MA Economics Entrance Exams Preparation


A lot of people ask me similar questions regarding preparation for entrance exams for MA/MSc Economics in India. Through this post, I would like to provide a one-stop-shop for FAQs regarding entrance preparation.

Coaching or non-coaching?

The first question that comes to mind is whether to take coaching for entrance preparation. I would say it totally depends on your aptitude and level of motivation. If you believe you are self-motivated and can maintain the discipline, then by all means go ahead with self-preparation. One test that you could apply is to look through the past years’ entrance papers and see if you can solve at least 5-7 questions without any preparation, using intuition and prior knowledge.

That being said, there are benefits to coaching: one, it helps you maintain a regular study schedule; two, the tips and tricks as well as the test series provided by coaching institutes are quite helpful.

Books/Resources for Preparation

There are two kinds of resources that you can use: textbooks, and online resources. Both serve their own purpose. Let me list down subject-wise resources:-

  • Microeconomics

    • Textbooks
      Nicholson & Snyder; Hal Varian
    • Online Lectures
      YouTube channels of Ecopoint and Amit Goyal
  • Macroeconomics

    • Textbooks
      Dornbusch & Fischer; Blanchard
  • Maths

    • Textbooks
      Sydsaeter & Hammond
    • Online Lectures
      MIT Courseware (Prof. Gilbert Strang)
      3Blue1Brown (Linear Algebra)
      Eddie Woo (all YouTube channels)
  • Statistics

    • Textbooks
      Gujarati (Introductory Econometrics/ Basic Econometrics)
    • Online Lectures
      Statistics by Jim (Blog)
      Statquest (YouTube): Statistics Fundamentals playlist
  • Game Theory

    • Textbooks
      Osborne (introductory chapters)
    • Online Lectures
      William Spaniel (YouTube) Game Theory playlist (introductory videos)
    • Miscellaneous
      Resources: Khan Academy (YouTube)

The focus should be on conceptual clarity: depth rather than breadth of syllabus.

When to start preparing and how much time it takes?

I started taking coaching at the beginning of my third year of undergrad. However, there is no set time to start, and it all depends on your aptitude and your learning curve. You may as well start in your last semester if you believe you need less time to prepare. However, in your second year (assuming a three-year undergrad course), please keep your focus on maintaining a good grade (this is true especially if you are pursuing undergrad from Delhi University; the second year is the heaviest).

Further, if you feel like you cannot prepare along with your degree, and need to take a gap year for preparation, by all means, do so. But keep your focus in that year on preparation and try not to get distracted from your goal.

University-specific preparation

ISI and DSE entrances focus on the mathematical aspect; since the course is structured that way, with a focus on mathematical rigour, their entrances are designed to test that. On the other hand, universities like JNU, Hyderabad, GIPE will focus more on basic economics and general knowledge in the field of economics. GIPE will also test your knowledge of political economy. IGIDR entrance is a mixed bag with questions on economics, maths, English and logic, and section-wise cutoffs. The best way to prepare keeping in mind these vast differences is to get hold of past years’ papers for each university and practice them to get a hang of what level and kind of knowledge each of these expects of you.

General Tips

While preparing, don’t get dejected if you are not able to immediately solve all questions on a particular topic. That will come with practice. Focus on conceptual clarity.

It is very important to pick sample question papers and old papers and practice them by timing yourself. Don’t get stuck on one question and waste half an hour in the paper trying to work through that. No one can solve all the questions, the goal is to solve correctly, as many as you can.

Also, make intelligent guesses your forte. It will help a lot!

All the best!

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