Test Information Guide

Field 19: Business
Sample Open-Response Item

The following materials contain:

Sample Test Directions for Open-Response Items

This section of the test consists of two open-response item assignments. You will be asked to prepare a written response of approximately 150–300 words for each assignment. You should use your time to plan, write, review, and edit your response for each assignment. You must write responses to both of the assignments.

For each assignment, read the topic and directions carefully before you begin to work. Think about how you will organize your response.

As a whole, your response to each assignment must demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge of the field. In your response to each assignment, you are expected to demonstrate the depth of your understanding of the subject area by applying your knowledge rather than by merely reciting factual information.

Your response to each assignment will be evaluated based on the following criteria.

The open-response item assignments are intended to assess subject knowledge. Your responses must be communicated clearly enough to permit valid judgment of the evaluation criteria by scorers. Your responses should be written for an audience of educators in this field. The final version of each response should conform to the conventions of edited American English. Your responses should be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.

Be sure to write about the assigned topics. You may not use any reference materials during the test. Remember to review your work and make any changes you think will improve your responses.

Sample Open-Response Item

Objective 0016
Prepare an organized, developed analysis on a topic related to one or more of the following: business management, accounting and quantitative analysis, economics, marketing, entrepreneurship and business technology, and career development and personal finance.

Use the passage below to complete the exercise that follows.

For a number of years Mr. Aaron has considered leaving his job and going into business for himself. Recently he has noted the popularity of specialty coffee shops nationwide and is investigating the possibility of setting up an espresso bar in his local shopping mall.

So far Mr. Aaron's research has yielded four findings:

  1. The cost of the equipment necessary for a coffee bar is approximately $36,000, and Mr. Aaron would likely qualify for a small business loan for the full amount at 10% interest over 36 months.
  2. The management of the mall location would rent him retail space at a monthly rate of $1,200.
  3. The shopping mall is open 12 hours per day Monday through Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday. Mr. Aaron estimates that he will need one full-time 40-hour employee, in addition to himself, to work the location. He further estimates that the wage and benefit package for the employee would be approximately $15 per hour.
  4. Market research indicates that the average cost for materials and supplies per drink in specialty coffee shops is $0.65, while the average price per drink is $3.25.

Using your knowledge of business, write an essay in which you:

Sample Strong Response to the Open-Response Item

The sample response below reflects a strong knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.

The fixed costs for Mr. Aaron's business are those costs that will not change from month to month regardless of the volume of business. These costs include the costs of servicing his debt and his monthly rental costs.

The $36,000 loan is to be repaid over 36 months. As the formula for determining the exact monthly costs for such a loan is very complex, I will use an average to estimate his payments. For the first year, he will owe approximately $3,600 in interest ($36,000 x .10), which is $300 per month. Added to the principal of $1,000 per month ($36,000/36), his approximate payment will be $1,300 monthly. Using the same math, he will owe $1,200 per month in year two ($24,000 x .10 + $1,000) and $1,100 per month in year three ($12,000 x .10 + $1,000). Therefore, his average monthly payment for the three years is $1,200. This is probably slightly higher than his actual payment would be, but is close enough for estimating his total monthly fixed costs of $2,400 ($1,200 rent + $1,200 loan payment).

Mr. Aaron's variable costs will include costs that may change from month to month such as labor and the costs for supplies. Assuming that he is not taking a salary himself, his monthly labor costs for one employee will be $15 per hour x 40 hours x 52 weeks/12 months = $2,600 per month. Since his costs for materials and supplies is $.65 per drink, his monthly costs will be .65x, where x equals the number of drinks sold in a month.

To calculate his breakeven number of drinks sold per month, we must find the point at which the costs equal revenue, or $2,400 + $2,600 + $.65x = $3.25x. Solving for x gives approximately 1923 drinks per month to break even.

Two costs that Mr. Aaron has not yet considered are insurance and marketing. He needs property and casualty insurance to protect his business against potential damage and liability, and he may be required by law to pay unemployment, workers' compensation, and/or health insurance for his employee. For a business dealing with hot liquids, liability insurance is especially important.

Mr. Aaron also needs to consider the costs associated with marketing his new business. This may include the costs of print or radio advertising, mailed fliers, signage, giveaways, discount coupons, etc. While a mall generally provides foot traffic, it will be important for the business to market itself to customers who will come in only for the coffee.

Scoring Rubric

Performance Characteristics

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the open-response item(s).

Performance Characteristics
Purpose The extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment.
Subject Matter Knowledge Accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge.
Support Quality and relevance of supporting details.
Rationale Soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter.

Scoring Scale

The scoring scale below, which is related to the performance characteristics for the tests, is used by scorers in assigning scores to responses to the open-response item(s).

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4 The "4" response reflects a thorough knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is fully achieved.
  • There is substantial, accurate, and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is sound; there are high-quality, relevant examples.
  • The response reflects an ably reasoned, comprehensive understanding of the topic.
3 The "3" response reflects an adequate knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is largely achieved.
  • There is a generally accurate and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is adequate; there are some acceptable, relevant examples.
  • The response reflects an adequately reasoned understanding of the topic.
2 The "2" response reflects a limited knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is partially achieved.
  • There is a limited, possibly inaccurate or inappropriate, application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is limited; there are few relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a limited, poorly reasoned understanding of the topic.
1 The "1" response reflects a weak knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.
  • The purpose of the assignment is not achieved.
  • There is little or no appropriate or accurate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence, if present, is weak; there are few or no relevant examples.
  • The response reflects little or no reasoning about or understanding of the topic.
U The response is unrelated to the assigned topic, illegible, primarily in a language other than English, not of sufficient length to score, or merely a repetition of the assignment.
B There is no response to the assignment.