Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge Complete Guide

Welcome, to the world of intellect and international companionship – the Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge (HPEC). In the domain of academic contests, HPEC stands tall as a beacon of knowledge and opportunity, inviting enthusiastic high school students from around the world to engage in a stimulating exploration of economics. 

Hosted by the venerable Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association (HUEA), this competition transcends geographical boundaries, connecting young minds and promoting a profound understanding of economic principles. 

In this article, we will discuss about HPEC, its origins, structure, merits, and strategies for success.

Discovering the Roots and Organizers

Birth of HPEC

The Harvard Pre Collegiate Economics Challenge, lovingly called HPEC, had its humble beginnings at the world-renowned Harvard University. It debuted in 2011, with the Harvard Undergraduate Economics Association (HUEA) taking the helm of its organization. 

Driven by a group of dedicated Harvard undergraduates, this event is entirely student-led. It was conceived to explore Advanced Placement Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, incorporating economic news, history, and contemporary research.

The Role of HUEA

HUEA, as the primary undergraduate economics group at Harvard, has been the driving force behind the continuous evolution of HPEC. It’s a body entirely run by students, making it unique in its commitment to fostering economic education among high school students. 

HUEA’s mission is clear: to provide a platform where young minds can showcase their knowledge of economics, engage with their peers, and learn about the multifaceted world of economics in a supportive and challenging environment.

Exploring Eligibility and Registration

Diversity at HPEC

HPEC is an open door, welcoming high school students from around the globe. Whether you hail from bustling urban centers or quiet rural areas, It invites you to be part of this extraordinary journey. 

It does not discriminate based on your location; it embraces all high school students with a passion for economics.

The Power of Teamwork

HPEC promotes the creation of teams with one to four members in the spirit of collaboration and friendship. This method encourages collaboration and lets participants pick up knowledge from one another. The interchange of concepts and varied viewpoints improves the competition’s caliber and enriches the experience.

The Registration Process

The first step is to register for Harvard Pre Collegiate Economics Challenge. It’s crucial to understand that early registration is key to securing your spot. The demand is high, and there are only limited slots available. 

To confirm your participation, a nominal fee of $125 is required. It’s a small investment, considering the wealth of knowledge and experience you’ll gain. The crucial role of a coach cannot be overstated. 

A coach, usually a teacher, guides and supports the team throughout the competition. If a teacher is unavailable, a parent can also take on this role. This flexibility ensures that nothing stands in the way of your participation.

The Competition Structure

The Written Challenge

The written exam is its main part. This 90-minute journey will test your knowledge of macroeconomics, microeconomics, and current events. It’s not just a test of what you know; it’s a demonstration of your mastery of economic concepts.

The rules are straightforward – no calculators, no notes, just your raw knowledge. This is your chance to shine and showcase your expertise on a global stage.

The Thrilling Quiz Bowl

The quiz bowl rounds are where the excitement reaches its peak. Picture a high-stakes game where wit and wisdom collide. These rounds feature various question types, including microeconomics, macroeconomics, economic history, current events, and modern research topics. 

It’s an intellectual battle where participants worldwide compete, each question bringing them closer to victory. The round-robin structure ensures fair play, and the questions are designed to challenge and inspire. 

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Pros of Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge 2023

  • It is highly accessible with low registration fees and a virtual participation option.
  • Offers robust networking opportunities and international connections.
  • Organizes valuable panel discussions with seasoned professionals.
  • Prepares participants for college-level economics subjects.
  • Serves as a solid foundation for future economic challenges.

Cons of Harvard Pre Collegiate Economics Challenge

  • May have lower prestige compared to the large competition.
  • Limited competitiveness due to a smaller number of participating teams.
  • Offers a smaller prize pool, emphasizing academic growth over financial incentives.

Strategies for Success

Mastering Economic Concepts

The foundation of success in HPEC lies in a solid understanding of micro and macroeconomic principles. You should be well-versed in supply and demand, market structures, fiscal policies, and international trade. These concepts form the basis for the questions you’ll encounter in the competition, so a firm grasp is essential.

Staying Updated with Current Events

Most of the written Harvard economics essay competition and quiz bowl is dedicated to questions concerning current economic events and updates. Regularly reading reputable economic journals, newspapers, and magazines is crucial. 

Websites like Investopedia provide reliable information on global economic trends and events. Staying abreast of current events not only enhances your performance in the competition but also deepens your understanding of real-world economics.

Practice and Preparation

Reviewing previous challenge questions and solutions is an excellent way to prepare. The Harvard Economic Challenge website offers a helpful compilation of these questions. This resource provides valuable insights into the format and types of questions to expect. By reviewing past questions, you can identify patterns and areas where you need to focus your study efforts.

Participating in group discussions is another effective strategy. Engaging in discussions with peers or joining an economics club at your school provides an opportunity to exchange ideas and debate on economic topics. 

This peer learning can offer diverse perspectives and deepen your understanding of economic concepts. Remember, learning from one another is a valuable aspect of intellectual growth.

Additionally, consider seeking mentorship from experienced individuals in the field of economics. Find a mentor who is well-versed in economics. They can provide guidance, share their experiences, and offer valuable insights that can significantly enhance your preparation. 

Learning from someone with real-world experience can provide a perspective that goes beyond textbooks and classroom learning.

Developing Analytical Skills

Economics is not merely about memorizing concepts; it’s about analyzing data and drawing conclusions. Work on improving your analytical and critical thinking skills. Practice analyzing economic scenarios, interpreting data, and identifying trends. 

Developing strong analytical skills will not only help you excel in HPEC but also prepare you for future challenges in economics.

Practice Graphical Analysis

Many economic concepts are best understood and represented graphically. Ensure you can both interpret and sketch graphs accurately. While this skill may not directly assist you in the competition, it will greatly enhance your understanding of key economic concepts. 


Moreover, it will enable you to convey ideas effectively, whether in the competition or future academic endeavors.

Time Management

Effective time management is crucial during the competition. You have a limited amount of time to answer each question, so it’s essential to allocate your time wisely. Start by tackling questions you are confident about. This approach not only helps you secure points early on but also boosts your confidence. 

As you progress through the competition, prioritize questions based on difficulty. Focus on questions where you can make the most impact. Efficient time allocation ensures you cover as much ground as possible within the given timeframe.

Maintaining Composure

It’s natural to feel nervous during a competition, but staying calm is key to performing well. If you encounter a challenging question, take a deep breath and approach it methodically. Don’t let stress cloud your judgment. 

If a question seems daunting, consider skipping it temporarily and returning later if time permits. Remember, there is no penalty for leaving a question unanswered. Accuracy is important, so approach each question with a clear mind and steady hand.

Review and Double-Check

Since the competition penalizes incorrect answers in both the written exam and quiz bowl, accuracy is your best friend. Put as much effort into reviewing and cross-checking your answers as you do in formulating them. 


Double-checking your responses ensures you haven’t missed any details and reduces the risk of errors. While speed is essential, accuracy should always be your top priority.

Final Words

In a long list of academic challenges, the Harvard Pre-Collegiate Economics Challenge has its place, merging learning, competition, and camaraderie. While it may not have the charm of some larger competitions, its intimate environment offers a nurturing space for intellectual growth. 

HPEC is not just a contest; it’s a journey – a journey where knowledge deepens, connections form, and passions are ignited.

Approach it with curiosity and enthusiasm. Engage with your peers, absorb the wisdom of mentors, and savor the thrill of competition.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *