Graduate Exam Procedures

The following procedures were used for a trial period for the exams of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. They are now standard policy for Fall 2011 and beyond, unless further changed by the Department. These procedures apply to Classics MA and PhD exams; they do not apply to students in the Classical Archaeology program.

1. All written exams, both MA and PhD, except the the Prose Composition exams (see 5 below), will be prescheduled to be given on the four weekdays preceding the first day of class of each semester, following a fixed order that will be modified only in unusual circumstances. Namely, modification of the standard template will be contemplated only when a candidate is also a first-time GSI and thus is obligated to attend the GSI training on a specific day. The standard template will not be modified to suit travel plans or personal preferences. In general, a student should make any travel plans to ensure being back in Berkeley the day before Day 1 on the schedule, since there may be times when an adjustment is needed.

2. Signup for exams will have a deadline of May 1 for August exams and December 1 for January exams. The Graduate SAO will solicit signups with an initial email and with a reminder in April and November. Students will be reminded that if they will be teaching for the first time during the coming semester (and thus must attend GSI training), they should mention this fact when signing up for the exam.

3. As soon as possible after May 1 or December 1 the Graduate SAO will inform the exam committee chairs which exams are needed, and the committees will draft and approve exams by the end of the semester in May or December.

4. The standard schedule will be:

  • August (the first class of fall semester is on Wednesday: Aug. 22, 2018)
    • Day 1 = Tuesday of preceding week = Aug. 14, 2018
    • Day 2 = Wednesday of preceding week  = Aug. 15, 2018
    • Day 3 = Thursday of preceding week  = Aug. 16, 2018
    • Day 4 = Friday of preceding week  = Aug. 17, 2018
  • January (the first class of spring semester, following MLK holiday, is on Tuesday: Jan. 16, 2017)
    • Day 1 = Tuesday of preceding week = Jan. 9, 2018
    • Day 2 = Wednesday of preceding week = Jan. 10, 2018
    • Day 3 = Thursday of preceding week = Jan. 11, 2018
    • Day 4 = Friday of preceding week = Jan. 12, 2018

5. Prose Composition Exams are take-home exams picked up at noon on Friday and due at noon on Monday and thus cannot be administered on a three-day weekend. They are therefore scheduled as follows: Fall: weekend following first week of classes: August 24-27, 2018 [NOTE: if first weekend turns out to be Labor Day Weekend, these exams will be delayed to the second weekend following the beginning of classes. Spring: weekend following first week of classes: January 19-21, 2018

6. Late signup: (1) if an exam has already been created, a student who has not signed up for that exam by the usual deadline may sign up late. The late signup must be submitted to the Graduate SAO no later than two days before the scheduled time of that exam. If an exam has not been scheduled because no one signed up by the deadline, that exam will not be available for late signup. Furthermore, a student who signs up late must be able to take the exam at the previously scheduled time and cannot request any modification to avoid a conflict. (2) Upon arrival, and after consultation with the Graduate Adviser, entering students may sign up late for one Modern Language in August (if they feel well qualified in two languages, they may take the second one in January). If the requested exam has not yet been prepared, the request must be made at least 7 calendar days before the scheduled time of the exam. If the requested exam has already been prepared, the late signup should occur no later than two days before the scheduled time of that exam.

7. Withdrawal from exam after signing up: should circumstances not work out the way a student expects, a student may withdraw from the exam up to the day before the exam.

8. Restrictions on simultaneous exams: (1) In normal circumstances it will not be possible to take two Modern Language exams in one term. (2) A student doing a Greek MA may not attempt any PhD Greek Translation exam until the semester after passing the Greek MA Translation exam. A student doing a Latin MA may not attempt any PhD Latin Translation exam until the semester after passing the Latin MA Translation exam.

8. Unused exams: an exam that has been prepared and turns out not to be used will be retained securely by the Graduate SAO for use on the next relevant occasion.

9. Changes of exam committee personnel: As the exam committees change from year to year (sometimes from semester to semester), they have the right to review exams composed and approved by a previous committee (retained unused exams, or regularly the August exams prepared the previous May) and to modify or replace them, but they are under no obligation to do so. Any such modification is to be completed one full week before the beginning of the exam schedule. It is recommended that the outgoing committee chair remind the incoming committee chair of this provision.

10. Extraordinary third offering of exams: while the Modern Language exams will continue to offered for a third time toward the end of each Spring semester, other exams are offered only twice per year (as above) except in specific urgent situations related to timely advancement to candidacy for normative time or timely completion of the MA.

  • 1. A PhD student in the 10th semester who has not yet passed all PhD translation exams may, no later than April 1, petition the Graduate Adviser for a special administration of the remaining one or two exams. If more than two exams are undone, no petition will be allowed. Before granting the petition, the Graduate Adviser must discuss the student’s dossier and previous exams with the chair of the PhD committee and both must agree that the student appears to have been close enough on previous attempts, or has shown other evidence of progress (such as strong work in a survey course or in a seriously pursued reading tutorial) that the student can be judged to have a significant likelihood of passing on the next attempt. If the petition is granted, the committee will prepare an exam and administer it only to the student(s) approved by petition. No other student may join in the sitting for a May exam.
  • 2. An MA student in the 4th semester who has passed all MA exams except one may, no later than April 1, petition the Graduate Adviser for a special administration of the remaining exam. If more than one exam is undone, no petition will be allowed. Before granting the petition, the Graduate Adviser must discuss the student’s dossier and previous exams with the chair of the MA committee and both must agree that the student appears to have been close enough on previous attempts, or has shown other evidence of progress (such as strong work in a survey course or in a seriously pursued reading tutorial) that the student can be judged to have a significant likelihood of passing on the next attempt. If the petition is granted, the committee will prepare an exam and administer it only to the student(s) approved by petition. No other student may join in the sitting for a May exam.