Key differences between H1 and H2 Economics

May 31, 2024


As you enter Junior College, you’ll need to make important decisions regarding the subjects you wish to pursue. Not only that but you are also faced with the question: “H1 or H2?” Not sure where the differences lie? Look no further, because, in this guide, Zenith will be discussing the key differences between H1 and H2 A Level Economics. At Zenith, we provide top quality JC Economics tuition for both H1 and H2 students. As the top Economics tuition centre, we’ve marked over hundreds of papers and have guided numerous students into achieving their coveted distinctions. In this article, we’re dishing out the key differences between H1 and H2 Economics to help you make an informed decision on which to choose if you’re still on the fence about it!

Exam Format

Once you’ve decided on your stream (Science or Arts), you’ll have to take a contrasting subject that is not within the discipline of your stream. In your chosen stream, three subjects will be taken at the H2 level while the contrasting subject should be taken at the H1 or H2 level. For instance, if you have chosen the Science track, your contrasting subject would likely be H1 Economics. With that being said, one of the main differences between H1 and H2 A Level Economics is the varying exam format. Let’s take a quick look at both to compare them! (Refer to Fig 1 & 2).

Fig 1. H1 Economics exam format
Fig 2. H2 Economics exam format

At a glance, we can see that at the H1 level, there is only one paper. On the other hand, at the H2 level, there are two papers to be completed instead. The additional examinable paper in the form of essay questions could be an important factor when making a decision. Being astute enough to tease out the exact question requirements and subsequently organising your essay well to cover all the main points are some key essay skills that a student must-have. If you are confident that you possess such skills or are able to learn and apply them through practice, pursuing Economics at the H2 level might seem more appealing, given that the essay paper is weighted at 60% of your final grade. But if you aren’t as confident in your essay skills, your best bet might be with the H1 Economics.

Another crucial consideration is mental stamina. In the H2 essay paper, students are given a choice on their third question after finishing two mandatory ones. This can be mentally draining for students and your ability to efficiently and coherently convey your points may diminish with time with low mental stamina. Given the higher weightage of essays, there will definitely be heavy implications for not performing well in that paper.

Lastly, another point that should be taken into account is that at the H1 level, 100% of your final grade is dependent on just one paper. This might be extremely stressful in comparison to H2, where the final grade is conveniently split up between two papers, with paper 1 carrying 40% and paper 2 carrying 60% of the entire weightage. While it is no excuse to underperform for either paper, there is still marginal room for error for H2 Economics because not all your eggs are in one basket! As for the H1 Economics paper, you only have one chance to secure that distinction.

Syllabi Differences

Fig 3. H1 Economics syllabus
Fig 4. H2 Economics syllabus

While both H1 and H2 A Level Economics may cover similar topics, there are differences between the content covered and the level of analysis expected from students.

  1. Content

With regards to content, the H2 syllabus covers fairly more. This section will detail the exact differences between the H1 and H2 syllabi, as taken from the 2022 H1 and H2 Economics SEAB Syllabus. From the figures above, we observe that “International Economy” is removed from the H1 syllabus. The following are also excluded from the H1 Macroeconomics syllabus:

Economics Content

  1. Circular flow of income as an interactive model involving households, firms, government and the foreign sector
  2. Multiplier effect of changes in aggregate demand
  3. Favourable balance of trade
  4. Macroeconomic issues, and their causes and consequences
  5. Supply-side policies to increase efficiency, remove barriers to competition and trade in product markets, giving incentives and encouraging enterprise

Concepts and Tools of Analysis

  1. Circular flow of income
  2. Multiplier effect
  3. Balance of trade surplus and deficit
  4. Current account of the balance of payments
  5. Short and long term capital flows
  6. Automatic stabilisers

Under Microeconomics, the following are omitted from the H1 syllabus:

Economics Content

  1. Determinants and significance of income and cross elasticities of demand
  2. Consumer and producer surplus
  3. Market dominance
  4. Information failure/imperfect information
  5. Factor immobility
  6. Government failure

Concepts and Tools of Analysis

  1. Income elasticity of demand
  2. Cross elasticity of demand
  3. Consumer and producer surplus
  4. Market dominance
  5. Information failure/Imperfect information
  6. Asymmetric information – moral hazard, adverse selection
  7. Factor immobility

Additionally, Firms and Decisions (Microeconomics) is completely removed from the H1 syllabus. As you may observe from Fig 5., Firms and Decisions is quite a bulky section that comprises a multitude of different theories and concepts. Firms and Decisions is also notorious for being one of the most popular topics tested during the A Level exams, so you must have a good foundation over it. However, if you ever face difficulties in your endeavours with this topic, do not be intimidated! At Zenith, the top Economics tuition centre, we have numerous crash courses throughout the year that cover a plethora of topics in an in-depth fashion (be it H1 or H2) to make sure you bag that distinction!

Fig 5. Firms and Decisions
  1. Analysis

Contrary to popular belief, the level of analysis required of a student taking H1 Economics is not any lower than that of H2 Economics! While the content demands of H1 Economics may not be as rigorous as compared to H2 Economics, a good foundation and critical thinking skills are just as important and required in both levels of study.

  1. Questions

To provide some examples of essay questions that can be tested, here are some A Level questions from recent years.

  1. “The standard of living is affected by a wide range of factors of which economic growth is one. Explain what determines the standard of living of an economy and discuss whether rapid economic growth will always lead to improvements in the standard of living.” (2017 A Levels)
  2. “Consumers and producers are generally assumed by economists to be motivated by self-interest. (2011 A Levels)
  3. Explain how, according to economists, the pursuit of self-interest can help to address the problem of limited resources and unlimited wants.
  4. Assess whether the price mechanism will always allocate scarce resources in the most efficient manner for all goods and services in a market economy.”

Confidence, Interests and Abilities

Another key determinant to help you arrive at your decision would be your level of confidence in taking an H2 subject and your ability to cope academically. Firstly, for most students fresh out of Secondary School, Economics is a subject, unlike anything that they would have touched on in Secondary School. The novelty and alterity of Economics may appeal to students who want to try something different from familiar subjects such as Chemistry or History. But it is important to consider your subject combination in a more practical way too — are you confident in taking Economics, a completely new subject at an H2 level? Looking at the differences between the H2 and H1 Economics syllabi, are you able to cope with the rigour and demands of A Level Economics at the H2 level? H2 subjects are worth 20 rank points while H1 subjects are worth 10. Naturally, if you feel less confident or are not willing to invest that much time in taking on a completely new subject, you should not take it as an H2 subject. This will be especially pertinent if you take 3 H2s and 1 H1; what are the trade-offs if you pursue Economics at an H2 level? Pragmatically, subjects you are more comfortable and confident in should be prioritised as your H2s!

Thinking about all of these different factors may seem overwhelming, markedly so as you grapple with the new environment and academic rigour of JC. However, do take the time to carefully consider which subject combination is best for you. A wise and carefully calculated decision at the start of your journey can tremendously help you down the road! If you’re still unclear, you can always contact us here for a free consultation where we’ll try to advise you better. If you’re reading this when you’ve already decided to take either H1 or H2 Economics and are struggling, sign up for a free trial class at Zenith! A Level Economics need not be a huge stress factor in your life. Our JC tuition classes will help streamline information for you and we’re here to support and guide you along throughout your 2 years in JC. Our student testimonials speak volumes about how effective our lessons are. Regardless, we hope that you’ve found this guide insightful. Zenith’s JC Economics tuition programme welcomes you here with open arms!