Guidelines for how to prep for Q exams in ME and AE


Note that the ME and AE field Q exams are handled jointly.  TAM Q exams are handled independently.  Those interested in info about the TAM Q exams should contact the TAM DGS.

Below are Prof Kirby’s recommendations in general about the Q in ME and AE:

  • DO study in groups.  Students that study together perform best on the Qs.
  • DO make it a routine, starting early, to have practice exams with you performing at the chalkboard and your peers querying you.  The Q exam is a skill, you will learn the skill with practice.
  • DO NOT wait until you are “ready” before doing practice exams, you are only hurting yourself.  DO NOT hold off on practice exams because practice exams are stressful and sucky.
  • DO inquire with SiGMA regarding whether they will stage mock Q exams.  Ask them to do this.  Ask early in the term.  Contact the SiGMA president to inquire about this.
  • DO come to Prof. Kirby early and often with questions about the Q exams.  The Q exams for AE and ME are given jointly and one DGS is chosen to run the process.  This DGS is typically also the Associate Director for Graduate Affairs of the Sibley School.  At present this is Prof. Kirby.  Prof. Kirby is the final authority on how the Q exams are administered.
  • DO read the field rules on the Q exam (link to  field rules are here).  They are boring.  Read them anyway.  With questions about these rules, contact Prof. Kirby.
  • DO talk to senior students about the Q exam but DO NOT take their advice without consulting with Prof. Kirby.  The Q exams change and evolve; senior students are invaluable resources about what the Q exam was like when they took it, and often their advice is still relevant, but let Prof. Kirby make sure that you know when things have changed and when they have stayed the same.
  • DO use the experience of previous students to guide your study but DO NOT forget that per field rules the details of content of the Q exam is up to each individual committee.  There is a standard format but enough flexibility that the committee can change details of the format.  The DGS typically asks the cmte to specify its format early enough that students can prepare.
  • DO note the field rules for how students are informed of results.   Your advisor is likely to remember the old rules and not the new rules.  Know the new rules.
  • DO treat the Q exam as a professional event. Dress at least at a casual professional level. Take the process seriously. Be polite and professional to the faculty during the exam and when you are informed of results.

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