The preliminary exam
All students in the group are required to pass a written preliminary examination that tests undergraduate-level understanding of the fundamental concepts in the field. The exam consists of three parts:
- Quantum Mechanics at the level of "Introduction to Quantum Mechanics", by D. J. Griffiths (example syllabus: 137.pdf)
- Electrodynamics at the level of "Introduction to Electrodynamics", by D. J. Griffiths (example syllabus: 110.pdf)
- Classical Mechanics at the level of "Classical Mechanics" by J. R. Taylor (example syllabus: 105.pdf)
Prior to the Fall of 2018, the exam will be offered once or twice a year, at the discretion of the Prelim committee (see details below). The exam may be taken once each time it is offered, but must be passed no later than the start of the fourth semester.
Beginning in the Fall of 2018, the exam will be offered only once per year, on the Saturday before instruction begins, and must be passed no later than the start of the third year (i.e. a graduate student has at most three tries). Incoming graduate students are encouraged to take the exam at the start of the first semester. Students need to pass each part individually but not necessarily at the same time. A student may, however, be deemed to have passed the exam outright if, at any one attempt, their overall performance in all three sections is good enough. Students who have not passed the exam by the start of their third semester may be subject to dismissal.
- Fall 2017: 9/23/2017 (Saturday)
- Spring 2018: TBD (may not be offered)
- Fall 2018: 8/18/2018 (Saturday)
- Fall 2019: 8/24/2019 (Saturday)
A selection of past exams from different years can be found here: