Comprehensive Ph.D. Exams: Day One

Day one is under my belt. I feel good. Quite good.

They went from 8am until 1 pm. Here was what the test looked like today.

Hebrew translation:
Gen 3:1-6
Psalm 29
Josh 3:1-6
Amos 7:1-6 (parse all verbs)
Sight read: Gen 6:5

Question 1: Discuss the emergence of Israel in Iron I, paying particular attention to recent scholarship and evidence.

Question 2: How does the Deuteronomistic History develop the theme of kingship, using both secondary scholarship and specific references to the biblical text?

I wrote about 8.5 pages on question 1, and about 7.5 pages on question 2.

On Thursday I have four questions, dealing with the following areas: Pentateuch, Writings, OT theology, Latter Prophets. I will have to write fast!

Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes . . . I am hopeful on Thursday I will still feel this good!

10 thoughts on “Comprehensive Ph.D. Exams: Day One

  1. John Anderson says:

    Indeed, but it was still a workout. Poetry is always rougher for me. Though, this was not nearly as bad as what it could have been. At least I have that part behind me now.

  2. John Anderson says:

    Ha! Thanks! It was a good time (or something).

    We’ll see how much of a beast I am when I memorize 11 NT questions between Thursday and Monday. Whew—it will be a long weekend.

    I did find it very interesting, though, how different people handled these tests. To be sure they are a BIG BIG BIG deal, and I realize that; for me, however, it was kind of “fun” (in a sadistic, academic sense, I guess!). I suppose that is only the case when you feel confident in how you answer the questions! Not that I want to do this often (or, again, for that matter), but I was intrigued by the levity with which I, and others, approached the exams. It was a good environment to be in.

  3. Dr. Claude Mariottini says:


    I wish well in your exams. I still remember when I took my exams; it was tough.

    I am sure you will do well. Give us the good news when you finish.

    Claude Mariottini

  4. John Anderson says:

    Dr. Mariottini:

    Many thanks! Great to see you weighing in here! Indeed, as one of my dear friends and former professors put it, comps are “a schlep!”

  5. Phil Sumpter says:

    Best wishes. I still haven’t figured out the American system … why are you taking exams? in England we have nothing of the sort after MA level.

  6. John Anderson says:


    Thanks! These are comprehensive Ph.D. exams (Baylor calls them preliminary exams). I think each school probably is a bit different, but they are basically field exams showing you know your field and know it well. We are required to take them as our final task before beginning the dissertation.

  7. Phil Sumpter says:

    The American system does seem to be intensiver. I wouldn’t mind going through such a system myself. I wouldn’t like the pressure but being able to measure my knowledge against an objective standard would be nice.

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