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Failed quals ... Twice


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I'm looking for some opinions/advice. I'm in a top ranked (top 10, sometimes top 5) engineering program. I failed the PhD qualifying exam ... twice. The 1st time I took it, I passed 1/2 of the exam, and only had to retake a specific portion. Multiple profs asked me to stay, so I did. The second time I took it I still failed that topic. Basically I choked the 2nd time. This means I'm kicked out of the program. Now I have 3 options:

1) apply for jobs. This is the most obvious. In fact I've applied for 15 engineering jobs already.

2) apply to a lower (but still respectable) school. I would need to convince profs to write me letters of recommendation after failing a qualifying exam, this could be a challenge.

3) switch departments at my current school. This is appealing since I've already made progress on a thesis at my current institution. However, I've probably damaged my reputation here, and there's a chance I could fail AGAIN (which would probably turn me into a public spectacle here)

So this sucks. Since I took the exam twice, this results in a total 8 months of studying. These 8 months were a complete waste of time, unless I take a similar 3rd qualifying exam and pass it (justifying the 8 months of studying). Obviously since it's mid-April I have to make a decision quick. I have a few questions:

1) does anyone here have experience with this (failing quals twice and being kicked out)? Or, do you know somebody who had this happen? What did they do?

2) is it irresponsible to go to another school/program and take the quals? I mean, I just failed twice.

3). How would I explain failing quals to another university? Would they immediately reject me? My research/gpa are good, and now I have an MS.

4) Do I have any chance of being admitted into a respectable PhD program after failing the doctoral qualifying exam at one school?

**sorry for any misspellings - I created this post in a rush**

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