Checklist for Writing Your Assignment/Report/Essay

Jun 20, 2019

This is a continuously updated checklist for students writing their assignments, reports and essays.


I prepare this document out of my 3-year experience of marking thousands of assignments, reports, essays and exam papers. However, it should be considered as my personal opinions and does not constitute a marking rubric. You should always follow the official instructions by your course coordinator. The actual marking criteria may or may not include any of the following.

General Guidlines

  1. An executive summary should report the details of your major findings and brifely the approaches taken, along with the general structure of the report.
  2. If it’s a report, keep in mind the context all the time. All reports have a particular audience and in our cases mostly you’re preparing a report for your client. Tailor the way you present accordingly.


  1. Asking for a remark because you’ve done very well before (in midterm/another subject) is never going to be accepted.

Specific Examples

Daily frequency is the best, but it’s a massive work so I use monthly frequency instead.

I don’t know how to comment on this. Why daily sampling frequency is the best? Any justification? Why it’s a “massive” work? You’re not calculating by hand.

Company A’s stock price is higher/lower than Company B, which means A is better/worse than B, etc.

Stock prices are not directly comparable in almost all cases! The two companies may have different numbers of shares outstanding, which means different share prices even when the two companies have the same equity value.

Accept the project because NPV>0.

Why? What does NPV>0 mean? You could have just spent a few more words explaining a positive-NPV project creates value for shareholders, etc.

NPV<0 means investments in the project will lead to a loss.

Vague. Negative-NPV projects may still have positive accounting profit on the book. We tend to avoid a negative-NPV project because the payoff is lower than the opportunity cost of the fund.

We don’t invest in negative-NPV projects because they minimize shareholder value.

While investing in positive-NPV projects is to maximize shareholder value, a negative-NPV project does not minimize it. You can say it is against the purpose of shareholder wealth maximization, etc.

\$580 of long put position to fully hedge a million-dollar long position in ordinary shares.

Unless some serious mispricing occurs, common sense should tell you this is nearly impossible. The confusion is mostly because option contract is quoted on a per option basis but each contract contains 100 options. So if you see online that a put option has a ask of \$5.8, then a long position of one put option contract should cost \$580, not \$5.8. This is not some hidden information and you should be able find to it out via some research (even by Googling).

The expected equity return/debt return/risk-free rate is 0.1.

What is 0.1? Returns are typically expressed in percentage points, which means you’d better say it’s 10%. Another issue is that a rate of return should always come with its compounding frequency and time period over which it’s quoted. A full description can be, e.g. - 10% p.a. compounded annually. - 10% p.a. compounded continuously. - 10% per month, compounded semiannually.

Then you can translate them into effective rates when needed.

A firm repurchased stocks so equity value (shares outstanding) increased.

I don’t know who taught you this but repurchase is not a “purchase” that increases your holding. And if you’re unsure, why don’t you just Google it?

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