Reading Lists for the Comprehensive Examination
from English Department Policies Manual: Student Policies: Graduate Program
All masters students in English must pass two examinations: a preliminary exam on literary analysis and a comprehensive exam on literature and the student's area of specialty. All exams will be given once each term: fall, spring, and summer.
The Placement Test. The Placement Test replaces the old Preliminary Examination. The Placement Test is given every August the week before the start of fall classes. Students new to the Master's program and those who have yet to take or pass the old Preliminary Examination must take this new examination. Students are excused from the Placement Exam under two circumstances only:
- They have earned a grade of "B" or better in English 304 (Introduction to Writing About Literature) at Pittsburg State University.
- They have "preempted" the Exam by enrolling in English 304.
Students will be given about 90 minutes to perform a detailed explication of a short formal poem. Students performing satisfactorily on the Placement Test will have shown they have at least the basic tools for conducting textual analysis at an advanced level; students who do not perform satisfactorily will be asked to enroll in English 304 (Introduction to Writing About Literature) in order to acquire the analytical skills necessary for success in graduate-level literature courses. (If enrollment in 304 creates a schedule conflict, the student should talk to the instructor for the course.)
Students who are unable to take the Placement Test at the scheduled time are responsible for contacting the Graduate Director and making other arrangements.
Comprehensive Exam. The comprehensive exam is based on the master's reading list, which is distributed to students when they enter the English graduate program. The reading list is divided into five parts (see the paragraph below for a description). In the term prior to the semester in which they intend to sit for the exam, students select three parts of the reading list, at least two literature sections and one additional section of their choice, upon which to be examined. Selections are made with the guidance and approval of the Director of English Graduate Studies and a faculty mentor. Students are allowed approximately one hour to complete each section of the exam on each testing date.
Students must pass all three parts in order to receive the M. A. degree in English. A student who passes two parts but fails one part may retake the part not passed in the same term or in any subsequent term. A student who fails two or more parts must retake the entire exam in a subsequent term. Any retake in the same term or in a subsequent term shall count as an attempt. Unless a student has passed two sections of the exam and is attempting a retake of the third section, any student sitting for the comprehensive on a given test date shall be considered to have attempted all three parts.
A student who receives a copy of any portion of the comprehensive exam from the exam proctor shall be considered to have attempted all three parts of the exam, even if that student does not write and turn in an answer to one or more parts of the exam. A student is limited to three attempts to pass the exam. Anyone who does not pass all three parts of the exam in three attempts shall be dropped from the program.
Current Thesis Information is from the Office of Continuing and Graduate Studies