Economics or Business Management?


Many people, including me, came to year 5 trying to figure out whether to do Economics or B&M. I took both Economics HL and B&M SL in the end, so I’ll tell you what I think and leave you to decide for yourself. There is no short answer!

A brief intro to economics – have you seen newspaper headlines along the lines of “Singapore’sGDP slows to 2.3% this quarter”? In Economics you will understand what these articles are talking about. Economics is learning about prices and the way markets work. The scope of Economics is on a predominantly national and international level – it’s more macro.

For B&M, it’s about the individual decisions of companies. You’ll learn about the different types of companies, how they operate and the decisions that they have to make with respect to costs,manpower, advertising etc. The main question  which is more work? Exam wise there is much to cover either way, last minute all-nighters are a big no-no. In general, Economics is more conceptual, and B&M is more common sensical. You could go into the B&M exam knowing the bare minimum and escape with a 5 or 6 purely on logic (also because the exam includes case study material that you can use) but the same can’t be said about economics. That being said, I think it’s easier to score for Economics once you know your stuff.

The Internal Assessments (IAs) for Economics are very short – 650 words is really not much, but you need to do 4 IAs over 2 years, and the best 2 are selected. B&M has only 1 IA of 1500 words (2500 for HL i think), and I had a lot of fun doing that one large project over the December holidays. Both are 20%, and I personally enjoyed the B&M IA more even though it needed more work.

You have to consider whether you’re taking the subject at the higher or standard level. The difference between HL and SL Econs is evident, maybe 20%, but not substantial. In fact, I believe that the Paper 3 component of the HL exam (the math paper) helps you to score higher! Many SL students end up studying some HL stuff in order to understand what is going on. In contrast, the difference between HL and SL B&M is considerably greater – perhaps 40% more content for HL B&M. The B&M HL kids have an hour longer for one of their papers, and as a general rule B&M SL students need not learn any HL content to do well for the exam. The additional content for B&M HL is very interesting though, and you will grow to become fond of it. You may also want to consider where this subject fits with respect to your other subjects. If you’re deciding on a very content heavy combination such as Bio Chem History for your HLs, you may want to consider a less content heavy B&M SL. On deciding on an HL, Econs is the better option in my opinion (but B&M HL kids may beg to differ).

If you’re choosing both subjects, I strongly advise you to take what I took – Econs HL and B&M SL, keeping in mind that you can’t take both at the same level. I felt that my combination gave me the best of both worlds, it was very balanced. In retrospect I thoroughly enjoyed both subjects, they were probably my favourite two! Interesting stuff!

Matthew Ryan is from the graduating batch of 2014.
*Editor’s note: Based on current information, the writer’s subject combination of taking 2 Group 3 Subjects (Economics and B&M) is no longer available to 2015’s Year 5 batch and onwards.
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