Sometimes, the best way to achieve the desired result is by watching a role model perform the task.

To wit, babies develop skills by imitating their caregivers’ expressions and gestures, and ultimately their speech and movements, until they can walk and talk on their own.

A child’s mimicking doesn’t stop there! Soon, little ones are simulating cleaning house, cooking and caring for their charges – even if those ‘babies’ are made of plastic and/or plush.

This phenomenon exists at all levels of society: primary school teachers hold exemplary students’ conduct as the standard for others’ behaviour (everybody, do as Dylan is doing!), workers study successful colleagues to copy what they do right or well, and even parents borrow from their peers.

In the case of academia, the same effect is realised by reviewing former students’ efforts.

If you are planning to sit your A-Levels in Economics, looking at past papers is a vital step in your preparations.

You should also study the exam’s syllabus!

Not only will you get an idea of the format and the type of questions you could expect to see, but you can use them to test your knowledge and build your confidence so that you too will be able to complete the exam within the prescribed time limit.

Going over past papers helps to define your study strong points, and where your knowledge base still needs a little work.

Suppose that, in all of your exam fervour, you are unaware that you have principles of macroeconomics nailed but are struggling in microeconomic theory.

Reviewing past exams, you may find that you breeze right through the sections dealing with macroeconomics while the questions that address microeconomics sends you back to your textbooks and notes for possible clues to the correct answer.

An essential competency of being an economist is being able to conduct quantitative analysis.

In subjecting your stores of knowledge in economic theory to such scrutiny, you will soon realise that you could forgo any further macroeconomic review and focus on that which you do not yet have mastered – perhaps econometrics, or international economics.

Besides, you may find information on past exams that you’ve not devoted sufficient study time to!

Now that you have the materials to do so, you might have a go...

Wait... you don’t have the materials yet. Let’s go find past papers now, shall we?

Which Past Papers?

Pick and choose which past papers to study from which agency
Fortunately, you have a choice of materials from which to study market economies and expenditures! Source; Pixabay Credit: Geralt

Before we divulge where you can find past papers for your upcoming A-Levels ordeal, we have to know which exam you will sit.

More specifically, which entity will be administering your exam.

Years ago, students of applied economics might have had an advantage over today’s student of economic activity in that the only place for them to find review materials for their exams was at their campus library.

Or by engaging in study with tutors of economics...

There might have been a few copies of past exams in the reference section that they could copy and take back to their dorms.

Or, they could study development economics and political economy in that quiet hall, surrounded by books and other dedicated classmates.

Not too long ago, specific examination boards were limited by geography.

Each organization administered exams exclusively in their assigned regions. Correspondingly, each institution's department of economics kept copies of those exams for future reference and review, as well as their accompanying syllabi.

Since the UK’s Curriculum 2000 education reform initiative, every institute in the UK that administers the AS and A2 tests today may select their exam from any of the five awarding bodies:

  • Edexcel: also known as Pearson-London examiners, the only privately owned examination board in the UK

  • AQA: a registered charity that is government regulated but independently operated

    • the qualifications exams and syllabi are under government oversight!

  • OCR: the parent entity of Cambridge International Examinations

  • WJEC: established in Wales in 1948, it is now a registered charity providing examinations and educational resources

  • CCEA: a non-departmental public body of the Northern Ireland Department of Education

Scotland schools deliver career-defining exams to their students as well. They are called Highers and Advanced Highers, and they are administered by SQA, or Scottish Qualifications Authority.

As that body is only prevalent in its country of origin, we will focus on the exams more relevant to the greater UK.

Most likely, you will be told which exam you will sit, and you might be tempted to review only that awarding body’s archival documents.

In light of that, your Superprof mentors urge you to diversify your studies. 

You don't have to spend hours studying in the library!
Students of yesteryear had no other option than rigorous study at the library Source: Pixabay Credit: Kmicican

AQA and Edexcel Economics Past Papers

Let’s say you know AQA is your facility’s exam administrator. Naturally, you would want to peruse everything you can of that testing body’s past Economics exams: specimen papers, question papers, the marking schemes and examiner reports.

There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with that; the only concern would be that you are keeping your focus intentionally narrow in an attempt to earn high marks on your exam.

Isn’t earning high marks the goal of every test taker?

Let’s put our point into perspective.

These days, there is a lot of criticism levied on schools and teachers because they allegedly limit their instruction and classroom materials to only what is expected to be on the standardised exams.

You may know this practice better by its more common name, the phrase teaching to the test.

Parents and students alike resent having pupils’ academic curiosity curtailed to the few subjects featured on the exam, and only gaining a limited understanding of the subject matter in question.

There is ample empirical evidence that teachers don’t like having to teach to the test, either: they would rather teach to students!

The end effect is that test takers statistically score better on the exams, but come time to apply their knowledge in real-life situations, they find themselves woefully unequal to the task, and not through their fault.

This is what is known as an unintended consequence: a downside or negative by-product of a generally desirable situation.

You may run into Campbell’s law, and perhaps even discuss the cobra effect when you learn about unintended consequences within the framework of economics!

To avoid such a narrow coursework focus in preparation for your Economics exam, we urge you to take a look at materials provided by other examiners.

Besides, those extra examples of past exams would neatly round out your arsenal of revision materials, wouldn’t they?

Earlier in this article, we stated that the student of Yore was a lucky one indeed!

Not only were all of his test papers in one central location, but they were administered, year after year, by the same entity.

You, on the other hand, could confront any exam from any administrative body come test day, with the possible exception exams from the SQA.

Unless you live in Scotland, in which case, that would be your main administrative body.

And worse: what if you are up for a resit of your Economics exam and, this time, you will be exposed to OCR’s programme instead of AQA’s?

All of the exams are fundamentally the same.

Still, some of the questions are formulated a bit differently from one exam to the next, and some exams call for more maths while others don’t want to you to write out any equations or draw any graphs.

The aim of reviewing past exam papers is to prepare you to correctly respond to any question, put to you by any entity.

Interpreted that way, doesn’t it just make sense to examine all of the materials available?

Don't spend too much time searching for past papers; let Superprof help!
Spending too much time searching for A-Levels past papers is counterproductive! Source: Pixabay Credit: GraphicMama_team

Finding Edexcel and AQA Past Papers

A-Levels exam takers of days past had their search for study materials restricted to their campus resources – and possibly tuition from one who might have been in possession of materials from another region.

You, on the other hand, have a comparative advantage: a world of knowledge and experience, right at your fingertips!

The Internet is a treasure trove of information; all you have to do is ask the right question, and a search for A-Levels Economics past papers reveals a multitude of hits.

In response to the laws of supply and demand, the papers most widely available to study are from Cambridge (the exam administered by OCR, called CIE – Cambridge International Exam) because that body has governance over the internationally administered exam.

However, if you look carefully, you will also find sites that promote past papers from other awarding bodies.

If you know which exam your school favours, you may choose to review it first.

You can also find past Edexcel papers, as well as those from AQA and WJEC.

You should be aware that some sites attach additional services for your consumption, usually for a fee.

The site Marked by Teachers is a case in point and, even though their prices are very reasonable, why would you pay for something that is available elsewhere for free?

On a more positive note, there are plenty of sites that offer a virtual economics tutor via tutoring and practice exercises, along with other A-Level revision material.

One other aspect of past papers you should be aware: all that we found are in PDF format. If you do not already have it, you should download the Adobe readerno worries, its free!

Now that you’re all set, you can find all of the past papers you need in this table.

Site NameWeb Address
(please copy and paste into your browser)
AQA past papers
OCR past papers
Edexcel past papers
WJEC/CBAC past papers
CCEA past papers
SQA past papers

Happy Studies! 

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.