Qualifying exams info

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

chewy
Posts: 23
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:13 pm

Qualifying exams info

Postby chewy » Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:41 pm

I plan on taking the Qual's in August at my school (1st shot out of 4). There are 6 topics in ours. Though some of the topics I haven't had a course in (mainly optics). I was wondering what the general/standard book was for undergrad optics. I tried looking at the school to see what they use but could not find it. I was thinking that the Qual's (although based on undergrad) are based on (or at least biased) that particular schools undergrad. So it would be best to look at the text books they used for the standard classes.

From undergrad I have this

E&M - Griffiths 3rd ed.
Quantum Mechanics - Griffiths 2nd ed.
Classical Dynamics/Mechanics - Taylor 1st ed.
Thermal Physics - Kittel 2nd ed.
Modern Physics - don't have book (sold undergrad one, not very good)
Optics - no book, never had course (I have had a little in intro, like snells law but thats it).

I know to also study old exams. Ours works 3 sessions (E&M with Optics) (Classical Dynamics with Thermal Physics) (Modern with Quantum). I plan on attempting all three and maybe Im smarter then I think I am :). Like I said earlier, I have 4 shots at each of the three sessions. any other tips. I'm more worried about this then any class I'm taking, or research or TAing I would be doing.

blackcat007
Posts: 378
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:14 am

Re: Qualifying exams info

Postby blackcat007 » Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:07 pm

chewy wrote:I plan on taking the Qual's in August at my school (1st shot out of 4). There are 6 topics in ours. Though some of the topics I haven't had a course in (mainly optics). I was wondering what the general/standard book was for undergrad optics. I tried looking at the school to see what they use but could not find it. I was thinking that the Qual's (although based on undergrad) are based on (or at least biased) that particular schools undergrad. So it would be best to look at the text books they used for the standard classes.

From undergrad I have this

E&M - Griffiths 3rd ed.
Quantum Mechanics - Griffiths 2nd ed.
Classical Dynamics/Mechanics - Taylor 1st ed.
Thermal Physics - Kittel 2nd ed.
Modern Physics - don't have book (sold undergrad one, not very good)
Optics - no book, never had course (I have had a little in intro, like snells law but thats it).

I know to also study old exams. Ours works 3 sessions (E&M with Optics) (Classical Dynamics with Thermal Physics) (Modern with Quantum). I plan on attempting all three and maybe Im smarter then I think I am :). Like I said earlier, I have 4 shots at each of the three sessions. any other tips. I'm more worried about this then any class I'm taking, or research or TAing I would be doing.


If this is of any help, my grad school mentioned 1.Hecht 2.Klein and Furtak for optics.

Good to know someone who is also preparing like me for quals. I have a different route though, since I am not a physics major. I plan to focus majorly on Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics and EM Theory and if time permits Stat Mech since their preparation will also aid me in strengthening the basics for the 1st sem grad core classes. By the way which school will you attend?

arieszen
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:01 am

Re: Qualifying exams info

Postby arieszen » Fri Jun 11, 2010 10:33 am

I was told by my grad school that the quals are to be taken 1 year after classes begin. I didn't even know we were allowed 4 attempts.

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grae313
Posts: 2297
Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 8:46 pm

Re: Qualifying exams info

Postby grae313 » Fri Jun 11, 2010 12:23 pm

arieszen wrote:I was told by my grad school that the quals are to be taken 1 year after classes begin. I didn't even know we were allowed 4 attempts.


Every school has their own policy so every school is a bit different.

User avatar
HappyQuark
Posts: 762
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2009 2:08 am

Re: Qualifying exams info

Postby HappyQuark » Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:46 pm

arieszen wrote:I was told by my grad school that the quals are to be taken 1 year after classes begin. I didn't even know we were allowed 4 attempts.


Every school does things differently, but it is my understanding that the majority of schools give everyone 2 official attempts. If you fail both, you are put on a sort of academic watch/probation and will generally be given a third (and sometimes final) attempt. I haven't heard of a school stating openly that you are allowed 4 attempts, but I suppose it is possible.




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