5 steps to collect real-world examples for essays in IB Economics?

The IB Econ Guru: Your IB Economics Guardian Angel!

IB Economics students need to collect a bank of solid real-world examples (RWEs) to use in their essays. These RWEs are expected in paper one part b essays, and for HL students in paper three part b policy recommendations. So how does an IB Economics student go about building a bank of solid RWEs? Follow this process:

1- Grab the IB Economics subject guide and highlight all learning outcomes labeled as ‘AO3’ (assessment objective three). These are the learning outcomes that involve synthesis and evaluation. They will be the learning outcomes assessed by writing long essays that involve evaluation using real-world examples (RWEs), like paper one part b and paper three part b (HL only). These essay questions will always be drawn from topics and concepts under the AO3 learning outcomes 😉

An AO3 learning outcome about the importance of price-elasticity of demand for firms and government decision making
AO3 learning outcomes about externalities and managing common pool resources

2- Come up with a list of keywords to search online that relate to concepts under these assessment objectives. Use keywords that can be found in the news. For example, if you’re searching for a real-world example of an indirect tax, don’t search for it using the term ‘indirect tax’ but rather use terms like ‘cigarette tax’ or ‘sugar tax’ or ‘carbon tax’ etc…

3- Type each keyword in the Google search engine and click on the ‘News’ tab. This will give you all news articles published recently that include those keywords. Remember, some articles will be useful for a number of keywords and concepts. For example, an article about a cigarette tax can be used for essays about a variety of topics: indirect taxes, price elasticity of demand, market failure, negative externalities of consumption, and demerit goods!

4- Pick an article for each of the keywords and concepts related to AO3, save each article as a PDF or screenshot, and collect them in a folder labeled ‘RWEs’. I instruct my students to use simple labels that are easy to spot, for example: indirect tax RWE, subsidy RWE, price floor RWE, minimum wage RWE, monopoly RWE, etc…

5- For each article, you should be able to summarize it in one or two sentences using the 5Ws and 1H framework: who, what, when, where, why, and how?! Here’s an example: ‘in November 2021, the Biden Administration raised the taxes on vapes to eliminate the price differential with regular cigarettes in an effort to discourage youth vaping!’

Who: Biden Administration

Where: United States

When: November 2021

What: Raised taxes on vapes

Why: To discourage youth vaping

How: Eliminating price differential with regular cigarettes

Make sure you can discuss and evaluate when presenting arguments supported by your RWEs. Think about counter-arguments and evidence that challenges perspectives presented in your essays. Make sure you can look at short term as well as long term implications. Try to also see the RWEs from the perspectives of different stakeholders: winners vs losers? I would also recommend looking at the economic theories that support those RWEs, and think about how things often differ in practice from how they are in theory!

Does this sound like a lot of work? Absolutely! But honestly, having solid and strong real-world examples (RWEs) to support arguments in essays is ultimately what distinguishes a student who barely passes IB Economics from a student who gets a 6 or a 7 😉

Also, keep in mind that you’ll be repeating this process throughout the two-year cycle of the course so that you don’t have to do it all at once for all topics taught!

Still overwhelmed and need help? Head on over to the IB Econ Guru YouTube Channel and become a member to get access to a lot of exclusive content (including videos about real-world examples, like the one below 👇🏽 😉 ). Also, consider showing your support and thanking me for this awesome post by buying me a coffee ☕️

Peace out✌️ ☮️

A members-only video about cost-push inflation from the macroeconomics unit!