Grading yourself for essay questions / determining whether answer is sufficient

Obviously, if you are objective enough you can easily tell in most cases whether you are thinking correctly. But the big question is - how can you tell confidently whether your answer is complete? This makes a huge difference between full and partial credit, does not it?

When I look at some answers for essay questions in the curriculum they tend to seem very long. One answer I am looking at now has 404 words (that is crazy). Multiply those words with number of questions and you get the size of the total curriculum that should be written in three hours. Naturally, you are not supposed to answer in essays but in constructed response as indicated by many prep providers. But it would be really hard to gauge the quality of your answers if you do not have proper yardstick to measure your response.

For L1 and L2, you would just look at the question in the curriculum, your hit rate and then you would be fine (assuming it is >70%). But you have nothing to compare your essay responses with for L3 so I am really curious how people here are tackling this known problem.

I used kaplan and grading the questions was very black and white. If they ask for 3 things in the question, kaplan would provide the possible answers and tell you to assign x points for each of the 3 if you had them. I think that the more tests you take and the better you get at the essay portion, grading becomes more clear. Also when in doubt in grading your answers, mark it wrong. It can only help you get better in the long run. good luck

That’s a good point. I tend to write to much, similar to the essay mock answers. If I would write less I am not so confident that I am replying to the question… I have a feeling of being too “superficial”.

I also have no Idea how grade myself…

If they ask for 3 reasons, and you provide 4 (1 incorrect, 3 correct), do you get full credit?

Only if the fourth one is the one that’s wrong.

The grader will read only the first three.

What about this kind of questions, for example.

Justify why XY has below average risk tolerance (Let’s say it has a long time horizon).

Could be enough to stay why it has longer time horizon or we should also say the consequence of having a longer time horizon (which is pretty obvious I think…): Having a longer time horizon it has enough time to recover from bad investment returns and short term volatility… ??

Another example, doing essay 2014 I had a comparison between a foundation and a DB pension plan. It is enough enough to say DB plan has shorter duration of liabilities (for example 4 years in that case) and the foundation has a longer time horizon (perpetuity) and so foundation has higher ability to take risk?

Or in another question for another topic in the same 2014 essay.


  1. Transaction cost of Bonds expected to decrease 2) Volatility of Bonds expected to increase 3) Correlation of Bonds with portfolio expected to increase

Justify why XY is correct in stating that no conclusion could be reached if the corridor width should be widened or narrowed:

We know that… the consequences are: 1) narrower 2) narrower 3) wider So no conclusion can be made…

But should we say also why narrower or wider? Because I would just say what the consequence of each point is and then that no conclusion can be made, not also why for example a higher volatility implies a lower corridor width.

Any idea?