Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Cambridge Pre-U Economics

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Cambridge Pre-U Economics

Article excerpt

This article briefly describes what the new Cambridge Pre-U Economics course offers, how it works in the context of other sixth form studies, how it is assessed and why it was developed. It explores some of its perceived strengths and weaknesses and looks to provide a basis for further debate as teachers gain experience of the course.

What is in the Cambridge Pre-U Certificate in Economics?

The course was designed by University of Cambridge International Examinations as an alternative route for schools and colleges preparing students for related courses at university. It has developed out of discussions between the awarding body, universities and schools.

Essentially the course covers the same concepts as A level Economics, with some additional theory and an enhanced expectation regarding knowledge of current events. Microeconomics, macroeconomics and applications to topical issues are the main elements of the syllabus.

The intention is to provide greater scope for breadth and depth of study with some flexibility in the coverage of topical issues. In addition, students will be graded according to ability on a much broader scale. Instead of the traditional A, B, C, D, E, ? and U grades, students can get passes at nine levels. There are three levels of distinction, three of merit and three of pass. There is an A* and an A** grade to highlight the very best students.

How does the course work and how it will be assessed?

Students opting for the full Pre-U diploma course are to take three principal subjects and a common fourth, Global Perspectives. (This isa seminar-based course terminating in an independent research report.) All these are to be examined at the end of the second year of the course. No modules can be taken along the way. Each principal subject provides the student with a "certificate", graded as stated above. Students who complete three similar principal subjects and Global Perspectives are awarded a "diploma", graded similarly to an appropriate level.

The principal subjects will be assessed according to the traditional knowledge, application, analysis and evaluation levels of response. The two economics papers will be 2 hours and 15 minutes each. One will have 30 multiple-choice questions, four short compulsory questions and one compulsory data response question. The other paper will consist of three essays. Students are to answer one question from each of two sections, one with three microeconomic questions and the other, three macroeconomic. The third question can be from either section. A third paper gives students the opportunity to answer one long essay question in 1 hour and 15 minutes, from a selection of four topical issues.

Students completing the global research report to reach the diploma level will be assessed on new skills criteria. There are four levels as before:

* A01 critical analysis and evaluation

* A02 critical analysis and interpretation

* A03 presentation, communication and collaboration

* A04 judgement, reason, self reflection and empathy.

Why was the course developed?

The Pre-U course aims are these:

* to develop a stronger relationship between universities, awarding bodies and schools

* to prepare students more appropriately for university

* to allow flexibility for more breadth and depth in each course

* to provide a broader framework for assessment.

Perceived strengths

This course is another option for schools; while keeping the main concepts common to most courses on offer, it does include additional theory. …

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