I have some advice for people appearing for comprehensive exam. I request experienced readers to give their suggestions.
- Relax. The examiners in the panel are there to help you and not to settle scores with you. However, they will help you only if you help yourself by preparing well.
- Eat well. Sleep well. This is especially important on the last day. You have to stand and speak for almost 2 hours, which requires a lot of energy. Have a good breakfast on the D-day.
- Suggested by Subramanya: Prepare compre slides much before the exam. Towards the end, the tension increases exponentially and you may not be able to do a good job at creating the presentation.
- Ask your advisor and lab mates for a mock compre. If you are well prepared, this exercise will boost your confidence. If you are not well prepared, you will come to know. Keep 4-5 days between the mock and the final.
- Before submitting the course syllabus, take advice from your seniors who had given the same subjects. They can help you remove some topics that are cumbersome.
- When a course preparation is over, go over the syllabus topic-wise and see if you remember everything related to the topic. This is how some of the questions would be asked.
- Don’t neglect basics — even if your syllabus does not list them.
- Keep at least two copies of the presentation — one on machine, one in pen-drive.
- Check your presentation on the machine and the projector one day before. Some projectors show different colors than your computer-screen. You should know it beforehand.
- Don’t make changes to the presentation on the D-day.
- It is a misconception that everyone clears compre. Although, it may eventually happen, according to me, it is easy to fail in the comprehensive exam at the first attempt and the only way it can happen is not preparing enough. Mock helps you assess yourself.
- Examiners typically give good suggestions towards your research proposal. Note those down just after compre. You will soon forget it in enthusiasm.
- After your comprehensive, visit this post and comment your suggestions :-).