The instant guide to the new IB Economics Syllabus

19 Nov 2021

There are major changes ahead for students sitting for the 2022 IB Economics Exams. The syllabus has undergone a complete overhaul. I am going to give you a rundown on what to expect in the new syllabus and some tips on how you can ace the exams!

Internal Assessment

Students were required to complete three commentaries from each of the following sections: Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and the Global Economy. The word count for each commentary has been raised to 800 words from 750 words previously. More content can now be included. There are nine key concepts that students must integrate into their articles (scarcity, choice, efficiency, equity, economic well-being, sustainability, change, interdependence, and intervention). Students need to be able to demonstrate to the examiner how the key concept explains the article’s content.

Paper 1

A student has to write an essay on Paper 1, which accounts for 20% of their Economics grade. Each essay question has two subparts, the first part being a knowledge and understanding question that asks students to explain key concepts. Part b typically calls for higher order thinking skills such as synthesis and evaluation. Students need to use appropriate examples in part B to achieve top grades.

Students should be happy to know they have more time to write essays now. As opposed to the old format of completing two essays in one hour and 30 minutes. Students must complete one essay from a choice of three essays in 1 hour 15 minutes under the new curriculum.

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Exams are not easier now than they were before. Despite having more time to write their essays, students should note that essay questions may come from any section of the syllabus. Thus, the questions may come from any of four units: Introduction to Economics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Global Economy. The Global Economy has elements of both International and Development Economics. It makes it harder to narrow down topics in your exam preparations, as questions are a lot broader and could include any topic from any part of the syllabus. This is also a possibility the examiner could assess students in both microeconomics and macroeconomics concepts in the same question.

Paper Two

The mark allocation of paper two has increased significantly. Paper 2 now contributes 30% of a student’s economics grade, up from 20%.

Under the new format, students answer one question out of a choice of two. It may appear that students have fewer questions to answer in paper two under the new syllabus, this is not true. The number of subparts for each question have increased to seven! The mark allocation has also increased. In particular, part (g), the last question of the data response paper has seen the marks allocation increase from 8 marks to 15 marks!

Under the new assessment format, there are now calculation questions in paper two. In the past, you can only expect calculation questions in paper 3.

Paper 3

Under the old curriculum, Paper 3 is largely paper which involves lots of computations. However, this has changed. On top of calculation questions, students need to answer a qualitative policy question which has a mark allocation of 10 marks.


The new assessment format is generally different from the old format. In the new curriculum, students must synthesize across the units and see the big ideas behind the concepts. The new assessment format helps students obtain a holistic understanding of Economics and not view the topics as separate units. Furthermore, learning through inquiry is also an objective the examiners hope the students could achieve through the new assessment format. By adding more higher order thinking questions, student could develop critical thinking skills which are important life skills needed in the 21st century.

Do take a look at the infographic below for a summary of the changes in the new IB Economics syllabus.

IB Econs exams 2022


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