How the Exam is Scored

A representative subcommittee of the department faculty will evaluate your exam. When the exam is submitted, your advisor will set a meeting date for the committee, and advise all members of the department of that date. Criteria for evaluating all three exam options are the same:

• Key issues in each domain are identified.
• Discussion of issues is grounded in one or more theoretical frameworks.
• The candidate’s critical exploration of these issues is evident.
• The candidate makes her/his points clearly and supports them adequately.

Regardless of the format you choose, your goal is to demonstrate to the department that you have a solid understanding of each domain in these terms. However, the different formats make somewhat different demands. For example, the evidentiary base in the portfolio is distributed among the included papers and the cover essay. In the essay exam option the evidence of your understanding of a domain must be fully represented in the one paper. The closed book exam requires an understanding such that you can write coherently, without revision, on a selected topic. Because the exam relies on sampling for evidence of breadth, the questions can be more focused and, obviously, briefer.

In each case, though, the examination requires you to demonstrate a broad knowledge though focused attention to key issues or themes as they have played out in the literature, noting your own position in the process. The essay does this through advance organizers that show how the selected issues are representative of the domain. In the portfolio, this is accomplished in the cover essay by pointing to the issues in the accompanying papers, and addressing any needed clarification, integration or elaboration.

If the examination is taken/submitted in March or October, the department will take no more than four weeks to score the examinations. At other times of the year, scoring will take longer.  Results will be one of the following: 

  • Pass
  • Revise and resubmit for advisor approval
  • Revise and resubmit for sub-committee approval
  • Fail (third attempt)

When you pass all three domains, you should proceed immediately to next steps in your program.  If you need to revise any section of the examination, you will meet with your Program Advisor and make an agreement regarding the steps you will take to prepare for resubmitting the exam. In some cases, you will meet with program faculty as well.  You are allowed three attempts to pass the exam. If you need to revise only part of the exam, resubmit that portion of the exam.


You may appeal the results of the examination. This appeal must be made in writing to the Department Chair, who will bring it before the faculty for review and decision. This decision can be appealed to the Academic Standing Committee of the School of Education and that ruling may be appealed to the Graduate Academic Council. The GAC's ruling is final.