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First and Second Exams

Information about the First and Second Exams can be found on pages 5-8 and 15-17 of the Urban Education Student Handbook. On this page are answers to a couple of FAQ’s.

STUDENT FAQ’s

SFAQ1: What is the First Exam? When do I take it?

The First Exam is a synthetic essay that is meant to demonstrate your understanding of the core courses. According to the Urban Education Handbook,

The exam is a take home exam with two week to complete. The exam is graded on a Pass/Fail basis, and is read by the student’s advisor as well as one of the faculty members who have taught the four core program courses. The exam can be taken during one of the following times (June, August, or January). To schedule the first exam students are to contact the Administrative Program Officer (APO) and their advisor at least 2 weeks prior to the end of the semester. Students will receive feedback by the end of the second week of the semester following the exam submission (p. 6).

You are eligible to take the First Exam after completing all of the core courses with a B average or higher. Generally, this is after the first year of courses. You must pass the First Exam by the time you have completed 45 credits in the program.


SFAQ2: How is the First Exam graded?

The First Exam is assessed on a Pass/Fail basis. The readers will provide comments, as well. The following criteria (found on pages 6-7) are used to assess the exam:

A. Adequacy
– The paper is the required length.
– Spelling, grammar and scholarly tone are appropriate.
– An appropriate style (e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA etc.) is consistently employed.
– Uses an interesting/engaging writing style.

B. Scope
– Coverage of the topic is appropriate.
– All parts of the question are addressed.
– The key themes in the paper are fully developed.
– Synthesis across all core topics is satisfactory.

C. Understanding of Core Course Materials
– The purpose of citations is clear and appropriate.
– Uses specific information from cited works.
– Cites appropriate sources and core course materials.
– Issues are developed in depth.

D. Scholarly Perspective
– The student’s scholarly point of view is clearly articulated.
– Complexity is addressed.
– Demonstrates synthetic understanding
– Student demonstrates and articulates the point of view of scholars cited


SFAQ3: What is the Second Exam? When do I take it?

The Second Exam can take different forms, but it generally includes a written and oral component. The purpose of this exam is to demonstrate your knowledge of your broad field of study and the theories and methods related to your dissertation topic. You are eligible to take the Second Exam when you are close to or after completing all required coursework with a grade of B or higher. This generally takes place in the third or fourth year, and you will need to assemble a faculty committee, so be sure to speak with your advisor to establish a timeline in advance.


SFAQ4: How is the Second Exam graded?

Ask your advisor 🙂 As a written and oral exam, it is also graded on a Pass/Fail basis, but more details about the deliverables should be discussed and clarified with your advisor before you start.


FACULTY FAQ’s

FFAQ1: Who reads First Exams?

Advisors and faculty members who teach core courses are charged with reading First Exams. At least two faculty members will read each exam. If you do not have any advisees and you do not teach core classes, then you will not read First Exams.


FFAQ2: How and when do I give feedback?

You will be required to give written comments on First Exams, which are assessed on a Pass/Fail basis. The following criteria (found on pages 6-7) are used to assess the exam:

A. Adequacy
– The paper is the required length.
– Spelling, grammar and scholarly tone are appropriate.
– An appropriate style (e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA etc.) is consistently employed.
– Uses an interesting/engaging writing style.

B. Scope
– Coverage of the topic is appropriate.
– All parts of the question are addressed.
– The key themes in the paper are fully developed.
– Synthesis across all core topics is satisfactory.

C. Understanding of Core Course Materials
– The purpose of citations is clear and appropriate.
– Uses specific information from cited works.
– Cites appropriate sources and core course materials.
– Issues are developed in depth.

D. Scholarly Perspective
– The student’s scholarly point of view is clearly articulated.
– Complexity is addressed.
– Demonstrates synthetic understanding
– Student demonstrates and articulates the point of view of scholars cited

According to the Urban Education Student Handbook, “The exam can be taken during one of the following times (June, August, or January). To schedule the first exam students are to contact the Administrative Program Officer (APO) and their advisor at least 2 weeks prior to the end of the semester. Students will receive feedback by the end of the second week of the semester following the exam submission (p. 6).” If students take the exam in June or August, you will give feedback by the second week in the Fall semester. If students take the exam in January, you will give feedback by the second week of the Spring semester.


FFAQ3: What do I do about Second Exams?

The Second Exam can take different forms and is developed in collaboration with the student and other members of the student’s committee. For more information, talk to our Executive Officer, Wendy Luttrell, and your colleagues.