candidacy exam prep. problems..

Deb Britt Deborah_Britt at
Tue Aug 20 10:54:17 EST 1996

In my grad school program, the major professor's role was basically just
to show up (armed with questions!) for the exam.  Our exams were given by
the members of the thesis committee, plus one extra prof from inside the
the department, and one from outside.   The major prof would give
suggestions for who to ask, but then it was entirely up to the grad
student to contact the committee members, arrange a time and place for the
exams (written and oral), get signatures and file the appropriate

You should get a committee together soon, and ask each member if there is
a specific area you should concentrate on for studying.  Some profs will
give you very specific topics, while others are no help at all, but it is
worth asking.  Also be aware of your committee members backgrounds, as
sometimes they pull questions from stuff they did as grads or postdocs.

Motivation to study has to come from within, but it will get stronger once
you set a date.  If you are nervous about an oral exam, get some friends
or your advisor to quiz you (try using the room you will actually be
examined in).  Just because your professor hasn't offered to help doesn't
mean he's not willing to give you a hand if you ask.  Set aside a specific
place with no distractions (the library maybe)  and times for studying,
and get yourself into a routine.

Good luck!
In article
<Pine.SUN.3.91.960819164315.3412B-100000 at cardio.ICM.UMontreal.CA>, CVR
<cvr at> wrote:

> I'm currently enrolled in my second year of a PhD program in physiology.  
> I love the work that I do and the environment in the lab is pretty good 
> (a few problems, but aren't there always a few of those!)..  Here's the 
> deal though..
> I am preparing for my candidacy exam right now.. I had hoped to right it 
> sometime in August, but my supervisor told me that he wanted to have his 
> funding applications dealt with before it was time for my exam.. so the 
> matter was dropped for a little while..  Just recently I started talking 
> about it again.  He's tossed out some names about who he wants to have on 
> the jury but is being pretty noncommittal about it.  In fact, he's left 
> it all up to me to phone up these people and ask them if they'd accept to 
> sit on my evaluation committee.  I've decided for myself that I want the 
> exam to be over and done with by early November at the latest.
> The problem is that I'm having a really hard time getting myself 
> motivated enough to actually pick up some books and study for the exam.  
> I find myself reading a physiology textbook and taking about three hours 
> to read 4-5 pages of material which isn't really that hard to absorb and 
> understand.  My fiance (who's done his PhD already) is trying to help me 
> out as best as he can by quizzing me on the material that I already have 
> studied at least.  But my supervisor seems to be making no effort to help 
> in my preparation for this "do-or-die" exam.  (I should add that I have 
> to have passed this exam by January 1997 at the latest..)  Should I bring 
> up the subject with my supervisor or just drop the matter and try to get 
> things settled all on my own?
> Thanks for any comments..
> Carmelle V. Remillard
> -lost in Montreal!!

Deborah Britt, Ph.D.
Department of Medical Oncology
Rhode Island Hospital

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