Step Five – Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation

IB Economics.

If you want top grades in your coursework, you need to be able to prove skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Commentaries that just describe or restate the information in the article, tend to get low marks. These skills are difficult to do and take time and practice to acquire.

What is analysis? When you analyze something, you look at it in a lot of detail, you break it down into it’s component parts and try and make links or connections between the different parts.

What is synthesis? A summary of the available information that you have – describing or explaining a complex thing in a shorter, more easily understood way.

Evaluation involves looking at something in a critical way and coming up with your own opinion on it, backed up by sufficient evidence.

All of the above skills are difficult to do, but evaluation is probably the hardest. What could you evaluate in your commentary?

    • An economic situation, policy or strategy.
    • Economic data
    • Economic theories

How can you do this when writing your commentary?

  1. Critically assess the article. Is it biased? Does the writer leave out important information that you think should be included? Are the writer’s conclusions appropriate?
  2. What are the advantages / disadvantages of the policies outlined in the article? What are the most important advantages and the most important disadvantages?
  3. What are the short and long-term consequences of the economic strategies outlined in the article? Which groups (stakeholders) in the economy benefit and why? Which lose out and why?
  4. What are the causes of the economic situation / consequences of the economic policies outlined in the article? Which are the most important causes and consequences and why? What are the remedies?
  5. If there is data in the article, is it appropriate, reliable, relevant and accurate?
  6. When using an economic theory, demonstrate a critical awareness of the theory. Explain the assumptions behind the theory. Are the assumptions realistic? Is the theory relevant and appropriate to the economic situation outlined in the article?

You should analyze, synthesize and evaluate throughout your commentary, but the evaluation should probably occur more towards the end of your commentary, just before your concluding paragraph (see the commentary structure diagram in Step Three – Writing Up Your Commentary ). In your concluding paragraph, you express your opinion, which finalizes your evaluation in the commentary.

Plant leaf, Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil.
Plant leaf, Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil.