Comprehensive Exam Question Pool
ATTENTION: This pool of questions has been extended to include the Fall 2012 comprehensive exam scheduled for October 19th.
Background information: The following list forms a pool of study questions for MPA students for the 2011-12 academic year. Please note that such a list of questions is unusual in comprehensive exams: it is provided as a courtesy. However, the Department reserves the right to adjust the questions administered at any time without notice. Because students have fore-knowledge of the questions being asked, please be aware that the essays are expected to be (a) very well organized and well written, (b) fully discussed, and (c) highly focused. Common reasons for students failing a question are: the answer jumps around or it seems like an “information dump,” the answer has some good points but is too brief, the answer includes a lot of extraneous material, the answer is simplistic and conceptualized at an undergraduate level rather than a graduate level, or the student fails to answer all parts of a question fully. It is strongly recommended that you DO: study for the comps by selecting your strong areas, prepare in all four areas with outlines and examples, be able to summarize the thrust of your argument in one sentence, and practice writing out at least one question per area. It is recommended that you do NOT: try to memorize answers, rely too heavily on the model answers of other students (the copy-of-a-copy principle applies here), come into the exam tired, and put off studying until the last minute.
Format of exam: You will be provided with a list of eight questions on the morning of the exam, one from each core area. You will select four questions from the list. The test is closed book. You will be able to type your questions in a computer lab but you will not have access to the internet. Typing is preferred but you may handwrite the exam. Two readers independently read exams and provide an overall high pass, pass, or fail. Disagreements go to a third reader. Graders generally fail a student based on a single failing answer, but in rare cases they may still pass a student with a failing answer when other answers are excellent. A student may retake the exam one time. If there is any question of test security whatsoever, you will be required to retake the examination.