# Determine vs Calculate

I’ve seen words used for determine, but sometimes just calculations. I’ve also seen words AND calculations to address the determine command word.

How do you know if just calcs will be accepted? Or should you always include words as well. Thoughts?

Sometimes calculations are required to make a final determination. That’s what they want with the Determine command word when it’s paired with a Show your calculations. Show us the calculations, draw a conclusion, and state the conclusion. They may also throw in a Justify which would require you to make a statement that shows why you came to that conclusion (to show you actually understand what you were doing rather than just writing numbers down from a formula you memorized).

Question 2 on the 2016 exam is a really good example of all this I think. It has a good mix of the varieties of Determine, Calculate, Justify and Show.

So in summary, the way I view it …

If it just says Calculate and Show you calculations, that’s what you do. Your answer is a number or percentage or quantity.

If it says Determine, then you have a question to answer. Q - “Determine if he should go left or right?” A - “He should go right”. If it asks you to Calculate and Show how you came to that answer, that’s what you do.

If it also includes a Justify, you’ll need to include a statement like “He should go right because …”

Calculate shows you know how to find the numbers.

Determine shows you know how to interpret the output.

Justify shows you understand the concepts behind both the calculation, the output and why in God’s name you’re doing it in the first place.

There are many redundant command words as:

Explain - Justify - Describe

State - Formulate - Identify

Demonstrate - Support - Recommend

Contrast - Distinguish

which almost always require same action. I would say this is rather in English vocabulary than there are many various actions which are mutually exclusive. When I translated some of those meaning is same in my language.

This provides some clarification, thanks.

I don’t suppose we get command word definitions in the exam? I only ask because I’ve seen an index is some 3rd party provided mocks

https://www.cfainstitute.org/programs/Documents/cfa_and_cipm_los_command_words.pdf

Oh also, my post above didn’t mention that the Determine command word has been used similarly to Calculate on past exams. Like " Determine the nominal after-tax required return". So they could be used interchangeably sometimes. Just something to look out for.