Instructions for the General Comprehensive Examination

Examination, Part A:

  1. The doors of the examination room will be opened approximately 10 minutes before the start of the examination. Students will be permitted to enter the examination room quietly up to one half hour after the scheduled start of the exam. Students arriving late will not be allowed any extra time.
  2. Students must not begin the examination or attempt to read the examination questions until instructed to do so.
  3. Examinations may be written with computers provided by the university. These will be disconnected from the internet, and you can only use its word processor programs, typically Word or WordPerfect. You may use the word processor’s dictionary, spell checker, etc. At the end of the exam, you must provide an electronic copy of your exam with your name and date. Save your file regularly since no allowance will be made for computer crashes. Come prepared to write or continue writing the exam by hand in case of computer problems.
  4. Students may not leave the exam room before completing and submitting the exam unless accompanied by a presiding officer. Students are not permitted to submit their examination and leave the examination room until 1 hour after the examination has begun. In no case may a candidate leave the room temporarily, for any reason, until 30 minutes after the start of the examination. To avoid disrupting others, students must remain seated and may not leave the examination room during the last 15 minutes of the examination session. 
  5. At the close of the examination period, students must stop writing immediately.
  6. A student who leaves before the examination is over must hand in all completed and attempted work, including notes made during the exam.
  7. Talk or any form of communication between students is absolutely forbidden. No information of any kind is to be written on the question paper or on scrap paper for the purpose of assisting other students. Responses to questions must not be done in an exaggerated way or in a manner that will involve transmission of information to others.
  8. Students must remain seated during the examination period. A student needing to speak to the presiding officer (e.g. to ask for additional supplies or to request permission to leave the examination room for any reason) should seek out the presiding officer as notified at the beginning of the exam. 
  9. Questions concerning possible errors, ambiguities or omissions in the examination paper must be directed to the presiding officer who will investigate them through the proper channels. The presiding officer is not permitted to answer questions other than those concerning the examination paper.
  10. Students must not use or attempt to use any improper source of information. No student may bring into the examination room any books, notes or other material containing information pertaining to the examination. Any item brought into the examination room is subject to inspection. Students may not use portions of pre-existing documents, such as term papers, to answer questions. 
  11. No briefcases, backpacks or other bags and carriers may be brought to the desk site where the candidate is writing the examination. They must be put at the front of the examination room in a place designated by the presiding officer before a candidate takes a seat.
  12. No electronic or communication devices will be allowed in the examination room, including cell phones, blackberries, pagers, etc. Translation dictionaries (e.g. English-French) or other dictionaries (thesaurus, definitions, technical), including electronic ones, are not allowed unless indicated on the examination paper.
  13. Bottled water, food or other drinks are allowed in the examination room, subject to the approval of the presiding officer. Students with health problems that warrant relaxation of this regulation should provide medical documentation to the presiding officer prior to the beginning of the examination. Such students should restrict themselves to those items and packaging that will least distract other students.
  14. Students are expected to write their examinations in an honest and straightforward manner. Where there are reasonable grounds for believing a violation of exam protocol has occurred, the candidate will be subject to the disciplinary procedures and sanctions according to the university calendar. Examinations are bound by the regulations of the university where the student is registered.

Specific Instructions for General Comprehensives

  1. Part A offers a choice of two questions, students answer one.
  2. Part B (take home), students answer two of three questions.
  3. On both parts, students should construct precise, well organized answers. Accurate references to specifics (e.g., authors, books, articles, events, data, and case studies) will strengthen your answers.
  4. Examiners will look for depth and breadth in both individual answers and in the examination as a whole.