International GCSE Economics: assessment support

9 January 2020

The purpose of this page is to help you understand our assessment of International GCSE Economics

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You may also be interested in a sister page which tries to support your delivery of the qualification.

Exam materials

Past question papers, mark schemes and examiners' reports are available on the qualification page.

These are kept locked for the first nine months after an examination series and you will require an Edexcel Online username and password to gain access.

Feedback on the summer 2019 exam series is available as a pre-recorded training session.

'R' papers

You may have noticed that the list of exam materials for June 2019 includes two sets of papers. For example there is a Paper 1 and there is also a Paper 1R. 'R' papers are produced for different time zones.

What this means is that you have an extra set of past exam papers you can use for mocks!

Exemplar material

To help you understand each of the command words, we have some exemplar candidate responses to the Sample Assessment Materials on the qualification page.  The accompanying commentary to each question has been written by a senior examiner.

In addition we have some exemplars taken from the 2019 papers, also with examiner commentaries.

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Examiners' reports

Examiners' reports are a useful way of understanding the standard that has been applied. You can see exemplar student answers to each question, with examiner comments and tips. Combining a reading of the examiners' reports with the mark schemes can provide useful insights.

There are extracts from the examiners' reports as they relate to the different command verbs below:

There is only one mark available for this question, therefore examiners do not expect candidates to write extensively. When only one factor is requested, stating two will not result in additional marks.

'Define' questions are only looking for a definition of the term. Candidates will not receive the mark for providing only an example. A 1-mark 'define' question does not require examples

'What is meant by' questions have two marks and require two parts in the explanation of the term.
No marks are awarded for examples.
A 2-mark question will normally need two items of information

There is only 1 mark for knowledge on ‘describe’ questions so do not give more than 1 type/reason/benefit/advantage/way/factor etc.

The second mark will always be for development of this, and not for a list of advantages etc.

For calculation questions, it is essential that the answer has the correct units or is to two decimal places (if specified).

Units are an important part of the answer so make sure you use the right ones (or none if appropriate, such as when calculating elasticity). Do not ignore the minus sign when calculating elasticity

If the figure is a negative you must ALWAYS show the minus sign, including in the calculation.

Marks are not awarded if the percentage sign is required but missing.

It is recommended that you always show your working in a 'calculate' question.


Marks are awarded for:
• A leftward shift in supply, which has been labelled (1)
• The labelled new equilibrium price (1)
• Quantity on the axes (1)
3 marks

You must label the new shift and the new equilibrium points to gain marks.

Do not shift both curves as this will not show understanding of the scenario in the question and will score zero.

There are NO marks for definitions on ‘explain’ questions. They require a reason/benefit etc, which is in context and developed, for all three marks.

There is one AO2 mark for ‘explain’ questions, meaning that the answer needs to be put in context in order to receive full marks. Make sure your response is in context and relates to the information given in the stem and question. Generic responses will receive a maximum of 2 marks

There is no set number of points required on any levels-based question, but each point made needs to be developed to move up through the levels.

Candidates should not present a counter argument for 'analyse' questions. There are no marks for doing this and it will result in less time to spend on other questions. 'Analyse' questions do not require evaluation. marks cannot be awarded for evaluation on a 6-mark question.


  • One-sided arguments only are needed for 'analyse' questions.
  • Focus on developing applied points to present a strong analysis of the situation.
  • Focus on developing each applied chain of reasoning, rather than listing several separate points.

Assess questions require a balanced two-sided argument which is applied. There is no requirement for a conclusion or judgement but the argument(s) and counter argument(s) presented should be developed and thorough. Simply copying the extract or re-writing parts of it is not going to lead to high marks! Although no conclusion is needed, it is important to provide balance between the arguments in order to score high marks on ‘assess’ questions.

High level arguments need to use the evidence, rather than repeat it, to present arguments that are applied to the question. If there is data available in graphs and charts it should be used to help contextualise the response.

A supported conclusion/judgement is needed for 'evaluate' questions.

A well-structured evaluation offers more than one viewpoint and comes to a conclusion.

For the conclusion, do not just repeat earlier points but consider what it depends on or how effective a course of action will be.

There are more than enough lines for a response to achieve full marks and it is quality of the evaluation not quantity, that is necessary to achieve Level 3.

The command word 'evaluate' requires a two-sided argument in order to achieve full marks. The 'evaluate' question also requires a judgement/conclusion.

Quantitative Skills will be tested throughout the paper. These may be in the form of diagrams/graphs, calculations or using the data in the extracts, to provide the application in the questions.

Quantitative skills will be assessed in both Paper 1 and Paper 2, totalling 10% of the marks available for the qualification. Questions involving quantitative skills will always be in context.

The quantitative skills to be assessed are listed in Appendix 3 of the specification.

Application marks will not be awarded simply for repeating evidence in the extracts. The evidence needs to be used in the response

Application can either be the:
• use of the data in the question or
• application of the economic concepts

The use of relevant evidence is required throughout and this can be from the extracts provided or using examples provided by the candidates themselves. The extracts are there for a reason: please use them.

Grade boundaries

A grade boundary is the minimum mark at which a numbered grade (between 9 and 1) can be achieved.

International GCSE (9-1) qualifications are linear, and only the maximum mark and grade boundaries for the overall qualification are available in this table. These are given in raw marks.

Notional grade boundaries

Paper 1 and Paper 2 each have a raw mark out of 80. Grade boundaries are set at qualification level (adding together the raw marks for Papers 1 and 2) and not for each paper. However for teachers, the notional component grade boundaries can be a useful indicator of performance when papers are used in the future for mocks.

    Max Mark 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
May 2019 4EC1 160 108 99 90 82 75 68 57 46 36 0
May 2019 4EC1R 160 106 98 90 83 76 70 58 47 36 0
Jan 2020 4EC1 160 111 99 88 80 73 66 55 45 35 0
Jan 2020 4EC1R 160 110 100 90 83 77 71 59 47 35 0
    Max Mark 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
May 2019 Paper 1 80 54
Paper 2 80 54
Paper 1R 80 54 49 45 42 39 36 30 25 20 0
Paper 2R 80 54 49 45 41 37 34 28 22 16 0
Jan 2020 Paper 1 80 55 49 44 40 37 34 28 23 18 0
Paper 2 80 55 49 44 40 36 32 27 22 17 0
Paper 1R 80 57 51 46 42 39 36 30 24 18 0
Paper 2R 80 59 49 44 41 38 35 29 23 17 0

Grade statistics

Grade statistics are reported separately for UK and overseas centres. The statistics below are for overseas centres only. They show:

  • the total number of candidates
  • the cumulative percentage of candidates at each grade boundary as a percentage of the total cohort
4EC1 Number of candidates 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 U
May 2019 5339
Jan 2020 477 3.8% 10.5% 20.1% 29.8% 38.8% 46.3% 64.2% 75.7% 87.8% 100%
May 2020 4907 23.4% 41.1% 58% 71.4% 82% 89.5% 94.6% 97% 98.4% 100%

Subject advisor

Colin Leith

Business and Economics
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Colin Leith, Business and Economics subject advisor

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