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Cumulative examinations will be held in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry four times during the Fall Semester between 7:00 - 10:00 p.m.

Cumulative Examination Policies

Cumulative examinations are given eight times per academic year (approximately one per month) in each of the following emphasis areas: analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. The exams are three hours in duration, and all exams are offered concurrently. Students may take any of the examinations that they wish, but may only take one exam during a given examination session.
Each exam is graded out of three points. A total of ten points is required in order to pass the cumulative exams. At least five of these points must be earned in a single one of the four emphasis areas (analytical, inorganic, organic, or physical chemistry). In addition, individual research advisors may require that their students complete a greater fraction of the ten required points in a particular emphasis area as a condition of remaining in that research group.
Students may begin taking cumulative exams as early as the first semester of graduate study. The cumulative exams must be completed by the end of the sixth semester of full-time graduate study. If the requisite ten points are not obtained by the end of the sixth semester, the student will be deemed to have failed the cumulative examinations, and will have failed to qualify for the Ph.D. degree. Individual research advisors may also require that students complete the cumulative examinations on a more accelerated schedule as a condition of remaining in that research group.
In the event that a student switches from an M.S. degree program to a Ph.D. degree program, any points earned on cumulative exams while a M.S. student may be used towards passing the cumulative exam requirement for the Ph.D. degree. In such an event the student will have two years from the time of starting the Ph.D. program to obtain the remaining points required to pass the cumulative exams. If a student fails to pass the qualifying exam, however, the points from cumulative examinations may not be carried over if the student is ever readmitted to the Ph.D. program.

Analytical Cumulative Examinations
The purpose of the cumes is to test general scholarly knowledge of analytical chemistry, including analytical problem solving, and are a preparation for the oral qualifying exam, which is the second portion of the qualifying exam and is typically given in the semester following passage of the cumes. Successful completion of the cumes and the oral qualifying exam constitutes passage of the PhD qualifying exam, which makes you an official candidate for a PhD.
The cumulative examination topics are at the discretion of the analytical chemistry faculty, but will typically be taken from the A-pages from the most recent 16 months’ issues of the journal Analytical Chemistry. The examinations will range from 3-10 short answer, essay, or calculation questions and will be scored according to the following scale: 75% and up (3-points), 60-74% (2-points), 50-59% (1 point), and less than 50% (0 points).

Inorganic Cumulative Examinations
Topics for each inorganic cumulative examination will be announced by e-mail one week prior to the scheduled exam. The exam will consist of a general question and a literature question and the specific details of the grading format will be spelled out at the beginning of each exam. After a student completes the written cumulative examination requirement, he/she must arrange to take the preliminary oral qualifying exam in the next full semester.

Organic Cumulative Examinations
The examinations shall contain three parts consisting of a literature question, a review or monograph question, and a general question and the student may obtain three points per examination. Each question may be scored as 0, ½, or 1 pt and will contribute to the required 10 pts required for completion of the written portion of the Examination for Admission to Ph.D. candidacy. A score ³ 75% will generally be considered sufficient for awarding 1.0 pt and a score ³ 50% will generally be sufficient for awarding ½ pt. Irrespective of final scoring, the awarding of ½ or 1 pt may be revised downward for egregious errors (e.g., the absence of formal charges, carbocations in basic media, carbanions in acid media, and gross pKa errors as in a proposed deprotonation of carbonyls with Et3N). The literature question will be taken from a current issue of The Journal of Organic Chemistry, Organic Letters, and up to three additional issues of any journal containing articles of interest to organic chemists. The review or monograph question will be taken from an assigned review article, monograph, book, or general topic. The general question may be on any aspect of organic chemistry. The journals, reviews, or monographs shall be listed 30 days prior to the examination on the fourth floor bulletin board in the hallway opposite room 459.
The Journal of Organic Chemistry is available in the current periodical reading room of the Chemistry library. The issue of Organic Letters assigned for the exam will be on reserve in the Reserve and Media Service Area on level 2 of the Cooper library.

Physical Cumulative Examinations
Cumulative exam assignments are made prior to the start of the semester, designating the faculty member within the physical chemistry division assigned to write and grade a cumulative exam on a given date. Topics are chosen by the assigned faculty member and are released to the students two weeks prior to the cumulative exam. The assigned faculty member will often consult the other faculty in the physical division to ensure that exam topics are not repeated often. The format of the cumulative exam is at the discretion of the assigned faculty member. The exam topics can often be classified as: a. General topic (quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, kinetics, etc.) or b. Literature review (Read these N papers, exam questions will be based on these papers. The professor who wrote the exam is responsible for grading the exam and the grading approach is left to the discretion of the assigned professor. Each exam is graded on a scale of 0, 1, 2, or 3 points (no half points are awarded) and the specific details of the grading format will be spelled out at the beginning of each exam.