SUPER evaluation

Do you always fail to acquire the elusive evaluation marks? Many JC students are unable to understand the demands of the markers when it comes to evaluation.  You will always see this vague statement of “able to challenge assumptions” in the mark scheme. What does it even mean? In the later part of my JC2 year, I found a framework for evaluation that works for almost all the essays. But first, let’s look at what evaluation really is.

Evaluation requires you to make a value judgement (i.e. generally speaking, whether something is good or bad). For instance if the question asks you to discuss the use of fiscal policy to achieve economic growth. An L3 answer without evaluation would be fiscal policy causes X, Y and Z and there are other policies that can achieve EG. The evaluation would be whether fiscal policy is effective, appropriate, good/bad, perhaps when compared with other policies or when examined in a specific economic context.

At the end of the day you should be able to convince the reader why your stance is better after you complete your evaluation. Your stance does not necessarily have to be the either extremes, it can be somewhere in the middle (e.g. Monopoly can be beneficial to society if they are regulated by the government). Stating and elaborating the points for both sides is not evaluation! That is just one of the criteria to obtain L3 marks. Also, evaluation does not start at the conclusion; most of evaluation is actually done by using evaluative language peppered throughout your essay.

The following model that I am suggesting is called SUPER


Underlying cause

Perfect world vs real world

External impacts


Not all the yardstick here can be used in one essay. Depending on the essay, pick one or two of the criteria listed above that you feel you can expand on the most and use it to evaluate your essay.

Span is the most commonly used yardstick for economic essays. It considers the long-term and short-term impact of the policy or any change in the economy/market. It requires you to consider both the long-term and the immediate implications of the measure you are advocating for. If your stance to the above question is supply side policy is the best, you can state how the long run benefit of supply side policy can outweigh the short run cost and how fiscal policy brings too much trade-offs in the long run.

Underlying cause this can be more commonly used in macro essays for evaluation of policy to address macro problems. You know that there can be many possible reasons to the same macro problem. Thus, the appropriate policy should be used to address the root cause of the problem effectively. This evaluation is best use if there is a context set to the question. For instance, fiscal policy will not work in US as the reason for the slow growth is mainly cause by trade deficit and low consumer spending. Since interest rate is already low and government is in debt, trade policy will be best to fuel US’s growth.

Perfect World vs Real World this is another common tool for evaluation. Economics makes many fundamental assumptions, for example the agents (consumers and producers) are rational, perfect information and perfect market structure. In A levels some arguments stand based on these assumptions. Once proven otherwise, the argument will lose its weight. For instance, Singapore trying to adjust its interest rate is something that is just not possible at all, and thus interest rate policy is not the best policy in Singapore.

External impacts when a policy is in place, there is bound to have some other unintended impacts. For instance, expansionary fiscal policy may involve the government borrowing from the private investors, resulting in a crowding out effect. This is mostly used when evaluating policies.

Reach/Significance this compares the extent to which something is affected or the number of people it will affect to determine the effectiveness. This is not very common and can only be used in a few essays, like with the essay above, this cannot be used. Normally I use it with one of the other 4 points above to evaluate it further. However, this is also a useful point to consider when proposing a solution to the problem at the end of your essay.

After using the model, you may still be stuck at E1-2 marks, to move up to another band, your evaluation must not be generic. It cannot be something that will fit nicely in a completely different essay. Use the context to make it unique.

Do refer to the e book here for more essay writing tips

Till next time, dream economics.