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Qualifying Exam

 

The Qualifying Exam (or written preliminary exam) is required of all Ph.D candidates and covers the fields of mechanics, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, quantum mechanics and modern physics at the upper division undergraduate level.  The exam is given over two days, Thursday and Friday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, during the first week of classes of each Fall and Spring semester.

Qualifying Examination Committee: Duke (chair), Berg, Brooks, Lind, Shaheen, Tabor, Vafek, Volya.

The following websites have collections of problems at *roughly* the desired level: upper division undergraduate courses.

 

Qualifying Exam Regulations

 

One of the requirements for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. is that each student must pass the qualifying examination by the end of the student's second year in graduate school.

Content and level. The qualifying examination covers mechanics, electricity and magnetism, thermal physics and statistical mechanics, quantum mechanics, and modern physics at the level of upper division undergraduate courses. Sample problems at the appropriate level are avalable below.

Format. The Qualifying Exam is given in two sections over two days. In each section the student is asked to work a set of six problems from the areas specified above. Students must work all twelve problems.

Schedule. The exact dates and times of each exam will be made known well in advance by the Graduate Studies Office, but are most likely Thursday and Friday afternoon from 1-5 pm of the first week of classes in each Fall and the Spring semester.

Evaluation Procedure. Each question on the exam is graded independently by two graders. If the two grades on a given answer differ substantially, the graders involved are required to resolve the disagreement. Students will be permitted to see their corrected tests but not the grades assigned. After the exam has been graded, the results are reviewed first by the Qualifying Exam Committee and then by the faculty as a whole at a special meeting ordinarily held within a week after the conclusion of the grading. The performance of each student is discussed and a decision made whether the performance was adequate to allow the student to proceed toward a Ph.D.

Grades. Shortly after the faculty have reached a decision each student who took the exam is notified whether or not he or she passed the exam. No specific grades or rankings are provided.

Retake policy. A student who does not initially pass the qualifying exam may take the exam at every regular offering of the examination until the student either passes the exam or has completed two years of graduate school. A student who does not pass the exam during this period will be disqualified from seeking a Ph.D. in Physics at Florida State University.

Problem Sets without Solutions

University of Florida
Duke University
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Cincinnati
University of Wisconsin, Madison
University of Washington

Problem Set with Solutions

http://physics.ucsd.edu/students/grad_exams/

Previous Exams

Fall 2006 Exam
Fall 2006 Solutions
Spring 2007 Exam
Spring 2007 Solutions
Fall 2007 Exam
Fall 2007 Solutions
Spring 2008 Exam
Spring 2008 Solutions
Fall 2008 Exam
Fall 2008 Solutions
Spring 2009 Exam
Spring 2009 Solutions
Fall 2009 Exam
Fall 2009 Solutions
Spring 2010 Exam
Spring 2010 Solutions
Fall 2010 Exam
Fall 2010 Solutions
Spring 2011 Exam
Spring 2011 Solutions
Fall 2011 Exam
Fall 2011 Solutions
Spring 2012 Exam
Spring 2012 Solutions
Fall 2012 Exam
Fall 2012 Solutions
Spring 2013 Exam
Spring 2013 Solutions
Fall 2013 Exam
Fall 2013 Solutions


Alternate Links to Previous Exams and the Problem Bank

Previous Exams
Physics Problem Bank

Previous Exam Problem Bank

MECHANICS QUESTIONS (.pdf) SOLUTIONS (.pdf)
ELECTRODYNAMICS QUESTIONS (.pdf) SOLUTIONS (.pdf)
MODERN PHYSICS QUESTIONS (.pdf) SOLUTIONS (.pdf)
QUANTUM MECHANICS QUESTIONS (.pdf) SOLUTIONS (.pdf)
THERMODYNAMICS AND STATISTICAL MECHANICS QUESTIONS (.pdf) SOLUTIONS (.pdf)

 

PHY 6938, Proficiency Exam Preparation Problems

MECHANICS

QUESTIONS (.pdf)

QUESTIONS (.ps)

SOLUTIONS (.pdf)

SOLUTIONS (.ps)

Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003
Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002
Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002
Fall and Spring 2001 Fall and Spring 2001 Fall and Spring 2001 Fall and Spring 2001
Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000
Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000
Fall 1999 Fall 1999 Fall 1999 Fall 1999
Spring 1999 Spring 1999 Spring 1999 Spring 1999
Fall 1998 Fall 1998 Fall 1998 Fall 1998
Spring 1998 Spring 1998 Spring 1998 Spring 1998
Fall 1997 Fall 1997 Fall 1997 Fall 1997
Spring 1997 Spring 1997 Spring 1997 Spring 1997

ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM

QUESTIONS (.pdf)

QUESTIONS (.ps)

SOLUTIONS (.pdf)

SOLUTIONS (.ps)

Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003
Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002
Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002
Fall 2001 Fall 2001 Fall 2001 Fall 2001
Spring 2001 Spring 2001 Spring 2001 Spring 2001
Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000
Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000
Fall 1999 Fall 1999 Fall 1999 Fall 1999
Spring 1999 and Fall 1998 Spring 1999 and Fall 1998 Spring 1999 and Fall 1998 Spring 1999 and Fall 1998
Spring 1998 Spring 1998 Spring 1998 Spring 1998
Fall 1997 Fall 1997 Fall 1997 Fall 1997
Spring 1997 Spring 1997 Spring 1997 Spring 1997

OPTICS AND THERMODYNAMICS

QUESTIONS (.pdf)

QUESTIONS (.ps)

SOLUTIONS (.pdf)

SOLUTIONS (.ps)

Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003
Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002
Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002
Fall and Spring 2001 Fall and Spring 2001 Fall and Spring 2001 Fall and Spring 2001
Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000
Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000
Fall 1999-Spring 1997 Fall 1999-Spring 1997 Fall 1999-Spring 1997 Fall 1999-Spring 1997

MODERN PHYSICS AND QUANTUM MECHANICS

QUESTIONS (.pdf)

QUESTIONS (.ps)

SOLUTIONS (.pdf)

SOLUTIONS (.ps)

Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003 Spring 2003
Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002 Fall 2002
Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002 Spring 2002
Fall 2001 Fall 2001 Fall 2001 Fall 2001
Spring 2001 Spring 2001 Spring 2001 Spring 2001
Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000 Fall 2000
Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000 Spring 2000
Fall 1999-Spring 1997 Fall 1999-Spring 1997 Fall 1999-Spring 1997 Fall 1999-Spring 1997
 
         
     

 

 
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