What are Oral Exams in Graduate School?

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Oral Exams in Graduate SchoolGraduate school exams are always harder than any previous exams, but qualifying oral exams are extremely difficult. Oral exams are given so that the board can make sure that the student is knowledgeable, able to process information and able to research and reach conclusions on his own. Getting a doctorate degree is not an easy task, and that is something that should be remembered when preparing for a qualifying oral exam.

Qualifying Oral Exams

The qualifying oral exam is given to students who are in their final year of graduate school. The exam is given after the written exam, after the student turns in his thesis and before the student is allowed to graduate with his doctorate degree. The whole concept of the oral exam is to find out if the graduating candidate can think on his feet and whether or not he knows what he should.

Oral Exam Cons

If you have made it to graduate school, you know how to complete a written exam. The hardest part about the oral exam is that the board who is grading you does not care what you do know. As soon as you begin to show them that you know what you are talking about, they move on to another question. If you falter or fumble, they will remain in that area. This exam is meant to not only ensure that capable people are receiving their doctorate degrees, but also to remind the students that they do not know everything. Even though they are graduating, they should still continue their studies. According to the American Geophysical Union, the qualifying oral exam is an exam that should be taken extremely seriously, because of the nature of the questions and answers.

What the Results Mean

While many colleges use the oral exam as a way to weed out the students who shouldn't be there, there are a few colleges that allow students to take the exam multiple times. The school that you are considering is where you will need to go to find out what to expect of the exam results. There are schools that will ask you to leave if you fail, and there are schools that will recommend coursework based on your strengths and weaknesses. Depending on how you use the information that is given to you, you should be able to find a graduate school that best suits your testing abilities.

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The qualifying oral exam has left most students dumbfounded and speechless upon submission. The oral exam will take place in front of a committee of people who may or may not be interested in your answers, people who may or may not get along with each other and people who typically make you feel inferior anyway, so it is important to be prepared, well-rested and to know your stuff. If you cannot go into the exam certain of yourself, it is likely that you will not come out of the exam with a passing grade.