How to Prepare for and Pass Graduate School Oral Exams (qualifying exams and defenses)
Presented by Dr. Lee Foote, Professor, University of Alberta
Author of Oral Exams: Preparing for and passing candidacy, qualifying, and graduate defenses (2016) Academic Press
Friday, March 13, 2020
Norsemen Inn, Salon A
Most graduate students worry about their graduate oral exams – particularly, how to best prepare, how to manage nervousness, what they will be asked, how to frame answers appropriately, and basically what their committee considers satisfactory. Unfortunately, the available advice thus far has consisted of highly variable guidance from professors, scary internet tales, and graduated students’ horror stories. In this short workshop we will change all of that with insights and compiled advice from many faculty members across a dozen disciplines and universities. This information is available in my recent book, the contents of which will be outlined in workshop format to address the most common exam concerns. This casual and interactive ½ hour presentation will give you the tools to understand committee selection and dynamics; recognize the types of questions you can expect; give specific advice on framing oral answers; describe techniques for handling baffling questions; describe preparation time frames and techniques; and provide a description of “the bar” over which successful students must pass. By following this advice it is unthinkable that you won’t succeed in defending a worthwhile proposal or thesis. The information is crucial for both qualifying exams and defenses as well as expert testimony, board oral exams, and framing answers in a courtroom.
How to select a good committee?
How to prepare for questions?
How to frame a 3-minute descriptive answer?
How to address the impossible/unfair/trick/unknown question?
What about antagonistic questioners?
What are committee members really looking for to pass you?
I will also invite questions and discussion afterward about your specific conundrums.