The Written Qualifier Exam

The purpose of the written examination is to evaluate the student's preparation in physics for independent research. It will consist of 5 distinct papers, in 4 core topic areas (Mechanics, E&M, Thermal Physics and Quantum Mechanics) and one of "contemporary" physics. To pass the written part of the qualifier a student must pass all 5 papers, but not necessarily at the same sitting. Students are only required to take those papers they have not yet passed. Each of the 4 core topic papers will include one basic question (35 points) at the freshman/sophomore level and one intermediate question (65 points) at the junior/senior undergraduate level. The contemporary physics paper will comprise 6 questions, one each in the six different subject areas - Atmospheric Physics, Astrophysics, Atomic and Molecular Physics, Condensed Matter Physics, Nuclear and Particle Physics and Optics.  Students may attempt any two subject areas.  Each of the two subject areas will be marked pass/fail separately.  If a student passes one subject area and fails the other, in a future test he/she will only be required to pass one (different) subject area to gain a pass in contemporary physics. Contemporary physics questions will largely be at the undergraduate level.

More details about the written qualifier exam can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.


Sample exams,