Monday, January 14, 2008

Qual #4--Piece of cake

It certainly looks like it. This is going to be the easiest exam ever. Since the exam is from an external member on my committee, his field is very different from mine. Exam questions on his field (which is what I was dreading) would be very tough for me to answer, and I would most certainly do an inadequate job. On the other hand he would not be able to ask or assess questions on my field.

So, he chose a totally different approach, and supplied me with 3 articles from popular science-related magazines, geared towards the general public, and has asked me to critique them. In one case he asks how the problem discussed relates to my own research. In addition he asked some questions about how I see my own future career, and my opinion about my education at this university. Interesting, unexpected, but interesting. Since the questions are largely opinion-oriented, I don't see how I could possibly fail this exam, short of not doing it at all. My answers are limited to 10 lines per question, and I have a full week to complete the exam. Dang, I wish they were all like that. Well, not really. The truth is, I may not have fond memories of the last 3 exams, but I did learn an awful lot. I feel so much smarter than I did 3 months ago. It's too bad that once my oral qualifying exams are behind me, it's all downhill from there on. I will never know that much about my field again.

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