Oral Exams

Oral Exams

Preparing For and Passing Candidacy, Qualifying, and Graduate Defenses

1st Edition - September 22, 2015

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  • Author: Lee Foote
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128026717
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128025789

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Oral Exams: Preparing For and Passing Candidacy, Qualifying, and Graduate Defenses provides guidance on how to prepare for oral comprehensive and viva voce exams. Topics discussed include the supervisory committee, preparing the seminar, arranging content, mental preparation, question framing, and the types of questions to expect. At its core, the book prepares students to be the best they can be by offering insights into how to interpret and appropriately respond to explicit and implied oral comps questions. This book benefits faculty by helping them prepare new questions, also providing tips on how to mentor their students in preparation for exams. The training included can be used to prepare for intensive qualifying or certification exams, job interviews, and presentations.

Key Features

  • Describes in detail the general format of oral comprehensive exams, viva voce examinations and defenses, what to expect, and what the requirements are that students need to fulfill to pass.
  • Includes appendices with numerous practice questions sourced from a range of disciplines and countries for individual or group learning
  • Useful for Early Career academics that are supervising, supporting, and examining PhD students


Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in every discipline

Table of Contents

    • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 1. Introduction
      • Exam Types
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 2. Why an Oral Exam?
      • Intent and History of Oral Exams
      • Types of Oral Exams in Academia
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 3. Knowing Why You Are Undertaking Graduate Study
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 4. Nerves
      • The Physiology of Nervousness
      • Overcoming Nervousness
      • Visualization Exercises
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 5. What Will I Be Asked in This Exam?
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 6. Managing Supervisory Committees
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 7. Preparation Time!
      • Graduate Students
      • Textbooks
      • Important Books and Papers
      • The Last Five Papers Published by Each Committee Member
      • Key Word Searches
      • Memorization Matrices
      • Flash Cards
      • Your Committee
      • Previous Exam Questions
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 8. Exam Day Preparations
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 9. Positioning, Personality, and Presumption
      • Wounded Bird
      • Foghorn Leghorn
      • The Honey Badger
      • The Clever Coyote
      • The Dependable Hound
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 10. Choreography of an Oral Exam
      • The Roles of Committee Members
      • Order of the Exam
      • Committee Deliberations Following the Exam
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 11. Execution—Controlling Your Failures and Successes
      • Presenting Yourself
      • Critical Listening
      • Discrimination
      • Correcting Mistakes
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 12. Managing Time During the Exam
      • Structuring Answers
      • Bridging to Your Comfort Topics
      • How Much Detail to Put Into Answers?
      • The Impossible Question
      • Promote Your Work; Promote Yourself
      • Hitting the End of Your Rope
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 13. The Professor’s Perspective
      • A Personal Note
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 14. Managing Delivery and Handling Disagreements
      • What If the Exam Is Not in Your Native Language?
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 15. Outcomes and Options for Moving Forward
      • What If The Decision Is “Fail”?
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 16. One for the Professors and Committee Members
      • Conditions That Can Work Against Students
      • How to Reduce Failure Traps for Students
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 17. The Pivotal Role of Chairing an Oral Exam Committee
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 18. Other Oral Exams—Job Interviews, Boards, Hearings, Testimony
      • Research, Teaching, or Academic Job Interviews
      • Medical Board Exams
      • Parliamentary, Legislative, and Senate Testimony
      • Expert Witness
      • Chapter Notes
    • Chapter 19. Conclusion
      • Chapter Notes
    • Appendix I
      • Wildcard and Old Standard Questions
      • Synthetic Questions
      • Questions Requiring Illustration, Written Formulae, or Visuals
      • Theory Questions
      • Philosophy
      • Statistical and Quantitative
      • Conceptual (Mostly Natural Sciences)
      • General Science
      • Natural Resources and Ecology
      • Wildlife Ecology
      • Aquatic and Marine Ecology
      • Microbiology
      • Genetics
      • Archeology
      • Veterinary Science
      • Fisheries Science
      • Chemistry
      • Psychology
      • Range Science
      • Resource Economics
      • Geochemistry
      • Sociology
    • Appendix II
    • Appendix III
    • References
    • Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 202
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2015
  • Published: September 22, 2015
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128026717
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128025789

About the Author

Lee Foote

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor and Director, Devonian Botanic Garden, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

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