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When should I take my comp exam?


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I am a 2nd year Phd student and this is my last semester of taking required coursework. I have the option of taking the comp as soon as it is offered after I am done with the semester, the earliest in the beginning of January before classes. I could also wait a semester and take it in August, as I will be much less busier in the spring semester. I would have more time to study this way, however, the comp. exam is a take-home exam given over the course of a week (20-30 pages), so I am not sure if it is even worth it to prepare for it that much. But I would rather get a high pass on it than a low pass and I think having more time to prepare for it would give me a better chance.  I would appreciate any advice.

Edited by zhanggar
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Well, what do people normally do in your department? What does your advisor recommend? If you fail, can you take it again? Is there any reason to rush now as opposed to take your time and prep more later? Or does your advisor think you're basically ready now? 

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I don't have an adviser, and no one would know how prepared I am for the comprehensive exam.  I know there are people who take in the spring and in the fall. Failing would give you another chance to take it but that is embarrassing. There's no reason for me to rush now actually but it is a take-home exam and they recently extended the time period. 

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1) How do you not have an advisor if you're at the point of taking comprehensive exams? This boggles my mind.

2) No one ultimately cares whether you get a high pass or a low pass. It's not going to be on your transcript in all likelihood.

3) If you're so worried about saving face, then why not wait a semester so you have time to study and prepare?

4) Have you gotten a chance to look at sample questions? Have you done practice exam questions yet?

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  • 3 months later...

So I ended up taking it in January and found out i passed a few days ago so I am happy. They didn't even say whether high pass or pass, just that I had a passing grade. Yeah I probably would not have benefited from taking it later because you are expected to find sources and research while you are taking the exam anyway, so it is more about preparation than how much you study or read. 

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