It’s the night before your HSC Economics Exam.

And you’ve been procrastinating like crazy until this moment, and finally the adrenaline has hit, and you’re ready to go to dive into study.

But what should you do?

We’ve got you covered with 6 step HSC Economics study plan to help you keep on track the night before your exam!

Step 1: Re-write your study notes
Step 2: Convert syllabus dot points into short answer questions
Step 3: Create a 1 page summary of key economic statistics
Step 4: Write practice essays
Step 5: Complete a past paper
Step 6: Prepare your plan of attack for the exam the next day 

Step 1: Re-write your study notes

The first step in preparing for your HSC Economics exam is to make sure you’ve got a solid understanding of all the content across the syllabus. This should only take about 1.5 that’s its fresh in your mind for the next day

Based on the interviews I’ve conducted with 1500+ students who’ve scored ATAR’s over 98, the best way to quickly and effectively achieve this is by using the Rule of 3.

Rule of 3

The Rule of 3 is simple: get your study notes out and re-write them 3 times.

Don’t just read over them. Reading is a passive study activity which has pretty much the lowest return in terms of memory retention for time.

Ever read a paragraph and realised you had no idea what you just read?

This is why putting pen to paper and writing out key ideas as you go through your notes is critical. It makes the task more active and improves memory recall for the next day.

Why 3 times? 

From all the interviews I conducted with top students, 3 was the magic number. It was the sweet spot in terms of the minimum required repetition of material for it to stick in your brain and be easily recalled the next day in the exam.

So re-write out your notes 3 times.

What does ‘re-writing’ mean?

Re-writing doesn’t mean writing every single word you’ve got in your notes, word for word.

  • It simply means putting pen to paper and writing down any key points
  • This could be writing down definitions, statistics, advantages or disadvantages, creating a mind map, or a flow chart, or drawing a diagram
  • Writing down whatever you think is most important on the relevant syllabus dot point
How do you do this with typed study notes?
  1. Get your notes out and create a margin that is 1/3 of the page.
  2. Print out your notes 3 times
  3. Then on each set of notes, in the empty 1/3 of the page (the margin that you created) go through your notes and write out the key points.

Just like below!

economics notes1:3page

How do you do this with handwritten study notes?
  1. Get an empty exercise book
  2. Go through your notes and write out the key points in the exercise book

The purpose of this exercise isn’t to create a neat set of super summarised exam study notes.

The purpose of this study exercise is three-fold:
  1. The act of re-writing itself which significantly enhances memory recall
  2. It enables you to develop exam technique responding to short answer questions
  3. It enables you to cover the entire syllabus and identify any areas that you are weak in and require more focus

Note: As you are going through the syllabus and your notes re-writing, identify any specific syllabus dot points that you are struggling with. Flag it and spend more time going into more depth – get your textbook out if need be.

Action Points:
  1. Get your study notes out and re-write them out 3 times
  2. If you’ve got typed notes create a 1/3 page margin and print it out, if you’ve got handwritten notes write it out in a separate exercise book
  3. Write down key points, definitions and statistics and draw diagrams and flowcharts to explain relationships
  4. Convert the syllabus dot points into short answer questions as you go through the exercise – this will help you develop exam technique and better test your knowledge
  5. Identify any areas you are weak in – spend more time going into more depth. 

Step 2: Convert syllabus dot points into short answer questions

As you’re going through your notes and the syllabus dot points, a great way to test your knowledge as you write down key points is to turn syllabus dot points into questions.

This way as you’re doing this exercise you’re simultaneously doing short answer questions and developing your exam technique for your HSC Economics exam!

How can you do this?

It’s simple! Add a verb at the beginning and question mark at the end.

Here’s an example for you: 

Syllabus dot point: The basis of free trade – it’s advantages and disadvantages.

Short answer question: Explain the basis for free trade and outline 3 advantages and disadvantages. 

Here’s another:

Syllabus dot point: Trends in the size and composition of Australia’s Balance of Payments.

Short answer question: Discuss the consequences of the trends in the size of composition of Australia’s Balance of Payments. 

Step 3: Create a 1 page summary of key economic statistics

From spending the last 10 years tutoring students for HSC economics, I’ve found that the 1 key thing that students who excel in HSC Economics do is keep up to date with the real world economy. 

They often have an in-depth understanding of what’s going on in the global economy and how it connects and applies to the theory covered in the course.

Note: So in other words, for any part of the course, you need to be able to use real world examples and case studies to illustrate theory in application.

With this in mind, it’s critical that you spend time today developing your ‘war-chest’ of real world examples, case studies and statistics that you can use to illustrate theory in application.

If you haven’t already, either typed or handwritten, create a 1-2 page summary of all the key economics statistics and examples you need to remember and use for the HSC economics course. This should take you about an hour or so. 

How can you do this quickly?

Go through the syllabus and course, and for each topic and dot point, identify what 1-2 statistics are critical. Write these down in a list and then quickly google to find the up to date information.

It should look something like this:

Statistic Required
International economic integration Growth in GWP
Growth in global financial flows
Growth in global trade flows
Growth in movement of labour
Growth in TNC’s and International Mergers & Acquisitions
Statistics on AFC, and GFC as evidence for IBC and RBC
Key areas you need to cover include:
  • Budget – current budget outcome, and last 2 years + key expenditure items
  • Monetary policy movements – so the cash rate and interest rates (currnet and historical for 5-10 years)
  • $AUD (current, and historical movements over last 5 years)
  • TOT (current, and historical – highs and lows across last 20 years)
  • CAD (current size of CAD and it’s key components, and how this compares with historical trends)
  • Inflation (current and historical over last 5 years)
  • Economic Growth (current and historical over last 20 years)
  • Unemployment (current and historical over last 20 years)
  • Distribution of Income and Wealth – Australia’s Gini Co-efficient

Now that you’ve got your summary of statistics and examples (or if you already have it) it’s time to apply the Rule of 3 from above.

Get an exercise book and write out the key information on these 1-2 pages at least 3 times. As you’re doing this, identify how you might use each statistic in a short answer or essay question.

Action Points:
  1. Go through the syllabus and create a list of key statistics and examples you need to memorise
  2. Create a 1-2 page summary of these statistics and examples
  3. Applying the rule of 3, write out this 1-2 page summary at least 3 times

Step 4: Write practice essays

Given 40 marks out of 100 (40%) of the HSC Economics exam are in the essays, and that the essays are generally the hardest part of the paper, it’s important to do some last minute essay practice.

Additionally, given this also involves putting pen to paper and writing, it’s also a great way to further lock in the content in your memory and improve memory recall for the next day.

Find 4 practice essay questions.

Find 4 different essay questions covering each of the topics (ideally) from past HSC Economics exam papers. This way you’re making sure you get maximum coverage across the entire HSC syllabus.

We’ve put a table of these together for you here:
PaperMarking Guidelines
2018 HSC Economics Exam Paper2018 Marking Guidelines
2017 HSC Economics Exam Paper2017 Marking Guidelines
2016 HSC Economics Exam Paper2016 Marking Guidelines
2015 HSC Economics Exam Paper2015 Marking Guidelines
2014 HSC Economics Exam Paper2014 Marking Guidelines
2013 HSC Economics Exam Paper2013 Marking Guidelines
2012 HSC Economics Exam Paper2012 Marking Guidelines

Now that you’ve got 4 practice essays covering the course, give yourself 15 minutes for each one and in timed conditions write down in dot point format how you would respond to this question.

Why dot point format?
  • It allows you to cover more questions in a shorter period of time
  • It improves your pattern recognition with questions
  • Enables you to get more comfortable responding to a range of questions
  • It also develops strong memory recall

As you’re writing out your dot point answer to the 4 essay questions, make sure you write down the following:

  • Write down the structure you would use.
  • Write down the real world examples and statistics you would use.
  • Draw any graphs you would use.

Review your dot point essay – are you missing any examples, diagrams of points?

Action Points:
  1. Pick 4 essay questions to write
  2. Write out dot point responses to each one, in 15 minutes timed conditions
  3. Write down the structure, examples, statistics and graphs you would use

Step 5: Complete a past paper

Time allowing, after completing 4 dot point practice essays, now get out an entire past HSC Economics exam paper.

Go through the entire paper, closed book. 

  • With Multiple Choice give yourself the same allocated time as you would have in the exam. 
  • With Short Answer go through it in dot point format, just writing down key terms, and examples you would use.
  • With essays, go through and respond in dot point format, writing down structure, examples and diagrams.

If you struggle with any multiple choice questions, head over the NESA online multiple choice tool and take 20-40 more practice multiple choice questions.

Action Points:
  1. Get a past HSC exam paper and complete it
  2. Give yourself allocated time for Multiple Choice
  3. Go through in dot point format for SA and essays
  4. If you need more practice with MC, head over to NESA online MC tool here

Step 6: Prepare your plan of attack for the exam the next day 

Finally, it’s critical you map out your plan of attack for the exam the night before. Don’t wait until getting into the exam to do this, as it’s easy to make a snap decision under stress. 

Here’s the allocated time breakdown of time and each section:

  • Section 1 – MC – 20 marks – 36 minutes
  • Section 2 – SA – 40 marks – 72 minutes
  • Section 3 – Essay #1 – 20 marks – 36 minutes
  • Section 4 – Essay #2 – 20 marks – 36 minutes

Total time = 3 hours.

State rankers for HSC economics usually spend less then the allocated time on multiple choice questions (MCQs) and short answer sections.

So, they fly through MCQs quickly (although still focusing on getting 100% as it’s in many ways the easiest part of the paper to achieve this) and short answers and they they use the additional time for the essays.

This has it’s risks however – MCQs and short answers are the part of the paper that you’ve got the best shot of picking up easy marks and maximising your marks.

You should really be aiming for 90%+ in these sections minimum. Spending less time on these sections to prioritise your essays means you could make silly mistakes and drop some marks on these sections.

What to do in the end? 

Use your spare time on essays, but don’t do this to the detriment of the short answer and MCQs. 

Completing the HSC Economics exam paper chronologically:

- Paper designed to be completed this way
- Enables you to complete MC and SA in quicker time then allocated and use additional time for essays
- In reading time you can start solving MC questions enabling you to complete this section first quickly as the answers are fresh in your mind
- Enables you to read the essay questions and for them to sit in your subconscious as you work through the paper, enabling you to have great clarity in how to respond when you get to the essays
- By doing MC first before short answer and essays, you run the risk of forgetting the statistics you’ve memorised that you could use in SA and essays

Completing essays first:

- Enables you to get your statistics out into an essay while they are still fresh and top of mind
- Enables you to make sure you don’t run out of time for essays so you nail them
- Easy to go over time in essays in an attempt to make sure you nail the answer
- Run the risk of running short of time in SA and MC
- Less time for the essay question to sit in your subconscious whilst attempting other parts of the paper

Now it’s time for you to make your decision!

Action Points:
  1. Identify and remember the time allocations per section
  2. Don’t go overtime for any one section – no matter what happens
  3. Identify how you will use any spare/additional time
  4. Identify which order you will attack the paper – chronological or reverse?

And there you have it! That rounds off our 6 steps towards preparing for your HSC Economics exam the night before!

Looking for some extra help with HSC Economics?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC Economics coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor get in touch today!

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!

Rowan Kunz is the founder of Art of Smart Education, an award winning provider of 1 on 1 tutoring and mentoring. Rowan has spent the last 8 years conducting research with thousands of Australia’s top students who scored ATAR’s of over 98 and is the author of Secrets of HSC Success Revealed. Rowan has 10 years experience in tutoring and delivers workshops across Australia on excelling academically at school. Rowan’s videos on YouTube have been watched more than 1,000,000+ times.


Download your guide to writing Band 6 HSC Economics study notes!

Subscribe to receive a free template to help you write killer HSC Economics study notes and get that Band 6! 

Check your email for your free HSC Economics Study Notes Template!