What is the exam going to be like?
By Dr. Peter H. Welsh
I base this on the many M.A. and Doctoral exams in which I have participated. They go like this:
- After the preliminaries, I will ask the you to give us a brief (5 minutes) summary of your graduate studies – i.e. what did you emphasize and focus on?
- You will then give a short, semi-formal, oral summary of your research (15-20 minutes).
- What was the question or problem you were addressing?
- What approach(es) did you take to answer the question/solve the problem?
- What did you find or conclude?
You might also want to add…
- In what ways do you see this contributing to our understanding of this question or problem? How will it benefit the field? Or a particular institution?
- Did your research reveal new questions or potential for additional research?
For this presentation you can use PowerPoint, handouts, or you can just talk (no shadow puppets, please). Think of this like a conference presentation, if that helps.
- The committee then asks questions and has a conversation with you about your work. Usually each committee member asks questions, in turn, until we feel we have covered all the points. (30-40 minutes)
- We then give anyone else in attendance a chance to ask questions (encourage your friends to attend – you can prepare them with the questions you wish your committee would ask).
- You will then be asked to step outside of the room while the committee discusses the exam (5-10 minutes).
- You then come back in and receive your well-deserved hearty congratulations. If it has not yet come up, we are liable to discuss ways you might disseminate your work further, your future career plans, and so on.
For additional information, please see the Final Product and Examination section of the Graduate Handbook.