You will find a number of essay questions while taking the CRCE-I and P exams. Contrary to how it might appear, it is not the question that is the essay, but rather the response you provide. This is just a small point for clarity and a little humor, very little humor.
Essay questions carry a lot of weight on the Executive Exams. When crafting a response to any essay question, keep in mind that a grader has to read the response and assigning a score to it. Our graders grade many exams and each one takes a great deal effort. While a grader would like to give the examinee the benefit of the doubt, it is incumbent upon the examinee to give the grader the evidence they require to do so. The more concise the examinee can be in their response, the easier it is for the grader to determine the examinee’s command of the information requested in the question. Our graders do a great job and they volunteer their time because they are committed to the value of certification. When they receive an exam where the response to an essay question is lengthy and wordy, it frequently indicates that the examinee does not have a good grasp of the material for the question. While graders make every effort to glean correct responses from an examinee’s response, a wordy response often makes this difficult and results in low points if any being awarded for the response.
There are two primary means by which to provide a concise answer to the question. I speaking with many graders, I have found these two to be almost universally appreciated with respect to being able to confirm the knowledge of the examinee on the subject matter.
1. Bullet Points – By using bullet points, the examinee can quickly let the grader know that they are familiar with the core aspects of the material requested. This also helps the examinee by getting the points out and identified and then the bullets can be used to craft a more free text response to supplement each bullets. Most examinees will find that once they get the primary points out in bullet form, the details of what they inherently know and also have studied in the study materials come back to them and allow them to fill in those details for each bullet.
2. Outline Your Response – As many of us learned in school, it is difficult to successfully right a story or an essay by just beginning. The problem that is presented is that as you write, you remember there is additional information to be added earlier in missive. Outlining your piece helps to bring out all of the pertinent areas that need to be covered in your writing. In the exam, once you read the question, set up the response in an outline format to address each portion of the question. Remember, many questions may contain multiple parts. Outlining your response will help you to insure that you are responding to each part of the question. When outlining, you can make each section of the question a new outline section. From here, you can begin to build your response for each section. Using this simple process, you will find that you can zero in on the important aspects of your responses and actually reduce the time required to deliver a highly accurate response worthy of maximum points from the graders.
These two methods will actually save the examinee time in crafting their response and will help to insure that they are addressing each part of any question. In addition, it makes grading easier by laying out the fact that the examinee is familiar with the material in the question.
Practice these methods of responding to essay questions as you take your practice exams. Bullets and outlines will help ignite, in your mind, the prose you need for your response.
Richard J. Rogers
President, MN Gopher AAHAM
National CRCE Certification Committee Member