Grading essay exams

(I used to be a grader so this is first hand stuff) Before your essays are graded, there is an offical answer that is distributed to all the graders that will be grading your question (graders each grade one question repeatedly for a week). Then the head grader and a couple of his deputies search through the answers and find examples of various classes of mistakes, plausible but different answers, better answers, etc… These are then assembled into a packet and given to each grader. The graders then assemble in a room and spend a day going through the packet. A discussion is held about each answer and the graders try to reach consensus about how that answer should be graded. The head grader decides when each discussion is over and declares the result. These are compiled into a set of standards that each grader is supposed to abide by. There are a series of random checks while the grading is going on in which the head grader and his depuites review your grading and determine how well you are doing in abiding by the standards. They can change your grade but rarely do. I don’t know what happens to that set of standards after the grading is done, but it probably goes into a folder that collects dust. Some months later, an official answer comes out. I also don’t know who writes that but it is an answer that would be perfect according to the graders discussions. There are many, many ways of earning complete credit on an essay answer without being nearly as neat and organized and complete as the offical answer. The offical answer is not the kind of answer that someone comes up with on a timed exam and is always the result of group discussion and careful rewrites. Do not judge your own efforts against that answer. Many of those answers are even too complete so they would just take too much time to do on the exam. I think the best score I have ever seen on a CFA essay exam is in the 80’s. Such an exam is a joy to behold and is a really, really fine piece of work. You are not shooting for 100% on these and you shouldn’t write essay answers as if you were (it will take too much time).

Nice of you to offer this insight JDV. But, there is actually a better thread on grading. I read this now and then throughout studying last year and it definitely helped from a strategic standpoint. Oh, the better thread is just a compilation of JDVs past insights on grading, but all in one place.,996488,page=1

Thanks. That’s interesting info. Wouldn’t CFAI get mad if they saw this though?

They never told us not to discuss the process of grading and had pictures of it on the news. They told us not to discuss how a particular question was graded. In any event, I don’t especially care.

I think this reflects well on the CFAI actually as it strikes me that this is about as fair a grading process as could be.

The grading process is really fair. CFAI ought to advertise it more.