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ECO 231W

Undergraduate Econometrics

The Final

To find the place and time of the Final, look in the calendar page.

The final has one material question, and one essay question. The material question is in the same style as in the midterms. In fact, most items will be the same or similar to the ones in the previous midterms. I may come up with a new question or two, but the previous midterms are really the best guide. I have no intention of surprising you. The material question is worth 70% of the exam grade.

The essay question gives you either a topic, or sometimes a specific research question. You are supposed to write how you would go about doing research on that topic. You can find an example essay question
here. The essay question is worth 30% of the exam grade. Here I give you more details and guidance which may be useful in preparing for the essay question in the exam.

Content: you must explain things in a fair amount of detail. For example, what would you be looking for on a data sets, and which problems do you expect to encounter? You must be specific. “I will check for measurement error in the most important variables” is better than not saying anything, but I’m really looking for “I am expecting a possible measurement error in ***, because of ***. I will try to establish if this is indeed the case by *** (describe action you will take, which can involve looking in the data, in the questionnaire, in the codebook, in another data set [what kind], in the literature [which literature]. You must think about it in the specific case). How will you try to solve it? Can you? How? Do you anticipate it will be basically impossible? What will you do in this case? Which bias do you expect?

Structure: I suggest that you prepare a clear essay structure in advance, where you are sure you will cover every aspect you must discuss in an organized manner. Give the matters their due importance. You are not repeating the last class, you are adapting it to an actual situation. For example, I told you there that you should check for sample selection at a certain point. It was just quick reminder. However, you must discuss this in some detail in the situation, give it a separate paragraph. Which type of sample selection? How do you suppose you will find that out in this specific case? What will you do, etc.

Style: there is no restriction to the size of the essay. We can’t avoid this: flow, style and grammar matter. We don’t particularly reward those, but indirectly we do. We do specifically reward the organization and clarity of your arguments.

I know that you must feel overwhelmed, and also perhaps scared at not knowing what will come. Don’t think this way, because it is not true. The final is not that different from the midterms, and you can prepare very well using the prep questions. The essay is in the same style: you know what to expect, you just don’t know the situation. Take a moment to appreciate the fact that although this course was indeed a lot of work, you can answer a question about how you would go about doing a research project on your own. One semester ago you would not be able to even start answering this question, and now you can go all the way in detail. In spite of all the worry about grades that fill most students’ minds a lot of the time, try to find some satisfaction in what you actually learned: no grade, no bad day, no bad luck is going to take this away from you. Good luck, though luck is hardly necessary.