AM Bizarre Results-One Explanation,Markers Poor English

There are not a small number who cannot believe they did as badly in the AM section as their marks suggest.

Has the problem got something to do with employing graders whose first language is not English , as reported here:

This year (2011), 41% of the graders came from outside of the U.S. The UK sent 20, another 11 came from Australia and 10 made the trip from Hong Kong. A greater share of graders are flying in from Asia, an area that now boasts more CFA candidates than any other, 41% of all prospects.


This is not a concern that can be dismissed -concerns about results and marking are increasing.

Meanwhile, whenever concerns are raised about CFA’s model answers , CFA rolls out the usual-“high standards”, “partial credits”, and best of all-“One of a number of possible answers”.

Yet-despite insisting that many possible answers are accepted comments of this type are also becoming more common:

The difference in my case was that I finally realized that providing the right answers has little to do with what’s actually good advice but has to come exactly from what the curricululm suggested you do in a particular situation. Now remember , CFA says the programme is of postgraduate level-so thinking should be allowed-as is expression-ie CFA should not be expecting all answers to sound like they have been cut and paste from the textbook. Of course, if our markers are persons whose first language is not English, that makes a difference-they will insist that unless the answer reads exactly like that provided by CFA, it is is wrong-forget partial credits. That would require Engish language skills of a high order.

I wouldn’t read too much into this. People trying to use this as an excuse to why they failed are just trying to shift the blame of failure from themself to something else.

CFAI has many controls in place to remove potential problems and biases, and I’m almost certain the graders are all CFA charterholders themselves.

The bottom line is that people fail the AM because they wrote poor answers usually. It’s not spelling, not sloppiness, it’s content. I know. I failed last year and was shocked. Then I looked at the AM paper when it was released and realized how awful my answers were. I corrected the mistakes and passed this time around . Just hammer the morning section questions over and over and you eventually “get it.”

Blue boxes and old AM papers…over and over again. Know the keywords used by CFAI related to a topic.

I am also shocked at how bad my AM results break down was. Will be interested in reviewing the CFAI guideline answers (and trying to remember what I wrote) to better understand whether my understanding of the material is crap or if the markers are assessing style rather than content.

Anyone know if we (i.e. those that passed) can access the CFAI suggested answers when they come out?

Self-protecting bias, anyone?

I’m sure the graders do just fine.

Well, this only explains why a Pass deserve a Pass. Because their answers are so well written that even non native speakers can understand.

Think twice why you failed, but not find a scapegoat!

Thecountries that OP mentioned use English as the primary language. WTF??? OP seems a bit ignorant on this topic.

If OPs opinion is correct - THEN does’nt this mean, people can clear level 1 and 2 without proper command of English?

While I partly agree that my (me as an individual ONLY) written/spoken english might not as “natural” as folks from UK and US - I dont agree that this will have any effect on the result eventually. And I trust CFAI anyway to not have these as a criteria.

I moved over to the UK last year and I can say that their english is alright here.

I’ve never been to Austrailia or Hong Kong, but the aussies I work with here have these funny accents and speak really fast…maybe that could have an impact on the grading??

I believe the graders are professionals/academics of finance in one form or another, so I’m sure their English language ability is more more than sufficient for grading purposes. They’re already working with a set of standardized answers and all exam takers should be keeping things as simple as possible already (i.e. bullet points).

this is freaking ridiculous…

Well, the right answer is still the right answer in any language. For the most part, I feel like the first part was more focused on providing certain metrics so I’m sure they would of recognized correct answers. Plus they’re reviewed by another person, after being graded.

Stop calling conspiracy theory.


Where is the evidence that :

-“CFAI has many controls in place to remove potential problems and biases”

And do these “potential problems” include the problems I have brought up?

And being a CFA charterholder somehow gives you superior skills of English comprehension??

i wrote my answers in four different languages just to be safe

ESL readers’ comprehension performance: the Chinese secondary context

  1. Juliana Chau,
  2. Winnie Wu,
  3. Julia Chen and
  4. Shari Lughmani

+Author Affiliations

  1. Juliana Chau holds a PhD in language education and has published works in international journals on second language acquisition, technology-mediated learning, and socio-constructivist language learning. She has taught English as a second language in Australia and Hong Kong and is currently working at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, coordinating a language ePortfolio project, overseeing materials development for university students, and providing teacher training for secondary school teachers. Email:
  2. Winnie Wu is a Language Instructor at the English Language Centre of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She teaches both academic and workplace English. She holds an MA in translation and interpreting and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education in English language teaching (secondary). She has experience teaching both local Chinese, mainland Chinese, and ethnic minority students in Hong Kong. Email:
  3. Julia Chen is Associate Director and Senior Lecturer at the English Language Centre of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Deputy Chair of her Faculty’s Learning and Teaching Committee. She coordinates materials development and staff development in her Centre. Her research interests include L2 writing pedagogy, ESP, academic integrity, teacher training, and enhancing the secondary–tertiary interface. Email:
  4. Shari Lughmani is a Senior Lecturer in the English Language Centre, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and is responsible for the coordination work in the area of reading and writing. Having a background in English Literature and Applied Linguistics in the UK, Pakistan, and Hong Kong, she has taught Poetry, Drama, Novel, Discourse Analysis, and Phonetics to undergraduates and ELT trainees. Her research interests include reading and writing assessments, collaborative writing, and teacher and peer feedback. Email:

Recent research in reading comprehension in Western settings has focused on collecting evidence from reading tests that would measure relevant ESL reading constructs to inform reading instruction and assessment. Similar studies in non-Western contexts, however, remain under-reported. This study involved 958 senior secondary Hong Kong (Chinese) school students and 45 ESL teachers from local secondary schools. The study identified some of the weaknesses and strengths in aspects of Chinese ESL readers’ comprehension performance. Results of the study indicate that reading comprehension is constrained by linguistic-, discourse-, and pragmatic-level problems. The article concludes with a call to rethink ESL reading pedagogy to foster readers’ own understanding of a text and to build up interest and confidence in reading. Three instructional methods in this direction are proposed for ESL reading improvement.

You can always ask for the exam retabulation if you feel so strongly. It only costs $100. Good luck!

What’s a retab got to do with anything?

each question is graded several times by several DIFFERENT graders

stop with the nonsense

Recent L2 passers please take a note - this thread is a very good example of a Behavioural Bias called - Self-Attribution Bias. The only way to partially solve it is to realized that you have this bias and come to terms with it and not find “scapegoats”

haha, I also detect a hint of overconfidence bias based on original post. They could definitely make this an exam question for next year.