the 2013 exam, and it featured as a SA in 2012 exam.
  • So the trend is such that it doesn’t appear in one year, and then it appears in the next 2 years, as an essay and SA. Given we’ve had it as an essay last year, it makes it likely it’s an SA this year.
  • Also given we’ve had inflation BELOW the target band, it makes for an interesting question looking at the role policy has played and it’s effectiveness.

3. Exchange Rates & Monetary Policy

  • Neither the Catholic or Independent Trials included Exchange Rates in their exams.
  • In saying this, it was NOT examined at all in the 2017 HSC exam.
  • It was a SA in the 2016 exam, it didn’t appear at all in the 2015 exam, and it was a SA with CAD in 2014 exam. It was an essay in the 2013 exam.
  • So the trend here is that firstly it’s been underexamined. Secondly, it seems to appear at least every 2 years. So given it wasn’t in the 2017 HSC exam paper, it’s likely to be featured in this exam. We think it’s more likely to be a SA question (although it could be an essay).
  • Why connected to Monetary Policy? Given the changes in interest rate differentials, as the global economy has recovered, this could make for an interesting SA question.

4. Economic Development + Case Study

  • The Catholic 2018 Trials included this question, and the Independent Paper including Economic Development + Role of International Organisations. So both papers included Economic Development.
  • Economic Development hasn’t been examined since 2015 as an essay question. And it hasn’t been including in ANY HSC papers from 2007…
  • So this topic is CRAZILY undertested in HSC exams!
  • Given last year there was a Case Study Essay question, you won’t be getting that this year. Given however the case study has a strong focus on Economic Development, it’s likely you may get this integrated with this in SA, as a potential 5-6 marker.

5. Possible – Economics Growth

  • The 2018 Independent HSC Economics Trial paper included a question on Multiplier and Economic Growth.
  • The 2017 HSC exam included Economic Growth as an essay question relating to your case study. So it wasn’t Australian specific.
  • In 2016 there was a SA question on Economic Growth. In 2015 there was an essay question on Economic Growth.
  • In 2014 there was no Economic Growth, and in 2013 it was a SA question.
  • So the trend that emerges is that it appears is that is usually appears in each paper (2014 being the exception) and it swaps between SA and Essays.
  • We think it’s more likely to be an essay question this year, however it’s likely to come up in the paper somewhere, and so it could also feature instead in SA! Hence why we’ve put it down as a ‘possible’!


  • The point of putting these predictions together is to help you prioritise and focus for your study for the HSC Economics exam.
  • Obviously, there is no guarantee (or any warranties implied or otherwise) that any of the predictions (despite our best efforts) will be correct and if you rely upon these predictions, you do so at your own risk.
  • As such – while it is our recommendation that it would be wise to focus on the predicted topics and write practice essays, if you really want to give yourself the best shot of a Band 6 for the HSC exam – cover everything, in crazy detail (I know this is obvious but I felt it important to reiterate!)

Here are some HSC Economic Essay Questions to help you practice with:

HSC Topic One – The Global Economy

This topic focuses on the workings of the global economy from a very macroeconomic viewpoint and looks at the impact of globalisation on individual economies.

Question 1

Discuss the impact of globalisation and trade liberalisation (removal of trade barriers) on the global economy.

Question 2

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of free trade and analyse how technology has increased the quantity of world trade.

 Question 3

Discuss the advantages of free trade and the role of international organisations (WTO, IMF, World Bank, United Nations, OECD ) and free trade agreements in promoting trade in the global economy.

 Question 4

Evaluate the policies used to promote economic growth and economic development of a country other than Australia.

 Question 5

Explain how globalisation has led to variations in the standard of living and differences in the level of development between nations.

HSC Topic Two – Australia’s Place in the Global Economy

This topic is more specific (and often more difficult) than the previous topic and asks the student to have an understanding of Australia’s place in the global economy, what our largest trading partners are, and what changes to the global economy can effect Australia.

Question 1

Using diagrams, explain how movements in the Australian dollar can affect the performance of the Australian economy.

Question 2

Analyse the impact of the changes in the global economy on Australia’s Balance of Payments.

 Question 3

Explain the causes of Australia’s sustained Current Account Deficit (CAD) and explain the impacts of a high CAD on the Australian economy.

 Question 4

Discuss the impact of changes in the domestic and global economy on Australia’s exchange rates and analyse the causes of recent trends in Australia’s exchange rate with the global economy.

 Question 5

Explain the factors that influence Australia’s Balance of Payments.

HSC Topic Three – Economic Issues

This is perhaps my favourite of all the HSC Economics topics as it asks us to examine the nature, causes and consequences of the economic issues that are facing contemporary economies including; unemployment, inflation, distribution of income and wealth as well as sustainable development.

Question 1

Analyse the causes of unemployment and their effects on the Australian economy.

Question 2

Explain the causes of inflation and the impacts of high inflation on the Australian economy.

 Question 3

Discuss the consequences of an unequal distribution of income and wealth and the impact of fiscal policy on the distribution of income in Australia.

 Question 4

Analyse the changing sources of economic growth and their effects on the Australian economy and business cycle.

 Question 5

Examine the economic issues associated with the goal of ecologically sustainable development.

HSC Topic Four – Economic Policies and Management

This topic looks at the aims and implementation of economic policies in the Australian economy and asks us to respond to hypothetical situations.

Question 1

Analyse how macroeconomic policy (i.e. Fiscal and Monetary Policy) can be used to achieve external stability.

Question 2

Explain the method behind how a Government can finance a budget deficit.

 Question 3

Evaluate the rationale behind the Reserve Bank of Australia’s target inflation rate and explain why monetary policy suffers from a time lag limitation.

 Question 4

Discuss the benefits and disadvantages of having a minimum wage and explain the national system for determining the minimum wage.

 Question 5

Using diagrams, explain how market-based policies can assign a price to a negative externality (e.g. pollution) and improve the quality of life through a paradoxical reduction in consumption.

Good Luck!

All the best for your HSC!

Economics has some complicated aspects but with a little bit of time and persistence I know you can do it.

Most of all, remember that you can do this.