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Comprehensive Exam

General Information

If you are seeking a master's degree with a concentration in school library science in either elementary/middle or secondary education, you are required to complete successfully a written comprehensive examination.
The examination is given in the fall and spring each year. Students must register for the examination at least 30 days in advance by submitting the application form to the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Students who wish to use a computer to take the exam must also submit the computer request form. Submission of this form does not guarantee that you will be able to use a computer to complete your examination.

This examination contains questions that cover the competencies that are found in courses throughout the library science curriculum. To help you prepare for this examination, the faculty has developed a database of questions which are posted on the Web. The rubric which will be used to evaluate your responses is also available on the Web. You should carefully review both the questions and the rubric. For superior work, the reviewers will be looking for content that is comprehensive and reveals knowledge of and treatment of various perspectives on the subject. The content should also be well written and should reflect graduate-level quality (e.g., clear, concise, proper grammar, syntax, spelling and marks of punctuation). When writing responses, it is acceptable include tables, bullets, or other organizers to address specific points in the question. On the day of the examination, you will receive 6 questions from this database and must answer 4 questions. Special accommodations will be made for students with documented disabilities.

Administrative Procedures

On the day of the examination, you must appear at the examination center by 8:15 a.m. and must have photo identification. At that time, you will be assigned a number which you should use throughout the exam. Books and/or other materials must be left at the front of the room. The faculty administering the examination will have dictionaries available for you to use. They will also provide the blue books that are needed. If you have received permission to take your examination on computer, you will need to bring a blank disk with you. When taking the exam, you should place only your number on the outside of the blue book or at the heading of the print-out. Please use a separate blue book or print-out for each question. When you are finished with each question, you should place the question inside the blue book with your answer or attach it to the print-out of your response.

During the exam, you will receive questions in sets of two. The first three questions will be given to you at 8:30 a.m. and must be returned at 10:30 a.m. Of the three that you receive at this time you must select two to answer. After a 20 minute break, you will receive the second set of three questions at 10:50. You must answer two of these questions and submit your answers by 12:50.

Evaluation Procedures

Each comprehensive examination question will be scored by at least two (2) faculty members using the Comprehensive Exam Scoring Sheet. A total of 8 points is needed to pass the examination. If you do not receive passing scores from the first two reviewers, your examination will be reviewed. The highest two scores on each question will be used to compute the final total.

If you fail the comprehensive examination, you may elect to repeat the examination process in accordance with the university procedure the next time that the examination is offered. Following the initial administration, you are limited, by university policy, to one (1) reexamination. If you fail the written comprehensive examination twice, you will not be able to receive the master's degree.

Suggestions for Success

The following are some suggestions that other students have found helpful when studying for the comprehensive examination.

  • Most students perform better when they don't try to memorize the answers verbatim. You may waste valuable time and become anxious when you cannot retrieve a specific word or phrase. Instead, you may want to outline each answer including the key points and examples.
  • Some students prefer to practice their responses in a bluebook or to conduct a mock exam (i.e., put all of the questions in a hat, pull out two and answer them, take a break and then pull out two more). The more familiar you are with the process, the more comfortable and less anxious you will become.
  • You might want to contact other students and have a study group to review the information that will be covered in the examination. Individual students can be responsible for reviewing two or three of the questions in the database and leading a discussion of that question with the whole study group.
  • The quality of your written presentation is critical to your success. Be sure your answer is well formulated and that the mechanics are free of errors (e.g., punctuation, spelling, grammar, and syntax). Dictionaries and thesauruses will be available for your use.