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Graduate Ph.D. Preliminary Exam
Preliminary Examination Topics
Passing the Exam
All doctoral students must pass a written preliminary exam.
Students entering our Ph.D. program must pass the prelim within three semesters. Students entering into our M.S. program and then switching to the Ph.D. program must pass the prelim within one year of the program change.
This exam is offered twice annually, in mid January and in late August, before or just after the start of classes.
The purpose of the exam is to certify background in the conceptual bases for a few critical areas of undergraduate mathematics. The preliminary exam tests fundamental understanding of calculus and linear algebra.
The exam consists of twelve questions, about four from linear algebra and eight from basic calculus. Students must choose ten questions to be graded. The passing score will be approximately 75 percent and students are given four hours to complete the exam.
If a student submits a score on this GRE test that is at the 80th percentile or higher for that examination, he or she will be excused from having to take the preliminary examination.
The level of difficulty of questions is similar to that of the GRE mathematics subject test, but the topic emphasis is quite different.
Sample Preliminary Exam