Economics Graphing Tool Directions


Student Directions

Graphing questions can be answered in a number of ways: they may require dragging a curve, plotting a point, drawing a straight line, drawing a curved line, plotting an area, or labeling a curve.  These instructions will walk you through each question type.

When you start a graphing question, you will see a screen like this:

The toolbar at the top of the screen contains all possible graphing tools.  You will not use all the tools in each question, though you will sometimes need to use more than one.  For each question, you will be instructed which tool to use.  

PLEASE NOTE that a question may instruct you to use more than one of these tools (for instance, “use the point tool to plot points and then the curved-line tool to connect them”).  If you are instructed to use two tools, you must use both of them for the question to be graded correct. The order doesn’t matter – you can use whichever tool that you would prefer first – but you must use both the tools listed.

The tools are:

This is the drag tool.  You can use it to drag lines and points, or to shift a curve.  If you are drawing a curve and need to move a segment, you will use this tool to shift the segment.  In questions, the instructions “Drag the appropriate curve” signify you should use this tool.

This is the point tool.  You use it to place points on the graph.  In questions, the instructions “Use the point tool” signify you should use this tool

This is the straight-line tool.  You will use it to draw straight lines between two points that you indicate, such as Demand and Supply curves (in economics, straight lines are known as curves with a constant slope).  In questions, the instructions “Use the straight-line tool” signify you should use this tool.

This is the curved-line tool. You use it to draw curves with a varying slope, such as Production Possibility Frontiers or Average Total Cost curves.  In questions, the instructions “Use the curved-line tool” signify you should use this tool.

This is the area tool.  You use it to draw shapes and areas, such as the expected profit in a scenario where tariffs are applied.  In questions, the instructions “Use the area tool” signify you should use this tool.

This is the labeling tool, which you will use to label certain elements in graphs such as curves, lines, and shapes. In questions, the instructions “Use the labeling tool” signify you should use this tool

This is the undo button.  If you want to remove work by the last tool you used (a single point or a complete curve), or change your mind about the placement of a curve curve you’ve shifted, click once on the undo button.  If you shift a curve and then change your mind and shift it somewhere else using the drag button rather than undoing it using the undo button, your answer may be marked incorrect. If you want to undo all of your work, hold down the undo button for two seconds.

This is the redo button. If you want to redo the work you’ve just undone, click on the redo button.


Tutorial 1: Shifting a curve

Important notes: Always use the tools specified in the question to complete a graph correctly.  If you use different tools to draw or manipulate a graph than is specified in the question, your work will be marked incorrect. Additionally, some questions will require that you drag the curve or point to a general area, while others will require that you drag it to a specific area.  The process is identical for each approach. If you move the wrong curve or move a curve to the wrong place, click the undo button to return the curve back to its origin, and then proceed to answer the question correctly.  

To view a video walkthrough of this tutorial, click here.

To shift a curve, click on the drag tool and then click on the curve you’d like to shift.  The curve you’ve selected will appear with its endpoints circled:

Holding on to the curve, shift by moving it to the appropriate location or area and click the “Submit Answer” button in the bottom right corner of your screen.  If you answer the question incorrectly, you’ll receive feedback to that effect:


Click “Try again,” and you can retry the question (assuming your instructor has enabled this feature).  Scroll to the top of the page to access your new attempt. If you answer the question correctly, you’ll receive feedback to that effect:

 After you complete the question, there is an option to view the correct graph in the “Explanation” section of the “Solution” for shifting type questions, and the “Solution” for all other graphing types (assuming your instructor has enabled this feature).

Tutorial 3: Moving a Point

Important notes: If a question instructs you to move a point, do not use the point tool to draw a new point.  This will result in your answer being marked incorrect. If you draw a new point accidentally, you can use the undo button to remove it before you submit your answer.

To view a video walkthrough of this tutorial, click here.

Questions may ask you to move a point/curve to a general area (i.e. “Move the point to the area on the graph where demand is increased and supply is decreased”), or to a specific location.  Moving an element to a general area is covered in Tutorial 1; this lesson deals with shifting a point to a specific location. The same logic applies to shifting a curve to a specific location.


To move a point to a specific location, first click on the drag tool in your toolbar.  Then click on the point and, holding down your mouse, drag it to the new location:

When the point is where you want it, click the "Submit" button:


Tutorial 4: Shifting a horizontal line

To view a video walk through of this tutorial, click here.

Some questions – typically those where you are expected to find an equilibrium – will ask you to shift a horizontal line.


To shift a horizontal line, click on the line and while holding onto the line with your mouse, pull your mouse up or down.

Place your line in the desired location:

When you are satisfied with your answer, click "Submit":

Tutorial 5: Drawing a curve

Important notes: When you hand-draw your curve, it is not necessary to draw it perfectly the first time – when you release the mouse or pick up the stylus, the curve will snap into place. If you draw your curve and feel the line is not placed exactly correctly, you can click on the endpoints or midpoint and pull them to the correct location.  If you draw your line incorrectly the first time, you must either undo it entirely and draw a new line or drag the existing line into the appropriate location – if you do not correct or remove your initial wrong answer, subsequent attempts will be graded incorrect, even if you’ve drawn a new, correct line. Unless specified otherwise in the question, a straight line should consist of only one line segment – do not attempt to connect two shorter straight lines to make a longer line. This will result in your answer being graded as incorrect.

To view a video walkthrough of this tutorial, click here.

Some questions will ask you to draw a curve, using either the straight-line tool or the curved-line tool.  To do this, you must first select the correct tool.  The question will tell you whether you should use the straight-line tool or the curved-line tool.  Click on the appropriate tool, and then on the graph.

In the sample question below, the graph initially appears blank because you have not yet drawn the curve:



You can draw a curve in one of two ways – either you can click on the appropriate endpoints and the curve will draw itself automatically, or you can hold down your mouse (or finger or stylus, on a tablet) and trace the line as you would on paper. In this case, the curve will snap into place as you free-hand draw.  Both ways will work for each question. 

To draw a curve using the straight-line tool, first click on the straight-line tool in the toolbar.  Then click on the graph, and either click on the endpoints or hold down the mouse to draw the line:

To draw a curve using the curved-line tool, first click on the curved-line tool in the toolbar.  Then click on the graph, and either click on the endpoints and midpoint or hold down the mouse to draw the line. While both methods work for drawing a curve, you may find it easier simply to click the points:

When you have placed the curves where you want them, click "Submit":

Tutorial 6 (a & b): Drawing a shape and shading an area

Important notes: When drawing and shading, your mouse will be hovering over points as you drop your “corners” of the shape.  The question may require the corners to drop at a whole number or at the halfway point between two numbers (1.5, for instance), or the point may need to be dropped at a very specific number (such as 1.3).  The coordinates you see as you hover will reflect the requirement of the correct answer. When you see the correct coordinates highlighted, drop your corner.   The answer is complete when the shading turns black.  If the shape stays white, the corners have not been joined and the answer will be marked incorrect.  Finally, only click corners to create a shape, not midsections of the line.  If you are graphing an area with a segment that runs from (0,0) to (0,6) and you place points at (0,0), (0,3) and (0,6) rather than just at (0,0) and (0,6), your answer will be graded incorrect.

To view a video walkthrough of this tutorial, click here and here.

Some questions will ask you to draw an area – for instance, an area representing tariff profits.  Others will provide you with coordinates to plot.



For these questions, select the area tool from your toolbar.  Then click the appropriate points on the graph, one after another. You may be given specific points to plot, or you may be asked to plot the area that fits a specific description (area between curves, for instance):

You will know you have completed your area when the shape turns black.  If the shape appears hollow, as below, you have not connected all your points:

When you have completed the area, click “Submit.” 

Tutorial 7: Labeling curves and points

Important notes: Some questions may ask you to combine multiple features – for instance, dragging or shifting a curve and also labeling it.  In these cases, complete the other pieces of the question and then label where necessary. After completing tutorial question 7, you may wish to complete tutorial question 8, which combines multiple tools.

To view a video walkthrough of this tutorial, click here.

Some questions will ask you to label a curve or point.  To do this, first select the label icon from the toolbar.  Next, click on the curve or point you want to label:


This will bring up a dropdown menu of possible labels.  Click on the correct label for your curve or point:


When you have labeled all the necessary curves or points, click “Submit.”

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