The Bahamian national examination, the BJC, given at the end of junior high school is used by the majority of educators as a basis for selection of students into higher level courses. Most BJC examinations include essay-type questions, however it has been noted that English Language examinations allocate more than 50% of the total marks to questions requiring essay-type answers. This research was undertaken to determine whether the essay test provides a reliable measure of the free writing ability of junior high students. It sought to answer the following questions: i) do marks given for an essay test vary when the scripts are graded by different examiners? ii) would marks given for an essay test vary when different topics were given to the same students? and iii) would marks given for an essay vary when different marking schemes were used?