Comprehensive Examination Process

The ORLD Doctoral program holds written comprehensive examinations twice a year, in January and August. To be eligible to sit for the comprehensive examination, the student must be in “good academic standing,” that is, the student must have obtained an A or B in all core, research and strand courses and have successfully completed the Practicum and be registered for ORLD 700 (1 credit hour as needed).

Comprehensive Examination Format:

  1. Examination questions reflecting coursework in core, strand and research, as well as the internship, will be submitted from the ORLD faculty.
  2. The examination will be monitored by a proctor who cannot be a grader. Each student will be assigned a number so that “graders” (ORLD faculty) will not know whose examination they are grading. In other words, the comprehensive examination uses a double-blind technique. Up to three graders will assess each question; their scores will be averaged. Averages will not be rounded to the next whole number.
  3. The student may hand-write the examination (exam booklet/paper will be provided) or submit answers via a UMES-provided computer (with only word processing capability). Students may not bring books or other materials into the exam room. The student must inform the ORLD Administrative Assistant two weeks before the examination date whether he/she will use pencil/pen or computer. After this time, the student is not allowed to waver from this test-taking decision unless, on the day of the examination, there are technical difficulties regarding the use of computers.
  4. Room assignment for the exam will be emailed to the student from the ORLD office two (2) weeks before the examination date.
  5. Exams are scheduled to be taken over two days. The exam begins on the afternoon of the first day, in a 3 hour time block [1:00 pm—4:00 pm]. Students are expected to arrive by 12 noon for preliminary information and to prepare for the exam. The exam continues in an 8 hour time block on the second day (3 hours in the morning [9:00 am—12:00 noon]; a one-hour lunch break [12:00 noon to 1:00 pm]; and 3 hours in the afternoon [1:00 pm—4:00 pm]). Students are expected to arrive by 8 am on the second day for preliminary information and to prepare for the exam. Testing will begin and end at the specified times listed above. If the student arrives at a later time, he/she will not be provided extra time to complete the examination.
  6. The exam proctor will distribute one question at 1 pm on the first day (research question). At 9 am on the second day, the proctor will distribute one question (core question). After lunch on the second day, the proctor will distribute one questions at 1 pm (one specialization questions). At the end of each session, the question and answers will be submitted to the proctor. The student cannot revisit submitted responses.
  7. Where students may be provided a choice among the questions to answer, e.g., one of two questions, students who mistakenly respond to both questions will have only the first of the two responses graded. A student may not respond to both questions to attempt to improve the total score for the question. Students must answer questions using the provided ID number – if a student types/writes her/his name on any page of the exam, any question(s) will automatically be marked as a zero and that will count as one attempt.
  8. All questions will be scored on a scale of 1-25. The student must pass EACH question with at least an 80 percent score. In other words, the student must score an average of 20 points or higher to pass each question.
  9. Comprehensive exam questions are designed to assess the student’s knowledge about broad foundational concepts as well as the ability to integrate this knowledge in a manner that graders perceive as indicative of Doctoral status. Graders will expect that the student will cite references according to the 6th or latest edition APA style manual (author, date) throughout his/her writing. There is no required length for a comprehensive examination answer. Passing has to do with quality—not quantity.
  10. Students will be informed in writing of their comprehensive examination score. Usually this process of grading takes between 2-4 weeks. They can also receive upon request a summary of graders’ comments or review the graded examinations by contacting the Program Coordinator’s office.
  11. If a student does not pass all portions of the comprehensive examination, he/she will receive a grade of Unsatisfactory for ORLD 700, and must register for one (1) credit hour in ORLD 700 when sitting again for the comprehensive examination. In the event of failing ANY or ALL of the questions, the student may retake the failed section(s) ONLY once. The second examination attempt will be given no earlier than four months after the first examination and no later than one calendar year from the date of the initial examination. If the student fails the re-taken part the second time (or fails to take the failed examination section(s) within one year), his/her admission status is terminated.
  12.  Only after passing the comprehensive examination is a student eligible to register for dissertation credit hours (ORLD 899) and initiate the Dissertation process. 

Comprehensive Examination Preparation:

1.      Workshop

Studying for the comprehensive examination can be unnerving. Prior to the scheduled dates for the comprehensive examinations the ORLD Doctoral program conducts comprehensive examination workshops (one in April and one in October). The purpose of the workshop is to provide information that will serve as a foundation as students prepare for the comps. 

2.      Studying
Preparing for the comps requires a systematic approach. Here are few tips to get started: form small study groups; speak to students who have taken the exam; organize your notes; practice time management; consider possible challenges; and practice by using old exams.

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