Passing the general exam
Also see the Official
Guidelines for the General Examination.
Kevin Hinshaw's notes
WHAT I DID
- strategy: related work for my thesis
- looked at lots of papers
- worked on rough outline with advisor (iterative)
- advisor wrote charge, committee approved
- strengths and weaknesses of different methods
- apply ideas elsewhere
- stress, stress, stress
- taking forever to finish
(you will never feel ready to start!)
- finished quals: Dec. '94
- committee set up: Sep. '95
- candidate papers: Oct. '96
- got charge: Dec. '96
- start exam period: Jan. '97
- talk: May. '97
- 60-70 papers read (too many?)
- 27 refs
- 10 key papers
- 5 assigned
- 23 pages (double-spaced)
- notes/summaries as you go
- slows you down, but it's worth it!
- narrow topic
- practice talk!
- plan some time off afterwards
- you know more than you think you do :)
- don't have to give all papers equal emphasis
(some might not fit)
- make sure you know what your committee expects
- do a little reading every day
- set up a committee ASAP!
- contact grad faculty rep and introduce yourself
- plan ahead when scheduling talk
- committee approval: 4 months before exam
- study period: 2-3 quarters?
- exam period: 4 months max (1 month extension by petition)
- talk: 1/2 hour (but schedule 2 hours)
Marc Friedman's notes
When to do generals?
- Dead time after camera-ready paper done?
- After quals?
- Before thesis?
Focus on your weakness.
- Need to flesh out a thesis topic.
- Need to write the related work section of your thesis.
- Want to explore a new area.
- Reading, paper, talk.
What do you want out of it?
- Expand your breadth into a new area?
- Write a chapter of your thesis?
- Get to know some profs for recommendations purposes.
Committee feel about generals?
- Just a pain in the butt?
- Time to get your related work section in order?
- Flesh out thesis research questions?
Don't put the charge before the horse
- You will probably write your own charge
- You'll know when you're ready
- You've done this before
- One difference: future work section
- Paper is just notes cobbled together
Back to Advice compiled by Michael Ernst.