Year 11 Prelim Economics Question Bank [Pt 1]: All The Prelim Essays Questions and Answers You’ll Ever Need

All the year 11 HSC preliminary essay questions and answers you'll ever need!

Xerxes Lopes

Xerxes Lopes

All-Rounder & 99.65 ATAR

Preliminary Exams can be super scary. These might be your first REAL exams where you actually care about results. But, do not fear, Project’s gotchu! This guide will detail the most successful tips, tricks and techniques you can use to ace your 11 eco exams!

20/20 Year 11 Economics Essays; What am I meant to write for 20 marks and a band 6…?

You can actually predict prelim economics essay questions!

As explained in our Complete Guide to Year 11 Economics, the syllabus is your most sacred document in year 11 economics. It tells you exactly WHAT you can be tested on, and HOW your teachers will assess it - this gets pretty useful when trying to predict and prepare for the 20 mark essay questions your school sets in exams.

Let’s take a look at the last part of the prelim economics syllabus for Topic 1 (Introduction to Economics):

This section is a perfect example of how you can predict essay questions for your upcoming assessment tasks. For the above syllabus dot points, the essay question you can derive is:

“Compare and contrast the Australian economy to a country in Asia” (20 marks)

In Year 11 preliminary economics, your syllabus tells you the EXACT ‘subtopics’ you need to base your body paragraph arguments on! In this case, the arguments in your essay would be based on the comparison in relation to:

  1. Economic growth
  2. Quality of life
  3. Employment & Unemployment
  4. Distribution of Income
  5. Environmental Sustainability
  6. The Role of Government in Health Care, Education and Social Welfare

Body Paragraph Structure

Now that we know what our 6 body paragraphs will be based on, let’s break down their general structure. One of the most familiar ways to write a body paragraph is the PEEL structure, so let’s apply it here:

  • Point - Provide a topic sentence that describes the similarity/difference in ONE of the 6 indicators between Australian and an Asian economy
  • Explain - Describe in brief theory WHY the Australian economy and the chosen Asian economy are similar OR differ in the indicator chosen
  • Evidence - Provide examples and statistics to support your theory of similarities or differences
  • Link - Reinforce your original point and link back the the keywords of the question

The Wow Factor

Any 20/20 economics essay also NEEDS some spicy content that differentiates you from your classmates. You won’t be able to find this content in the syllabus, so if you want to get that top band essay you’ll need to research it on your own. To get started, you can start researching the following broad categories under an essay topic:

  • Interesting theories; ones that build on the theory outlined in the syllabus and explained in your economics textbook
  • Niche arguments; that the average students wouldn’t think to include in a normal essay
  • Unique pieces of evidence; statistics & examples to support theory

Now let’s put these skills into practice with one of the arguments; Economic Growth (the wow factor has been bolded).

China’s economic growth performance tends to outstrip Australia’s growth performance due to their different economic structures. The historical shift in Australia to a post-industrial economy where the government focuses more on increasing standard of living, creating an opportunity cost which leads to a decrease in domestic growth. Evidently, Australia’s growth has averaged 3.2% per annum from 1991 to 2019. In comparison, China has retained an average 10% per annum growth rate during the same time period. This can be attributed to the structure of the Chinese economy around high levels of industrialisation and integration into the global economy; supported by the fact that the nation is the world’s largest manufacturer. The difference in economic structures can further be explained by Rostow’s stages of growth. Under this model, China would be placed in the ‘take-off’ stage, indicated by high manufacturing specialisation and investment levels, contributing to rapid, self-sustained economic growth. Conversely, Australia would be placed in the ‘the age of high mass consumption’ stage, indicated by greater focus towards their primary focus on economic development which trades off with economic growth, exemplified by a HDI of 0.944 (the 4th highest in the world in 2019).  Thus, due to differing economic structures and progress, China experiences higher growth levels than the Australian economy.

As you can see above, the 2 Es are interspersed throughout each other. If you want to have an economics essay that flows well, you need to be able to do this rather than sticking to ONE rigid structure throughout the whole response.

In short: implement PEEEEEL over PEEL for syllabus arguments and body paragraphs (and make sure to add some spice!).

Essay Question Bank

To help you ace prelim, we at Project Academy have provided a range of year 11 economics essay questions ALL derived from the syllabus below. Have a look through and see if you can identify which syllabus dot points the questions are taken from:

Topic 1 Introduction to Economics

  • Compare and contrast the Australian economy to a country in Asia (20)
  • Explain the economic problem. Examine the ways that the economic problem influences individuals, businesses and governments (20)

Topic 2 Consumers and Business

  • Examine the importance of factors that influence consumer choice (20)
  • Discuss the goals of firms, and the methods used to achieve these goals (20)
  • Analyse the factors that influence the decision-making of firms (20)

Topic 3 Markets

  • Explain how equilibrium price is determined. Discuss market forces that create disequilibrium and a rise in price (20)
  • Explain how market failure can occur. Examine the role of government intervention in preventing market failure (20)
  • Discuss the factors affecting the price elasticity of supply (20)
  • Discuss the factors affecting the price elasticity of demand (20)

Topic 4 Labour Markets

  • Analyse the factors affecting the demand for and supply of labour in the Australian economy (20)
  • Discuss arguments for and against a more equitable distribution of income from work (20)
  • Analyse the factors contributing to differences in income from work in the Australian economy (20)
  • Analyse and account for trends in Australia’s labour market (20)
  • Examine the role of Australia’s labour market institutions in the industrial relations system (20)

Topic 5 Financial Markets

  • Examine the contribution of financial markets to the economic welfare of individuals and firms in the Australian economy (20)
  • Examine the role of regulatory institutions in Australia’s financial markets (20)
  • Explain the role of the Reserve Bank of Australia in manipulating the cash rate. Examine the impact of a cash rate decrease on the Australian economy. (20)

Topic 6 Government and the Economy

  • Explain the limitations in the operation of the free market and the need for government intervention (20)
  • Assess the effectiveness of fiscal policy in achieving the economic functions of the Australian government (20)
  • Assess the effectiveness of monetary and fiscal policy in stabilising fluctuations in economic activity (20)

Your Prelim Economics Formula Sheet

From the questions we just deconstructed you might’ve realised that there are ALOT of formulas required in preliminary economics. To ensure you don’t lose a single mark in these 1 markers, it’s highly recommended that you make your own formula sheet throughout year 11. Here are some important things to include:

  • The Equation - using a different font or style will help you break up your formula sheet better
  • Types of Questions - Try to list out the types of questions that can come up when using that formula. This will help you identify the formula required for MCQs a lot quicker in exam situations.
  • Question Examples - Make sure to include question type examples and a fully deconstructed answer. You will learn lots of formulae over 9 months, so if you forget one from early on or how to use it, an exemplary answer with an explanation will help you relearn it fast.

Go smash those year 11 economics exams!
Ultimately, your year 11 economics exams aren’t going to be hard if you understand the techniques that can push you to that top band. We hope this gave you a better idea on how to approach the different types of questions in your exams! Good luck for prelims!

This article is part one of Project Academy’s Year 11 Economics Practice Exam Bank Series.

If you need any help with economics, come sign up to my classes at Project Academy!


Q: What topics are there in Year 11 Economics?

There are 6 topics in Year 11 Economics, including:

  1. Introduction to Economics
  2. Consumers and Business
  3. Markets
  4. Labour markets
  5. Financial markets
  6. Government and the Economy

Q: Is Year 12 Economics similar to Year 11 Economics?

Similar to most Year 12 courses, HSC Economics builds on the foundational skills and knowledge taught in Year 11. Moving into Year 12, we focus on how the concepts of consumers, businesses, governments, and markets apply to a larger, macroeconomic scale; the Australian Economy & the Global Economy as a whole.

Q: How can I find more practice papers for Year 11 Economics?

To find more practice papers for Year 11 Economics, ask around! Ask your teachers, friends who’ve completed the subject already and friends from other schools. If you’re still looking for practice, Project Academy offers over 300 past papers in addition to homework exam-style questions assigned each week according to the syllabus.

Q: What are the best Economics textbooks?

Most schools will use one of two textbooks, either:

  • Tim Riley’s “Year 11 Economics” Textbook
  • Tim Dixon’s and John Mahoney’s “The Market Economy” Textbook

In year 12, both publishers produce textbooks as well:

  • Tim Riley’s “Year 12 Economics” Textbook
  • Tim Dixon’s and John Mahoney’s “Australia in the Global Economy Textbook”

Both textbooks are sufficient, but Riley tends to add extension information and concepts that build upon syllabus content. If you’re looking for something simple, use Dixon. 

Q: Overall, is it hard to achieve a Band 6 in HSC Economics?

Year 11 and year 12 Economics can be hard at times, but staying on top of content, theories, policies, and contemporary information is your gateway to doing well.

Of course it isn’t as simple as that when it comes to achieving a band 6. If you want to be in that top band you’ll need to focus on smashing that final exam, section-by-section. If you break down your preparation according to the syllabus (both by content tested and how it can be tested as I’ve done above), you will achieve amazing exam results.

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