Andover Economics Team Falls in Second Round after Nationals Victory Last Year

A team of four Andover students fell 4-10 to familiar rival Belmont High School in the second round of the 2012 Massachusetts Economics Challenge, causing Andover to lose the chance to defend its championship title in the National Economics Challenge. The Massachusetts Economics Challenge is a state-level competition that is part of the National Economics Challenge. The winning team represents Massachusetts in the Regional Semifinals, from which it may advance to the national competition. Two teams from Andover traveled to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston on April 11 to participate in the state-level competition. Tahir Kapoor ’12, Sarah Techavarutama ’12, Greg Wang ’13 and Chuan Xu ’12 made up Team A, and Jeremy Chen ’13, David Ding ’12, Thea Raymond-Sidel ’12 and Rose Wang ’13 competed on Team B. The National Economics Challenge tests students’ knowledge of microeconomics and macroeconomics in a multiple-choice round and a “Quiz Bowl” round. Students answered questions about markets, government economic policies and international economics, according to Carroll Perry, Instructor in History and Social Science, who was the designated supervisor for both Andover teams. More than 30 teams participated in the multiple-choice round. Finishing in first and second place, respectively, Andover and Belmont High qualified for the Quiz Bowl round, a buzzer competition that challenges students to think quickly on their feet. Despite earning the top score in the first round of competition, Team A lost the Quiz Bowl round by six points to Belmont High, with one point awarded for each correct answer. “Belmont High and Phillips Academy are longstanding competitors for National Economics Challenge. We take turns winning and losing, although [Andover] generally wins,” said Techavarutama. Perry said, “What was really hard about [the Quiz Bowl] round was the speed at which the Belmont High School could buzz in. I don’t think we would ever come against it. They predicted the questions as they were being asked.” Xu said, “The problem with this year’s team is that we don’t have a quick buzzer. The questions asked during Quiz Bowl were very easy, but the other team from Belmont High School has received a lot of training in buzzing, so they got to answer most of the questions.” Last year, teams needed 20 points to win the Quiz Bowl round, but a rule change this year required teams to collect only 10 points. “Phillips Academy students usually gained momentum towards the end of the round in the past competitions. With only 10 points to meet, the students [this year] had difficulty gaining momentum,” said Perry. Andover teams began to prepare for the competition about three weeks before the test by meeting after school to review AP Economics questions, research current events and hear advice from Xu, who competed for Andover in last year’s National Economics Challenge. Xu said, “As the only returning member of the team, I tried to use my experience to improve the efficiency and quality of our training sessions. I compiled a ‘cheat sheet’ based on the questions asked last year, and it proved to be pretty useful. I believed we were better prepared than last year.” Xu continued, “The team did marvelously this year. We have exceptionally smart and dedicated members who really squeezed time for this commitment. Though I was expecting the team to go farther in the competition, I’m still impressed by the result.” Perry said, “I don’t think the team can improve any further. If there is [a way to improve], it’s not worth it. They are wonderful economics students, and I think they are and should be proud of that. They like each other, and they had fun.” Andover participated in the National Economics Challenge in 2009 and 2011 and captured the national title both years.