Graduate Students Urge Changes in Comprehensive Exams

The Battle of the Blue Book 1

Stephen B. Thornton for The Chronicle

Jay Ruud, chairman of the English department at the U. of Central Arkansas, says faculty members debated for years before changing the comprehensive examinations.

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close The Battle of the Blue Book 1

Stephen B. Thornton for The Chronicle

Jay Ruud, chairman of the English department at the U. of Central Arkansas, says faculty members debated for years before changing the comprehensive examinations.

Graduate students and professors are increasingly asking whether the dreaded comprehensive examinations, which can make or break the completion of an advanced degree, should be trashed.

Some professors firmly believe the tests play an important role in upholding academic standards, particularly in the humanities, and are needed to weed out students who have not mastered the ability to think or write critically about their field of study.

But others, including some faculty