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How To Teach Yourself Economics

By Yann, published on 30/06/2019 Blog > Academia > Economics > Best Tools for Learning Economics at Home

Whether you’re studying A-level economics or want to brush up on economic theory or principles, there are plenty of ways that you can boost your knowledge learning economics at home.

Although there are plenty of tried-and-tested home learning methods, such as getting an economics tutor to teach you more about the subject, there are other, less thought-of ways that you can learn more about and evaluate this enduringly popular subject.

Be Your Own Economics Teacher

Economics is a hugely popular subject at A-level and at university, and it’s no surprise why. Having an understanding of economics, or even an undergrad economics degree, means that you’re not only proficient in maths, but it also means that you have a greater appreciation for why the world works as it does, and how government policies can shape economic policies.

As a result, it’s understandable why people who don’t even take the subject want to study more about it. So whether you’re an A-level economics course student, applying to be an economics undergraduate at university, or just want to know more about the market economy, there are lots of resources out there that can illustrate key economic theories and principles.

Read Popular Economics Books

One easy, efficient and fun way to learn more about economics is to introduce yourself to some popular books about economics. Examples of economics texts that are approachable, logical and enjoyable to read include:

  • Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt;
  • The Armchair Economist by Steven Landsburg; and
  • 50 Economics Ideas You Really Need to Know by Ed Conway

These books are great reads if you’re out and about, and they really make the topic of economics come alive, from inflation to microeconomics, which is perfect if you’re struggling to find any enthusiasm for learning about it!

They also help develop your analytical thinking and help you to understand some of the key economic theories, from capitalism to fiscal policy, as well as the economic institutions in existence today.

Selection of books, which are great resources to supplement economics tuition. Learning economics at home is easier if you read widely. (Source: CC BY 2.0, Abhi Sharma, Flickr)

Brush Up on Your Textbooks

Of course, if you’re an economics student, then you can also help improve your academic performance and efficiency simply by using some of your free time at home to go through your textbooks.

Regardless of what syllabus you study, it’s unlikely that your teacher will teach every single aspect of a curriculum in depth in the classroom. That means that you can use any private study time at home to research and put emphasis on those more technical points. Having this discipline will not only give you a broader appreciation for the subject but will also improve your grades, coursework, and essay writing during the academic year.

Subscribe To Magazine And Newspapers

The Economist (Print & Digital available)

The Economist is one of the longest-standing newspapers/magazines in the UK and to this day it continues to provide a unique global perspective from the point of view of an economist.

The editors embrace internationality, highlighting the links between politics and business.

“If it matters in our world we cover it – and cover it well.”

Six million people read The Economist every week, including some of the world’s leading politicians and business figures. The publication can be ordered in paper, or via an app on your phone.

New Economy Magazine

The New Economy magazine is a publication that is bursting with stories about “new, green technologies and how they fit into the banking, political and world order.”

Those behind the scenes work tirelessly with experts from the leading technology sectors and public and private sector organisations to bring the readers all the latest information on the best new research and ideas emerging from scientists all over the world.

“This magazine is a must-read if you love to be informed of the latest scientific developments as well as news on the state of the economy and how this affects international current affairs. The magazine puts an emphasis on how these issues affect the ordinary readers and will often delve deeper than many other publications in the same genre.”

Use The Internet As Your Mentor

It’s no big surprise that the Internet is full of useful blogs, websites and social media platforms that inform our everyday lives and can help us to develop a better understanding of our world.

Though Economics may not be the word that’s on everybody’s lips right now, if you want to learn about, you can find information about it! One of the most obvious and underrated places to visit at times like these is Wikipedia, the people’s encyclopedia.

The examples used and the general application of the concepts aren’t the best you will find so don’t take note of these, but the great thing is that you can find almost anything related to economics there, including all of the subtopics you might be interested in like micro and macroeconomics.

Other good things about Wikipedia are that it offers references, and it’s free!

Supplement Your Economics Tuition by Following the News

Another easy and quick way to keep your economics knowledge up-to-date is to keep up with the latest developments in the news on the free market.

The impact of economics, including international economics, can be felt all around us. As a result, you can learn a lot about it just by hearing about the state of the economy and international trade.

With the advance of social media, you don’t even need to watch TV to get the latest updates on topics such as monetary policy. Valuable news sites, from the BBC to Reuters, all have twitter accounts that you can engage with at the tap of a button.

Additionally, sites such as the BBC allow you to sign up for news alerts, so when any breaking news comes through, you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of social media and the trappings of technology, you can still catch up on the latest economic news by following popular magazines such as the Economist (as previously mentioned). These magazines often outline key items of global economic policy, along with their theoretical implications.

If you’re studying economics at A-level or at university, the great thing about keeping up to date with the news is that you have plenty of real-world examples that you can learn to reference during your exam. This will not only impress the examiner, but it can really help to boost your grades.

Economics tutors can teach you about the trading room floor. Learning economics means you understand more about real-world economic issues. (Source: CC0 1.0, geralt, Pixabay)

Get Economics Tuition Online

Another great benefit to learning economics from the comfort of your home is that you have access to a wider range of study materials online and learning strategies than ever before.

For example, did you know that YouTube has a huge range of educational videos that you can watch to improve your knowledge of economics? Many established educators, from the Economist to the London School of Economics and Political Science, regularly post content that is designed to keep you informed about the wider world, including business, banking, fundamental regulatory matters, and economics.

Additionally, many prestigious universities now offer online courses on economics that are both run online and available to the general public. MIT, for example, has a number of online courses that cover topics from the principles of microeconomics to supply and demand and economic history.

You can also:

  • Try out a massive online open course (Mooc) at Coursera; or
  • Challenge yourself to learn something more about economic analysis at edX.

Both websites offer a range of economics courses for a variety of ability levels, and also include some courses in partnership with some of the best universities out there.

Although some of the courses can be very maths-focused, some of them contain very minimal numerical or quantitative elements, so it’s best to have a look online and see what course most appeals to you.

Of course, you can also use your time online in a more applied way, especially if you are currently studying AS or A-level economics. Most of the main course providers, such as AQA, Edexcel and OCR, provide past or sample papers, along with an answer guide.

If you download these papers and test your knowledge, you’ll not only supplement the learning that you do in school, but you’ll also help refine your exam technique, making you even more prepared for your final exams.

An apple, laptop and phone. Perfect tools to research economics lessons online! There are plenty of economics classes available online. (Source: CC0 1.0, Pexels, Pixabay)

About Home Study With EdX

The website edX offers a range of courses that learners of economics can enrol on and complete from the comfort of their own home. Just take the following course, for example, which is verified and is classified as a ‘self-paced’ course meaning that you take it as fast or as slow as you feel comfortable.

“Fundamentals of Macroeconomics

Are you interested in a serious and solid background in economics?

This course offers you a thorough view of everything economists know about markets: their strengths, their failures, and how this view can help you understand the most relevant economic problems. We follow a rigorous approach that combines visual arguments with realistic examples to help you connect the main economic concepts with your own experiences.

The only required knowledge is certain familiarity with graph reading and basic high school mathematics.

By the end of this course, you will have explored the key questions in macroeconomics:

-Why some societies manage to coordinate and prosper in the long run and others don’t. Are developing countries doomed? What is postponing their prosperity?
-Why even the most successful economies experience occasional crises that compromise the quality of life?
-Why are there spikes in the unemployment or inflation that cause pain in our societies? What can we do about it?

What you’ll learn

  • The GDP, its meaning, measurement, and components

  • The main indicators of the labor market and the nature of unemployment

  • Savings, investment, and the financial system

  • The monetary and the banking system

  • Central banks, monetary policies, and inflation

  • International trade, capital flows, and exchange rates

  • Economic fluctuations

  • Fiscal and monetary policies”

Secure Your Own Economics Tutor

Of course, whilst the above methods of learning economics at home are all effective, there is another, simple way to have economics principles explained to you.

If you use an economics instructor, whether through private tuition or in a small group, you can easily learn more about the subject in a fun and engaging way.

There are plenty of online tutors that you can find through online tutoring websites, such as Superprof. These sites pool together a database full of experienced, qualified tutors that are happy to help you on your learning journey.

Learn Economics From Home With A Superprof Tutor

A tutor can help focus your efforts on the topics that you really need help with. What’s more, a tutor can:

  • Help prepare you for upcoming exams;
  • Go through specific areas, such as macroeconomics, in deeper detail; and
  • Increase your confidence overall to improve your academic performance

Although you can certainly teach yourself a lot about economics or macroeconomic theories at home, these benefits are all difficult to obtain unless you have someone on hand to help you where you need assistance most.

The joy of online tuition, in particular, is that you can still learn about economics in a guided and structured way, without needing to leave the house. So it’s never been easier to use a site like Superprof to find a great tutor that can help you.

Although there are things to think of, such as the cost of a tutor, they should not be a barrier to helping you secure an enthusiastic tutor and further your education.

Here is an example or two of Economics tutors working in and around the capital.

Sameed, £22/h

Economics tutor experienced and specialised in business finance, macro and micro economics for all levels secondary, gcse, a levels & undergraduate

“I am from Dubai and currently studying in 3rd-year of Financial Economics at the University of Leicester, I am tutoring secondary to undergraduate students who study and need help with Economics and business studies. My techniques generally include in-depth knowledge of all the Economic concepts and diagrams explanation involved in the micro and macroeconomics, as well as practice paper questions and exam preparation for A level and GCSE students.”

Andrew, £95/h

Award-winning LSE class teacher with ~10,000 hours experience offering economics tuition in London

“My approach to tutoring is results-driven and grounded in the cognitive science behind how students really learn.

Lessons are structured as a series of Socratic questions. Students’ answers to these questions will take them to the next stage of the explanation, and eventually we reach its conclusion – which is always a wonderful “aha” moment for students.

Because I’m asking my students questions (rather than lecturing them!) I’m able to pinpoint any misconceptions in their understanding immediately, which we can dispel and move forward.

The questioning approach makes use of the “testing effect”: students who are tested (or test themselves) on what they’ve learnt invariably outperform students who don’t – sometimes by as much as 50% (the equivalent of going from a C grade to an A*). It also takes advantage of “generation”: students asked to generate their own answers to questions before being shown the correct answer, remember the correct solution more robustly than students who are just given the solutions.

After each lesson, I ask my students to create memorable flashcards, using a technique known as “visceralisation”. I teach my students how to organise their flashcards systematically so they can review them over spaced intervals – this takes advantage of “spaced repetition”, which has been shown to double retention.

I monitor my students’ progress meticulously, and adapt our lesson progression according to their learning needs. I focus on “mastery learning”, which means we devote as much time to a topic as is required for mastery – mastery is how students achieve 100% at A Level (not just A*s). Of course, if time is short, I make sure we’re prioritising the most relevant topics for examination and carefully plan out the most productive use of our lesson time.”

As you can see, here are two very different Economics mentors with varying experience and price.

Economics Distance Learning

Finally, we know that you’re keen to learn from home whether it be because of cost savings, convenience or for personal reasons, but sometimes you can’t avoid enrolling for some additional training, especially if there’s a dream job goal to reach.

So if you are looking to take a GCSE or A Level in the subject, then you may consider enrolling on a course at a local college. That said, there are some nationally-recognised courses which you have the opportunity to study towards with flexibility from your personal computer.

The Open University offers various Economics-related courses with varying levels which you can sign up to do right now. Below is an example of one of the proposed courses, this time at degree level.

“BA (Honours) Economics

Economic considerations play an important role in our personal lives and influence key social and political issues such as government policy, international trade, business decisions, work and climate change. Studying this degree, you’ll learn economic concepts, theories and techniques that will enable you to understand real world problems and help you make more informed decisions in your own life. You’ll be able to specialise in an area of economics and carry out a project on a topic of your choice. The analytical skills and statistical techniques that this degree develops are highly valued by employers.

Key features of the course

  • Analyse key real-world topics about society, such as employment, markets and businesses, finance, new technology and government policy.
  • Study econometrics, applying statistical methods to real economic problems and using specialised software.
  • Develop skills in analytical thought, research, numeracy and data analysis that make economists highly sought after by employers.
  • Carry out an economic research project on a topic of your own choice.
  • Please note that full time study is not currently available whilst the new modules are in production.

Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits of compulsory modules.

Stage 1 will give you the necessary grounding in economics, personal finance, statistics and mathematics.

Next, in Stage 2, you’ll cover the core economic theories and methods that have a variety of applications.

Stage 3 completes your degree and you’ll learn about economic theories and techniques in more depth before carrying out a small research project.”

Can I Grasp Economics At Home? Let’s Recap!

Overall, there are a number of ways of learning economics at home. For example, you can buy, or even borrow, a number of popular bestselling books that teach you about economics or economic principles in a fun, easy to understand way. These books are a great way to learn about economic theories, as you can read them on the go, and often present information in a new way that you may not have previously considered.

Alternatively, you can look online for some learning inspiration. Sites such as YouTube, Wikipedia, as well as Moocs, now provide more learning opportunities than ever before for someone looking to brush up on their economics knowledge. Not only are such courses cheap, or even free, but they are great resources for those who want a more structured approach to their learning.

The, there’s the option of enrolling on a distance learning course like those offered by the Open University. Most courses let you go at your own pace and you can choose specifically what you learn.

Finally, you can hire an economics tutor to give you personalised help with areas that you’re struggling with. Tutors, such as those on offer on Superprof, can be a great resource, especially when it comes to exam time and learning those all-important study tips. Although you can teach yourself about economics from home, sometimes it really helps to have someone on hand to help with any specific questions you have.

So why not look for an economics tutor today?

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