Some Study Tips for Economics Courses


Here are some useful tips to help the students to effectively study economics courses.


Class notes:

  1. Before class: you need to review lecture notes from previous class; make notes of new terms, concepts, measures, models, graphs, and theories; formulate questions.

  2. During class: adapt a format which allows a wide left-hand margin for summarizing and editing your notes plus a narrow right-hand margin for recording your own insights, questions, etc.; be alert to assumptions underlying hypotheses and note how hypotheses are tested.

  3. After class: Review and edit your notes; use the left-hand margin to summarize material and list key terms; "test" yourself as soon as possible to recall lecture highlights.

Reading the Textbook:

  1. Preview the materials: Look at sub-headings, graphs, questions at the end of each chapter; note new terms.

  2. Read actively: Formulate questions before you read (from lecture notes and preview) and then read to answer those questions; translate abstract concepts to specific instances; know what every term and symbol means.

  3. Test yourself immediately and cumulatively at the end of each section; then use a combination of marginal notations and underlining to summarize.

  4. Set aside time to question and criticize what you've read--then make notes of those thoughts.

Working with Graphs:


    When learning a new graph in economics you need to: 

  1. Ask yourself the purpose of the graph. What economic story is being told?

  2. What are the economic assumptions and the lessons?

  3. Be sure to note the units of measurement on each axis (dollars for both C and Y)

  4. Be sure to the direction of the relationship (positive or negative).

  5. Shifts must be distinguished from "movements along" a particular line.

  6. You should be able to evaluate the effects on variables measured on both vertical and horizontal axis.

    For comprehensive materials about working with graphs visit


Preparing for Exams:

  1. Integrate and review lecture and text notes; make a list of key topics, concepts, problems, theories, models, and terms.

  2. Review via ACTIVE RECALL rather than just passive re-reading.

  3. Re-work homework questions and other problems.

  4. Practice using the information in the form that will be required by the test format; predict test questions and problems and practice answering them.

  5. Realize that various test questions will ask you to know, comprehend, apply, and analyze what you've studied.

Taking Exams:

  1. Glance over the whole exam quickly, assessing questions as to their level of difficulty and point value; set time goals for each section accordingly.

  2. Begin to work the questions which are easiest for you; the others will be easier when you've "warmed up."

  3. Attempt all questions.

  4. Save time at the end of the exam for re-reading and editing.

  5. Analyze returned tests to prepare for future ones.

 English Vocabulary Improvement

  1. Develop your own, personalized list of words you want to use -- just one or two new words a day.

  2. Be alert for "good" words when listening or reading. New words worth using should become stop signs for detailed attention, look them up, learn all about them.

  3. Personalize your dictionary. Every time you have to look up a word in your dictionary, mark it in the margin and indicate the context and occasions which caused you to look it up. 

  4. Use and reinforce a few new words each day -- cumulatively for several weeks. It's been estimated that you must need and use a new word at least 10 times before it's really "yours."

  5. Expose as many senses as possible to a new word -- i.e., see it, say it, hear it, write it.

  6. Above all, use new words in writing and conversation