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Comprehensive Exam Guidelines

Purpose of the Comprehensive Examination

  1. The exam is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge of selected topics in adult and community education.
  2. In line with the theory-to-practice orientation of the program, students are expected to be able to apply information in the comprehensive exam to the resolution of practical, real-world situations.
  3. Students are expected to be able to cite relevant literature, research, and theory to substantiate their responses in the exam.
  4. Students are expected to be able to write (and in the case of oral exams, speak) in a cogent manner to demonstrate effective communications skills.

Preparing for the Comprehensive Exam

  1. Review the courses you have taken and projects you have completed to identify three to six topics of interest to you. It is suggested that you review course syllabi and calendars, course handouts, textbooks, articles, books, and other readings, papers, and projects you have completed to identify topics for your exam.
  2. Contact your advisor to discuss the comprehensive exam. It is recommended that you contact your advisor at least one semester in advance of when you plan to take the exam in order to give yourself adequate time to prepare.
  3. During the meeting with your advisor, the topics to be covered in your exam will be discussed. You and your advisor will reach an understanding of what topics will be covered on your exam. These are the topics you are to study in preparation for your exam.

Scheduling the Comprehensive Exam

  1. It is your responsibility to contact your advisor to schedule the comprehensive exam. This should be done the semester prior to when you plan to take the exam.
  2. The exams are usually held during the tenth to twelfth week of the semester.

Specific Guidelines for Taking the Exam

  1. Students have a maximum of three hours to complete the comprehensive exam.
  2. No books, notes, or reference materials may taken into the examination room during the exam.
  3. Exams may be hand-written or typed on a computer.
    1. If exams are handwritten, then:
      1. Students must supply their own paper and writing utensils.
      2. All paper, including the exam, notes, and outlines used during the exam, must be turned in upon completion of the exam.
    2. If exams are typed on a computer, then:
      1. Students must supply a disk/CD onto which they will download the exam.
      2. No material relevant to the exam may be on the computer (hard drive, other disks, or internet connections).
      3. Students must turn in the disk with the exam on it as well as a hard copy of the exam.
      4. Students must turn in all other written materials (handwritten or typed), including notes and outlines.
      5. Exams should be double spaced, with 12-point font, and one-inch margins all around.

Grading the Comprehensive Exam

  1. Both faculty members in the department read and grade all of the comprehensive exams.
  2. The exam is graded Outstanding, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory.
  3. Passing the exam (grade of Satisfactory or Outstanding) is required for graduation, and the results of the exam are reported to the Graduate School and become part of your permanent record.
  4. If the faculty determine that performance on the written portion of the exam is satisfactory or outstanding, then the student passes the exam and has completed this part of their program requirements. If performance on the written exam is unsatisfactory, then an oral exam will be scheduled. If performance on the oral exam is satisfactory or outstanding, then the student passes the comprehensive exam. If performance on both the written and oral portions of the exam are unsatisfactory then the student does not pass the comprehensive exam. Options to retake the exam or substitute another activity for the exam will be determined on an individual basis.
  • Adult and Community Education Department
  • Davis Hall, Room 104
    570 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2470
  • Fax: 724-357-3085
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.