General Exam Questions from Hell

Nov 09 2011 Published by under academia

A right of passage for most graduate programs is the General (or Qualifying) exam. These vary in format between programs (and disciplines-but I am only familiar with the biologically-centric flavors). IME, these consist of a 2-3 hour oral exam, where the student presents and defends their dissertation project and is also expected to be answer "general" questions related to their chosen field of study. Most students work pretty hard to prepare for these exams. In my grad program, it was often stated that the day of your general exam was the smartest you would ever be (because you would not be able to recall much of what you learned after another year or so).

Well, it is now my turn to sit on the other side of the table. The season of general exams is upon us (at MRU), and I have to give several of these exams in the near future. These are a bit of work, because I have to think up good questions that test the breadth and depth of the student's knowledge and reasoning skills. Which leads me to...#GeneralExamQuestionsFromHell, a twitter game that Odyssey and I have been playing. Here are some of what we have come up with so far:

Do you have any General/Qualifying Exam horror questions? If you are a student, what do you remember from your exam?

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