- Composing the Examination
The examination will ordinarily be held in November at the beginning of the student’s second year. The Comprehensive Examination Committee must compose the examination questions by November 1st in order for the Graduate Chair and Graduate Secretary to have enough time to prepare for the sitting of the exam in the second week. The questions will be based, of course, on the student’s reading list, and their presentation will have the following standardized structure:
- The student will write on three questions out of a choice of five.
- Each question will invite the student to engage with a broad range of primary material.
- For each question, the examiners should provide instructions detailing the question’s goals and the criteria for an exemplary answer.
- For example, “this question tests the student’s judgment in selecting and commenting upon a range of literary genres relevant to early modern print culture.”
- The examiners should spell out the minimum number of primary and/or secondary sources to be cited in the answer.
- Holding the Examination
The examination will be a sit-down, held for four hours in the second week of November. The students should be urged to use all of the allotted time; that is, no one should leave the examination early. Students can check over their answers if they have time to spare. The department should supply the students with computers so that they can keyboard their answers. These computers will have no active USB ports or disc drives and will have no internet connection.
- Grading the Examination
The Comprehensive Examination Committee will meet shortly after the examination to assign the grade and collectively compose written feedback. Students will be awarded one of the following grades: 1) Pass With Distinction 2) Pass 3) Fail. Under no circumstances should the feedback be attributed to an individual committee member. Within two weeks of the examination’s sitting, the grade and comments will be sent to the Graduate Chair, who will contact the student. No Comprehensive Examination Committee Members will reveal the grade or any feedback to the student. Students who are unsuccessful in completing this examination may be granted, upon the recommendation of the Graduate Committee, one opportunity to re-write.
- Timeline and Important Deadlines
- Fall: the different Comprehensive Examination Committees will set the examination questions and criteria for the answers.
- Deadline: November 1st-the complete examination documents will be submitted to the Graduate Chair.
- November 7-14: examinations held.
- End of November: the Comprehensive Examination Committees will meet to grade and generate written commentary on the answers; each exam will be given one of the following grades: 1) Pass With Distinction 2) Pass 3) Fail.
- Deadline: December 1st-the Graduate Chair will receive from the chair of each Comprehensive Examination Committees a document per student that assigns the grade and unattributed commentary that the student can read.
- December: The Graduate Committee will meet to discuss any failed exams, deciding whether or not the candidate(s) may have an opportunity to re-write.