Obtaining a Ph.D.
Preparing for Comprehensive/Qualifying Exams
The following sites cover preparing for comprehensive/qualifying exams in a very
general sense. Specific disciplines and departments will have their own
approaches and policies: check with your program or department as well as others
in your field to find out what form their examinations take. Check through our collection of Promising
Practices on General and Final Exams to see if your institution offers any
innovative mentoring programs. We rely on institutions' submissions to
keep our collect of Promising Practices updated: if your institution has
innovative mentoring practices but isn't represented here, they can be submitted
Comprehensive Exams Home Page (University of New Mexico)
Although this is in the Computer Science Department, the information about
studying for and taking the exams is relevant to many fields.
Qualifying Exams: Making It to the Other Side (UC Irvine)
A doctoral student in English/Comparative Literature offers mental strategies
for facing the exams.
Comprehensive (or Qualifying) Exams (University of Texas, Austin)
A professor in Sociology suggests preparing for Comps in three stages: Gathering
Information, Understanding Information, and Testing Knowledge.
Examination Guide (Claremont Graduate University Writing Center)
Offers suggestions for working with the exam committee, developing reading
lists, staying on track, and preparing for oral and written exams.
Study Guide (Texas Tech University)
A doctoral student in Rhetoric outlines a strategy for creating exam lists and reading
schedules, annotating exam readings, reviewing, and preparing for writing the
Tips for Taking
(and Passing) a Comprehensive Examination (University of Central Florida)
Gives general advice for passing oral or written comprehensive examinations.
Practices on General and Final Exams