Our FaceBook Live Event – A Brexit update, super productive economic resources and time management in exams

The full video is available right here from our Positive Economics co-author, Susan Hayes Facebook Live Q&A event. You can click this link to register for the next one focusing on housing.

We got good engagement and feedback from teachers who joined our Facebook Live event. Some comments below.

Below is a range of resources that could be of help for students and teachers right around the country including:

Highly useful and efficient data sources

Every month, the government publishes a twelve page document filled with exactly what an economics student in Ireland needs including the latest national income data, employment details, earnings from tourism and a snapshot of government finances.

The Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation produce a superb dashboard of 60 economic indicators that have interactive features, offer more detail in the areas that you might be interested in and issues a great monthly newsletter so that you can automatically receive updates along the way.

  • The really easy way to get foreign exchange rates (for international trade and other questions)

If you put the code for two currencies together into a Google search bar, you will get a screen that produces the current exchange rate. For example, these links will get you the euro-sterling rate and the euro-dollar rate in a second!

The latest on Brexit 

  • The menu of possibilities following the UK election in December 2019

This infographic from the BBC shows clearly the key developments that could happen after the UK voting population takes to the ballot box next week. The main parties across the country have different positions on their preferred avenue and the Guardian are keeping a close eye on the polls to track which option England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are leaning towards.

Menu of possibilities following the UK December 2019 election

  • The impact of a devaluation of sterling on the Irish economy.

In a post I wrote for Positive Economics readers in September, I referred to the likely effect of Irish exports being more expensive in the UK, how inflation is imported into the UK household and the resulting change in tourist figures from our nearest international neighbours.

  • Irish consumer sentiment

If we want a sense of how Irish people feel about their own prospects and if they intend to spend more in the future than currently, we would examine a consumer sentiment index. If the value is over 50, then people in Ireland feel that they would spend more. On the other hand, if the value is below 50, it means that people in Ireland expect to contract their spending. The Irish Times posted an interesting report on how the KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index jumped off a six-month low of 69.5 right up to 77.1 following October’s crunch talks that averted a crash-out Brexit. This indicator is worth observing as a way to “take the pulse” of the Irish consumer, both in the context of Brexit and otherwise.

  • Other developments in the European Union

While of course, Brexit is a very big deal, there are a huge number of other issues going on across the economic bloc. For example, as I point out on the video, Ursula von der Leyen is the new Commission President (and notably the first female to take the role). She has just signed off on the next five-year vision budget which clearly outline the key areas the institution will focus on. The six priorities include climate change, social fairness and prosperity, digital innovation, equal opportunity, global leadership and strengthened democracy. I’ve been watching the European Union develop in a wide range of areas over the past few years and its important that we, as economists, do so as many areas of our lives are affected by these changes and the euro-area is our largest trading partner in terms of currency.

Exam time management techniques

  1. Practise time management early

    Many teenagers tell me during our Summer Camps that they’re worried about running out of time in their exams. Many adult students that we work with feel the same, by the way! Rather than be anxious in the leadup to them or depend on luck on the day, I always suggest practising time management much earlier (and I have a fair share of exam experience at this stage to evidence the benefit of it).  For example, if you give yourself 30 minutes to do a question and to the exclusion of all distractions, focus solely on this for that period of time, you will find out at the end of that exercise if you need more time. This exercise tests out how much you can achieve in that timeframe under exam conditions. Let’s say that you do this and need ten more minutes to get it to the standard that you want, then you know that you either need to get through this work quicker or find that ten minutes in another part of the paper. If you start doing this a couple of months before the exam and repeatedly practise towards your target, the clock will be your friend on exam day!
  2. Be ruthless with your time

    It’s so easy to get stuck on your favourite question in an exam because you enjoy doing it and you’re good at it. As a wise teacher said to me one time, “it’s much easier to get the first 50% of the marks than the last”. In other words, it’s much easier to pick up the marks for making an attempt at a question rather than perfecting one that you’ve already put a lot of effort into. During the video, we worked out that there are 400 marks in the entire paper and you have 150 minutes to get them. That means, that if you wanted to achieve 100%, you would need to get (400/150 =) 2.66 marks per minute. This is the way to work out your time budget. If a question in Section B is worth 75 marks, then you should spend (75/2.66=) 28 minutes on that question. After that, move on to the next one even if you haven’t finished. Go back if you have time left over. In that way, you will ensure that you at least attempt everything and get those basic marks.
  3. Let your brain “google” itself for the answer

    It’s natural to feel panicky if you open the paper and see something that doesn’t look familiar. However, your brain is remarkably powerful. If you read through everything, it’s like putting all of those questions into the search bar of your brain and then it’s own “Google-like algorithms” go off in search of what you do know. Start with the question that you’re most comfortable working on and give your brain time to retrieve the lesser familiar content from your memory. You could be surprised how much it can recall when you give it a chance.

You can read the original post from our Susan Hayes here.

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