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Comprehensive Exam


exam answers
Your exam answers should demonstrate an easy familiarity with the subject of the question, argue a coherent thesis, and support that thesis with sound textual evidence. Your exam answers should also demonstrate competence in writing skills. Successfully written exams will score an average of 3 on the writing rubric provided with this syllabus.

The Comprehensive Exam for Your Master of Humanities Degree at Tiffin University
In order to fulfill your degree requirements for Tiffin Universitys Master of Humanities program, you need to complete either a Comprehensive Exam (HUM 681) or a Capstone Project (HUM 680). Youre eligible to register for one of these courses once youve completed twenty-one hours of coursework at Tiffin University. This course, HUM 681, is the Comprehensive Exam option. In preparation for your exam, you and your peers will spend the semester reviewing the topics and texts that youve studied at TU in order to focus them into two or three areas that reflect your specific interests. Youll develop a reading list and your own questions as a result of your review. Two weeks before the end of the semester, your instructors will send you at least seven questions covering these areas. The instructors questions will be based on your questions but will not be identical to them. Youre to select three questions to answer, writing seven to ten page answers for each question. You will submit your answers in a single Word, .pdf, or .rtf file to a designated folder in before midnight on the last day of the semester.

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Why you shouldnt fear the exam

Really, youve already done this before

1. You will spend the semester developing your two to three areas of interest, your reading list, and their questions, so your instructors won't be springing questions upon you about unexpected subjects or readings. Your questions will be focused upon a reading list and critical approach or methodology of your choice. 2. You will be given at least seven questions at the end of the semester to answer, but you are only required to answer three of them, so you can skip questions that don't work for you. 3. You will have to write seven to ten page answers to the three questions of your choice during the last two weeks of class, which is about a twenty- to thirty-page paper in two weeks. That's what you often had to do in your regular graduate seminars. However, it's not really a single, coherent twenty-page paper, but rather three shorter papers. 4. Your writing will be held to "average" expectations for graduate student writing, which is about a three on most measures of the WIC rubric. Because it's quick writing, though, you won't be held to the standards of finished academic writing. We expect your writing to be coherent, correct, and organized, but not highly polished or publishable.

Q: Who will be reviewing my exam? A: Each section of HUM 681 will have two instructors assigned to it. We will try to group students and instructors by concentrations when possible. These instructors will be your guides throughout the semester as you think about and prepare for your exam. Both instructors will score your exam at the end of the semester. Q: What if I cant finish my exam in the time allotted? A: Thats the only scary part of the exam process: you have to finish it in one semester. Since its a timed exam (two weeks), youre not allowed to take an incomplete. If you dont submit your work by the time that the folder closes, you will receive a grade of F for the exam. You will also, of course, receive a grade of F if you plagiarize or otherwise violate Tiffin Universitys academic honesty policy (see the Student Handbook). If you have significant extenuating circumstances, however, document them, inform your instructors as soon as possible (NOT after the final due date), and your instructors will consider allowing you to withdraw from the course so that you can retake the course at a better time. You will, however, have to retake the course from scratch. 2 lorem ipsum :: [Date]

syllabus: HUM 681



the rules well go by

How the Comprehensive Exam will work:

1. You will spend the semester reviewing and organizing your reading, discussing your process of exploration and your choices with your peers on weekly discussion board posts. 2. You will base your exam on your reading and course of study at Tiffin University, focusing it on two to three areas of study. One should be your concentration if you declared a concentration. 3. You will write seven or more sample test questions or exam topics three weeks before the end of the semester and submit them to your instructors. 4. Your instructors will write seven individualized sets of test questions and distribute them to each student. 5. You will select three of these questions and write seven to ten page answers to them. 6. You will submit your answers in a single Word, .rtf, or .pdf file to a designated folder in by midnight the last day of the semester. Follow MLA style in all writing for this class. 7. Your work will be graded following the WIC and content/thesis rubrics integrated into and posted in this syllabus.

Summing Up What Youve Read So Far

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Weekly Schedule
Week 1: Review of course structure, course policies, and student/faculty introductions. Students should post an introduction to the appropriate threaded discussion by Wed. midnight. Please respond to at least two of your peers by Friday midnight. See the Threaded Discussion rubric posted to the course page for grading policies on all threaded discussion posts. Week 2: By midnight Sunday, write out a list of all of the courses youve taken in TUs M.Hum. program in outline form in a Word or .rtf document. If you chose a concentration, indicate it in a header at the top of the page. Organize this list by topic. Topics might include art, communication, creative writing, film, history, literature, mythology, philosophy, or others. This list will serve as the base document from which you think through your exam topics. Under each class, list the primary texts that you read. If you used an anthology, dont just list the anthology list the specific readings drawn from it. Finally, list these topics in the order of greatest interest. Your instructors will pick two to three topics to form the core of your exam. They will try to select your top choices, but may have to move down the list a little depending upon their expertise. Post this document to the appropriate threaded discussion on, explaining what interests you about these topics and how they will contribute to your future development as a scholar and professional. Respond to two of your peers posts by midnight Friday. 4

Week 3: Review the papers that you wrote for the courses in your top three areas and write 100 word abstracts of each of your papers in the first of your areas. List the abstracts in a separate Word file organized by area of study and course name. Identify the most significant secondary sources as well what scholarly sources helped you the most? Post this Word document to the appropriate threaded discussion with a description of which paper in each area was the most meaningful to you and why. Week 4: Same as Week 3 for the second of your three areas. Week 5: Same as Week 3 for the third of your three areas. Week 6: Identify the seven most important primary texts and the five most important secondary texts in your first of three areas and write 100 word summaries of each one. Week 7: Same as Week 6 for the second of your three areas. Week 8: Same as Week 6 for the third of your three areas. Week 9: Its time to add an interdisciplinary component to your thought: write 250 word paragraphs describing the intersections of areas one with

two, two with three, and three with one. Week 10: Now its time to start developing questions. Write two to three questions for area one. These questions shouldnt be factual only, but should encourage the development of a thesis that requires a sustained argument to support. Your questions can be focused on a single area (about specific authors in English), or they can be topical and cross your areas (e.g. Women in Art and Literature of the Early Modern period). Week 11: Same as Week 10 for area two. Week 12: Same as Week 10 for area three. Week 13: Youll be emailed your exam questions in Word format by midnight Sunday of this week. If you cant read Word documents, be sure to inform your instructors. Week 14: You should be working busily on your questions. Week 15: Upload seven to ten page answers to three of your test questions to by midnight on the last day of class. Remember, there are no extensions or incompletes. If youre late and do not submit your work on time you will receive a grade of F for the class.

The Comprehensive Exam will demonstrate your mastery of and engagement with your fields of study.
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Writing Rubric
Characteristics of an A paper: The A paper is a highly sophisticated paper that supports an original thesis with a complex argument that skillfully and correctly integrates substantial outside research. The A paper demonstrates not only substantial understanding of primary and secondary reading but the ability to advance knowledge with its insight into the material. It has few or no grammatical or punctuation errors -- no more than three or four for every five pages of writing -- and maintains a highly academic tone that correctly and effectively employs fieldspecific language. Paper is insightful, thought-provoking, and complex, and it is carefully argued, developed, and supported. Thesis is specific, significant, arguable, and wellwritten; it gives the reader a "roadmap" to the paper and leads the reader to think differently about the subject. Characteristics of a B paper: The B paper fulfills all requirements of the assignment. It meets or exceeds research requirements effectively, demonstrating comprehension of all sources. It properly documents its sources with no more than two or three citation errors. It is almost free of grammatical or punctuation errors, having no more than one or two errors per page, but while highly competent, the B paper lacks the insight and linguistic competence characterizing the A essay. Paper is very thoughtful and engaging but may not rise to the "superior" level in complexity, argumentation, development, or support. Thesis is promising but could be more

specific, significant, and/or better written. The importance of thesis may need to be better explained and its implications more fully drawn out. In these papers, the conclusion simply restates the thesis suggested at the beginning of the paper rather than developing its thought. Characteristics of a C paper: The average college-level paper will receive a grade of C. This paper is written well enough to be easy to follow, but could benefit from some restructuring or additional paragraphs. It meets minimum assignment requirements for research and other elements and integrates sources correctly following the most basic requirements of the assigned documentation style; in-text citations are clearly keyed to the references, bibliography, or works cited page. It demonstrates basic reading comprehension of both primary and secondary sources. It may have some minor punctuation, capitalization, grammatical, or spelling errors or some use of informal language but is generally appropriate and correct. Paper meets all requirements, but ideas are basic, obvious, and/or overly generalized; they may lack careful explanation and support. It may have one promising idea that may need to be more carefully thought out or developed. Thesis is adequate but may not demonstrate a high level of critical thinking or provide an adequate blueprint for the paper. It may be significantly lacking in one of the three qualities of being specific, significant, or arguable.

Characteristics of a D paper: The D paper is deficient in one or more of the following areas: structure/organization, research, reading comprehension, documentation, word choice, grammar, or punctuation, capitalization, or spelling. The grade of D indicates belowaverage achievement in organizing ideas, expressing ideas, understanding sources, writing correctly, or following documentation style. Most D papers contain serious errors in usage and fail to present a central thesis or to develop it adequately. Paper is limited in some way: (1) fails to meet all requirements; (2) lacks focus; (3) is uninsightful, unconvincing or underdeveloped; (4) does not successfully argue a thesis that fulfills the assignment. Paper may be limited in more than one of these ways. Thesis is weak; makes only a generic claim, an obvious claim, or an insignificant claim. The paper may be summarizing sources without stating any thought beyond its sources. These essay standards summarize the Writing Intensive Class rubric created by Dr. Jim Rovira and Dr. Sherry Truffin in the summer of 2011. The rubric itself is integrated into and will be used to score your papers.

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Why an Exam?
Comprehensive exams serve two purposes: 1) They demonstrate a students mastery of a body of knowledge, and 2) They demonstrate a students critical thinking about a body of knowledge. A successful exam will get its facts right about its primary and secondary texts. It will know the authors, content, themes, genres, summarize the students chosen texts, or they might argue a thesis indistinguishable from secondary sources, so that the students choice of scholarly works argues the students thesis for the student. Or the student may argue a thesis, but may not coherently support it from his or her chosen primary and secondary texts. In a successfully written exam, the student argues his or her own thesis, supporting this argument from both primary and secondary texts. Readers should learn something new from student answers. Furthermore, the process of developing and writing exam

What will I get out of a Comprehensive Exam?

and theses of these works. It will also demonstrate a students ability to think creatively and critically about these texts. Substandard exam answers might primarily

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questions is excellent practice for those who wish to teach humanities subjects at the high school and community college levels. While instructors at these institutions may not be responsible for producing published works, they will often have to write test

GRADE SCALE A AB+ B BC+ C CD+ D DF 93-100 90-92 87-89 83-86 80-82 77-79 73-76 70-72 67-69 63-66 60-62 59 or below

questions and essay prompts that should be designed to encourage students to think critically and creatively about their subjects. Thinking through your own questions will help you learn to think through questions for your future students.