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What is a Constructed-Response Question?

Posted by David Gobeil on

On The CFP Examination, you will find 20 or more constructed-response questions. 

A constructed-response question is a question that requires you to produce an answer in your own words, using a computer. These questions will range from short-answer questions to longer, extended-response questions. The questions involve client situations that require you to complete an analysis, prepare a written report, draft a financial plan or write a letter to a client.


 Each of these questions includes a response template. A response template is a table with titles and other guidance that directs you in responding to a question. Apparently, every question will have a detailed response template.

 A response template makes the answering of these questions much easier because it gives you considerable guidance as to what the examiners are expecting. In fact, it may indicate that you are required to provide information in the solution that was not specifically requested in the response instructions.

The FPSC once published the following sample question.

 Brian and Liz, who have been married since age 18, recently retired and will begin receiving their CPP retirement benefits in six months when they both turn 61. Their recent CPP statements indicate that at age 65, Brian will be entitled to a CPP benefit of $400 per month, while Liz will be eligible for a monthly CPP benefit of $800. Liz’s annual RPP income will be $50,000 and they estimated that annual retirement expenses will be $55,000. Brian and Liz want to maximize any income splitting opportunities.

Income Range

Effective Tax Rate

$0 - $35,000


$35,000 - $75,000


 What will be Brian and Liz’s annual cash flow shortfall for the next few years? Show your calculations. (5 minutes) 



i: Income Calculation:



ii: Tax Payable:



iii: Total Net Income:



iv: Expenses:



v: Shortfall:



 This question could easily have been a multiple-choice question. The question requires only collection, not analysis or synthesis. You will see much more challenging questions than this.

We will provide you with considerable guidance on answering such questions in our Blog on Constructed-Response Questions. 

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