Economics | Pearson qualifications


Subject update | 15 May 2024

GCE Economics A: assessment support

GCE Economics A: assessment support

The purpose of this page is to help you understand our assessment of GCE Economics A.

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There is a sister page to help you in the delivery of this qualification.

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

These are kept locked for the first 9 months after an examination series and you will require an Edexcel Online username and password to be able to gain access.

There are two recorded feedback events from the summer 2019 exam series, one for Papers 1 and 2, and the other event for Paper 3.


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ResultsPlus is an online results analysis tool that gives you a detailed breakdown of your students’ performance in Pearson Edexcel exams.

ResultsPlus provides detailed analysis of your learners' performance and will help you to identify potential topics, skills and types of questions where students may need to develop their learning further. Whilst there hasn’t been a typical examination series for a while, you may find it helpful to understand how your students’ performance compares with class and Pearson Edexcel national averages and to gather some insight data that may support effective teaching and learning approaches. Find out more about ResultsPlus.

Many centres will be focused on delivering mock exams this term and using those mock exam results to inform intervention and revision. The ResultsPlus Mock analysis service can help you get the most from that data.  

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:

Ensure you make use of a calculator and double check that your fi nal answer makes sense.

Be careful to clearly identify your final answer.

It is always worth showing your workings. This does not need to take a lot of time and can help you pick up a mark if human error creeps into your fi nal calculation.

Make sure you know key formulas, such as how to calculate the multiplier.

There is no need to write anything for these questions - just draw the diagram.

When drawing diagrams candidates should always double-check that the lines and axes are correctly labelled.

Draw diagrams clearly and large enough to be easy to interpret.

In Paper 2, the main reason for candidates scoring 3/4 marks as opposed to 4/4 marks is labelling the vertical axis as price rather than price level.

For shifts in supply and demand consider the non-price determinants as identifi ed in the data. Do not confuse shifts in supply with extensions in supply.

Practice pay-off matrix diagrams and ensure there is a clear logic in the numbers as to what fi rms are doing and why this is rational behaviour.

The breakdown of marks for a Paper 3, 5-mark question is 2 K, 2 Ap and 1An.

Remember to make at least one analytical chain of reasoning. The examiner is looking for brevity and clarity, and one clear step inthe reasoning, e.g. 'because', 'leads to', 'allows for'.

Two application marks are always available.

In this question the marks are evenly divided between knowledge, application, analysis, and evaluation (2 marks for each). Candidates need to offer some evaluation of their answer. Two correct factors explained in context are required. Two small pieces of evaluation or one more developed point is all that is required. Without evaluation answers are limited to 6/8 marks.

Candidates should not spend too much time on long introductions. Marks will only be awarded for the explanation and evaluation of the measures/factors so candidates should start immediately with the first measure.

We only award application marks for data/contextual references which actually support the point being made. Make eff ective use of the data. 2 marks are always reserved for application on 8 mark responses.

If you are asked for causes, reasons, effects or similar, then there is no good reason to define the key terms. On short questions such as this the knowledge marks are for identifying the causes and there are no definition marks.

The best responses show a very clear structure to the answer, with two points identified, explained and with context quoted from the extracts before providing one or two evaluation points. This structure really helps the examiners follow a candidate’s answer.

Making effective use of supply and demand diagrams can help lock in knowledge and analysis marks or may provide a way into evaluation.

Do not spend a long time on the 8 mark questions. 8 minutes should be the maximum and a shorter time can produce full marks.

Keep the 8 mark questions short, but follow the pattern 'point', 'explain', 'example', 'evaluate' twice over. This method enables evenhalf a page of writing to earn 8/8 marks.

There are examples of candidate responses scoring full marks in the following examiners' reports:

2017 Paper 1 and Paper 3; 2018 Paper 3; 2019 Paper 1; 2019 Paper 1; October 2020 Paper 1; 2022 Paper 1, Paper 2, and Paper 3; 2023 Paper 1 and Paper 2

The starting point is to check the descriptors for these questions - this is what the examiners are required to do when assessing answers. The key point is that the quality of the response is more important than a specific number of points. That quality depends on factors such as chains of reasoning, application to context, integration of diagrams into the written analysis and a coverage of the key elements of the question. Candidates should be discouraged from writing 7 or 8 brief paragraphs covering a variety of issues at a superficial level. In the absence of other instructions, the following guidance shows possible ways to structure a response for each descriptor'

Second, scrutinising the mark schemes and Examiner Reports for these papers will provide much useful guidance.

Questions could be answered with one key point as KAA and one key point as EV if a substantial point is made.

Example: so China is better than Japan … = KAA and then China is not better than Japan … = EV (or vice versa)

Another approach is KAA EV KAA EV but an overall judgment is not required

One substantial point is enough assuming it demonstrates an understanding of the concept in context, is fully integrated and answers the broad element of the question (perhaps connecting mini points well applied). This, followed by one substantial applied evaluative point, which answers the broad elements of the question through a coherent chain of reasoning, is sufficient to obtain full marks on one page.

Of course where a 10 mark question requires candidates to assess two reasons or effects then there is a requirement to move beyond substantially evaluating one major point.

A purely theoretical answer which is not applied to the context or does not refer to the data cannot achieve Level 3 for KAA.

Try to evaluate in context.

There are examples of candidate answers which scored full marks in both the Paper 1 and Paper 2 2017 examiners' reports.

The 2019 Examiners' Reports included the following examples:

Paper 1 (9EC01)
• example of a 6/10 response with commentary
• example of a 9/10 response with commentary
• examiner tip: Try to ensure evaluation is not on the brief side. A safe approach to this would be to evaluate each reason separately.

Paper 2 (9EC02)
• example of a 8/10 response with commentary
• examiner comment about the 8/10 response: Note that this is a fairly brief answer, yet the candidate has done a good job of accurately answering the question and so it still scores highly.
• example of a 5/10 response with commentary. This example has good KAA and no evaluation

Full mark answers can be found in the following examiners' reports: 2022 Paper 1; 2023 Paper 1 and Paper 2


For a 12 mark question there are only 2 levels of evaluation, two brief points or one well-made point can reach the top of Level 2 evaluation.

There is no need to define concepts.  Examiners are not assessing you on your ability toremember definitions, but on your understanding of economics and your ability to see links between economic concepts.

Candidates need to remember that depth is more important than breadth in levels-marked questions such as this: make fewer different points but develop them more fully, and explain and apply them.

There are examples of candidate answers which scored full marks in all three 2017 examiners' reports and a further example in the 2018 Paper 3 report.

The 2019 Examiners' Reports included the following:

Paper 1 (9EC01)
• example of a 7/12 response with commentary
• example of a 11/12 response with commentary
• examiner tip: Ensure you provide a clear diagram, when asked, with additional annotations that help you answer the question set.

Paper 2 (9EC02)
• example of a 6/12 response with commentary
• example of a high scoring response with commentary. This example has top levels for KAA and evaluation
• examiner tip: Don't forget to relate your answer to the real world - either making use of the information provided in the figures and extracts or your own knowledge.

Candidate answers scoring full marks can be found in the following examiners' reports: 2022 Paper 1; 2022 Paper 2; 2022 Paper 3; 2023 Paper 1

If the question is in the singular e.g., effect, impact, outcome (for example 2019 9EC0 01 6c and June 2022 9EC0 03 1c), candidates are usually asked for a DIAGRAM + KAA paragraph (fully analysing their diagram) + EV paragraph (including 2 developed points in the EV paragraph).

If the question is in the plural e.g., reasons, effects, costs, then 2 KAA and 2 EV should be sufficient but there is no averaging of scores so if a third point is added and is weaker there will not be any reduction - positive marking only and the highest level possible is awarded, if maintained.

In the 15 mark responses a limited number of points (typically two substantial points) evaluated in depth would be sufficient to access top levels rather than the legacy specification approach where a specific number of points were required. A large number of points evaluated at each step can create a rather disjointed response which lacks integration or clear chains of reasoning.

Conclusions are not needed in these questions.

There are examples of high scoring candidate answers in the following examiners' reports:

2017 Paper 1 (15/15); 2018 Paper 1 (14/15); 2019 Paper 1 (14/15);
2019 Paper 2 (top level answer)

For 25-mark essays it is unlikely that an answer would be 'balanced' by covering one KAA and one EV only. However, an answer with 4 or more KAA points and 4 or more EV would be very likely to be superficial. Each point is marked according to the levels, and once a level is sustained (that is, two clear examples) then the level is awarded.

To achieve Level 4 analysis candidates need to offer a depth of thinking which is best secured with two, or three, major points rather than attempting to do so through a wide range of points.

Definitions are not required (unless specifically requested in a question) but they are a useful way to keep the answer focused on the question.

Application - full marks cannot be accessed when the answer does not consider carefully the context of the question and data available. Try to fully integrate theory and context in both KAA and evaluation to guarantee top level marks.

Marks are lost when candidates don’t accurately interpret data in different statistical formats. Quantitative skills are a vital skill in the new exams and candidates need to be practising looking at graphs/charts and being able to explain what they show.

Analysis - the Level 4 Knowledge, Application and Analysis descriptor states that there needs to be "logical and coherent chains of reasoning". This contrasts to the Level 2 descriptor which describes a "two-stage chain of reasoning only".

Candidates should use relevant diagrams to explain their analysis. If candidates are going to use a diagram they should ensure that it is fully labelled and used in context. Evaluation also needs to be well balanced to offer an alternative viewpoint to the one already made.

You can get Level 4 by using just one micro and one macro factor, if both are valid. Fewer points done well and in context, with diagrams, makes a good strategy for 25-mark questions.

Try to avoid narrow responses or superfi cial answers by practising going beyond two stage chains of reasoning. Do so both for developing your point (KAA) and evaluation.

Candidates should practise offering informed judgements, being critical of the underlying assumptions in economic theory and recognising different viewpoints, as they respond to the essay-based optional question. Candidates should practise making answers contextual, and extend their chains of reasoning. It is clearly better to use a few points well, with data from the extracts, rather than trying to use all the policies and examples that could be used.

Level 1 evaluation (L1e) does not go beyond the generic or thin opportunity cost or magnitude type response. For top level evaluation (L3e) in the essays, 'informed judgement' is required – many candidates attempt this as a conclusion with mixed success – highly effective responses are critical of the assumptions underlying the theory initially put forward and are able to recognise different viewpoints in coming to their own clear judgement.

Ensure you are evaluating what you have written in the context of the question set. Top level evaluation displays relevant reasoning and appropriate reference to context as well as being critical of the evidence.

Centres may wish to practise getting candidates to evaluate what they have already written as their substantial point and to critically evaluate the knowledge, chains of reasoning and data as a means of developing their evaluation. This will also help them to access top level essay evaluation (L3e) in the essays where ‘sustained judgement’ is required. Candidates would benefit from attempting to weigh up theory and the sufficiency of the data as they write, to offer clear and sustained judgement.

Given time constraints it is only necessary to write two well developed paragraphs to achieve full marks for KAA.  Each should then be evaluated separately, so it is clear where the evaluation begins. Good signposting makes it easier for the examiner to follow your arguments and will keep you focused on the question. A conclusion is always necessary to make a justified judgement and therefore enables you to score full marks.  Quality in your answer always surpasses quantity. Write a few points really well, and extend the chains of reasoning to make points that you could read in a quality news report.  

A judgement is expected to get the very top marks for evaluation on the 25 mark question. The tendency is to make a summary at the end. What is needed, however, is an informed judgement. The difference is critical. Candidates are too often just summarising/repeating their points in their conclusions, rather than making a reasoned judgement. Without this, candidates are able to achieve a Level 3 score for evaluation, but not to be awarded full marks.

If the question states 'With reference to an industry of your choice', to achieve Level 4 candidates must refer to a specific industry in their answer and must ensure that most of the response is focussed on one industry.

In Paper 3 candidates should observe how a micro influence is also linked to a macro influence. Write an informed, critical conclusion weighing up your argument, not a summary. Return to the question and answer it - avoiding the personal pronoun is preferred - in an informed and reasoned framework.

In Paper 3, make at least one micro and one macro point. If you have more time then develop the side you think is the weakest with another more convincing point. It is better to make fewer points really well argued than using a scattered approach with several relevant thoughts.

There are examples of top level candidate answers in the following examiners' reports:

2018 Paper 1 (21/25 and 25/25); 2018 Paper 3 (22/25 and 25/25); 2019 Paper 1 (20/25); 2019 Paper 2 (top level); 2022 Paper 1 (24/25); 2022 Paper 2 (22/25 and 23/25); 2022 Paper 3 (22/25); 2023 Paper 1 (25/25) and Paper 3 (23/25).

Grade boundaries and statistics

Grade boundaries

The A level maximum mark is 335 as this reflects the different weightings of the three A level papers. All three papers are out of 100 but Papers 1 and 2 have a 35% weighting whereas Paper 3 has a 30% weighting. This means that the marks you see are adjusted marks and not raw marks.

The conversion works by multiplying Paper 1 and 2 marks by 1.1725 and the Paper 3 mark by 1.005.

Notional grade boundaries

Notional grade performance at component level plays no part in the determination of a qualification grade.

For teachers, the notional component grade boundaries can be useful as an indicator of grade performance when, for example, an examination paper is used as a future mock examination.

Grade statistics

The grade statistics in the table below show:
• the total number of candidates
• the cumulative percentage of candidates at each grade boundary as a percentage of the total cohort

  Maximum mark A* A B
2017 335
261 230 199 168 137 107 0
2018 335
261 234 205 176 147 119 0
2019 335
268 240 209 178 148 118 0
Oct 2020 335 256 227 189 151 113 75 0
Oct 2021 335 250 221 184 147 111 75 0
2022 335 262 235 199 163 127 92 0
2023 335 273 245 211 177 143 110 0
  Paper 1
A* A B
2017 100 79 70 61 52 43 34 0
2018 100 77 69 60 51 42 34 0
2019 100 80 72 62 53 44 35 0
Oct 2020 100 77 68 56 44 33 22 0
Oct 2021 100 72 64 53 42 32 22 0
2022 100 78 70 59 48 37 27 0
2023 100 82 74 63 53 43 33 0
  Paper 2
A* A B
2017 100 76 67 57 48 39 30 0
2018 100 77 69 60 51 43 35 0
2019 100 82 73 63 54 45 36 0
Oct 2020 100 77 68 56 45 34 23 0
Oct 2021 100 75 66 55 44 33 23 0
2022 100 79 71 60 49 38 28 0
2023 100 81 72 62 52 42 32 0
  Paper 3
A* A B
2017 100 78 69 59 50 41 32 0
2018 100 77 69 60 51 43 35 0
2019 100 78 70 61
52 43 35 0
Oct 2020 100 76 67 55 44 33 22 0
Oct 2021 100 77 68 56 44 33 22 0
2022 100 77 69 58 47 37 27 0
2023 100 81 73 63 53 43 34 0

The grade statistics in the table below show:
• the total number of candidates
• the cumulative percentage of candidates at each grade boundary as a percentage of the total cohort

  Number of candidates A* A B
2017 10695 9.2% 35.4% 64.8% 85.4% 95.3% 98.6% 100%
2018 11991 9.3% 34.5% 65.0% 85.5% 94.9% 98.5% 100%
2019 12184 8.3% 32.5% 63.5% 84.6% 94.7% 98.3% 100%
June 2020 (CAGs) 13146 15.3% 43.8% 72.8% 92.1% 98.2% 99.8% 100%
October 2020 271 7% 26.2% 60.5% 83.8% 92.6% 96.3% 100%
June 2021 (TAGs) 14616 21% 49.3% 75.3% 90.8% 97% 99.6% 100%
October 2021 110 10% 24.5% 55.5% 83.6% 94.5% 99.1% 100%
2022 16602 15.2% 40.5% 70% 87.9% 95.8% 98.7% 100%
2023 17979 8.2% 31.1% 62.2% 82.7% 94% 98.1% 100%

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