Graduate Area Comprehensive Examination (GACE)

Few words strike fear and panic into graduate students as readily as the words “area comps”.  Comprehensive examinations are a challenge, they test intellectual capacity, nerve, endurance, and fortitude. Comprehensive examinations are a time-honored tradition for testing a graduate student’s mastery of disciplinary knowledge.You should view your comprehensive examination as a challenge worthy of your hard work.  As you prepare, you will not only become aware of how much you have learned, but you will also reach a better understanding of all that you have learned.  Education and what may seem to be difficult experiences change people.  Changes allow for personal growth and broadened horizons.  Comps should be an important and welcomed part of that growth!

Eligibility

Students should consult with department chairs or academic deans for specific departmental and college requirements and number of examinations offered per year.

A.  Master Level

  • Completing 24 semester hours of graduate coursework with a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Completion of the Graduate English Competency Examination, (GECE) requirement.
  • The student must be registered for at least one credit hour in the semester which the examination will be given.  An audited course will not meet this requirement.

B.  Doctoral

  • Completing of 80% of required graduate coursework with a 3.0 grade point average.
  • The student must be registered for at least one credit hour in the semester which the examination will be given.  An audited course will not meet this requirement.

C.  Specialist in Education

  • Completing 24 semester hours of graduate coursework with a 3.0 grade point average.
  • The student must be registered for at least one credit hour in the semester which the examination will be given.  An audited course will not meet this requirement.

Policies and Procedures

  • Students may not take the exam as a walk-in.
  • Students who miss the registration deadline must apply to take the examination at the next scheduled date.
  • Student failing to take the examination on the date, must re-apply by the deadline on a subsequent test date.
  • Students may attempt the examination twice.
  • Students unsuccessful twice on the examination must petition the Academic College Dean for permission to take the exam a third attempt.

Application (click here for an application)

  • Please complete Part I and have your advisor complete Part II.
  • Use this opportunity to confer with your advisor and department chair about the content of your examination.
  • Part II is to be completed by the Advisor.  Your advisor will verify……
  • Enrollment in program
  • Your GPA is >3.0 and there are no incomplete (I) grades.
  • Departmental Approval is obtained by the signature of your advisor and department chair/program director.
  • Return the completed application to the Division of Graduate Studies on or before the deadline date specified in the Graduate  Calendar. (click here for deadline dates)
  • When the Dean of the Division of Graduate Studies declares you eligible for the Examination, YOU WILL RECEIVE A LETTER at the address you put on the form.

Preparing for the GACE

  • Ask – some comps are standardized, some are personalized.
  • Ask – what format is being used, computer-based or pen and paper,  short answer or long essay?
  • Ask – if the comp is personalized, get some idea of the content.
  • Ask – are past exams available?
  • Ask – other students.
  • Read & review.

Taking the GACE

  • Budget your time
  • Remember this examination is a test of your ability as an intellectual.
  • As part of the answer you should “compare, contrast, synthesize, analyze, integrate information” not regurgitate.
  • Try to relax.