Exams and Languages Overview

Language Examinations

Language exams are administered by the Language Center. Students will typically take the ARCA reading comprehension exam (except in the case of translation-only historical languages of Biblical Hebrew, Classical Chinese, Greek, and Latin).

Students may alternately satisfy language requirements by taking the first quarter of 2nd-year undergraduate instruction (e.g. French 201) for a grade and receiving an “A” in the course.

In the case of language courses and exams not offered by the Language Center (and only in such cases), the Department will support the student in arranging for outside study and/or a written translation exam. Students are given two hours to translate a 350-400 word passage with the aid of a dictionary; the quality as well as the completeness and accuracy of the translation will be judged.

There is no limit to the number of times that a student may retake a language examination. Any request for a departure from the languages or procedures used to fulfill degree requirements may be addressed in the form of a petition to the Graduate Curriculum Committee, including petitions for examinations in languages not regularly tested. Such petitions must demonstrate specific and direct relevance to the student’s research or compositional work. Petitions should be addressed to the Director of Graduate Studies, and must be submitted at least two months before the student would take the intended course or the exam.

Comprehensive Examinations

Comprehensive Examinations are given annually: students take analysis exams in mid-June, “sitting” or essay exams in mid-September, and repertory exams in mid-September or early October. Most exams are self-proctored via Canvas, with timestamps and clear directions for academic integrity.

Analysis exams are 72–hour long exams; the working periods are student-chosen within an established seven day window in June. Most sitting exams are 8–hour long exams (with the exception of the 72–hour long composition exam); the working periods are student-chosen within an established fourteen day window in September. Repertory exams are oral exams given in Week 1 of Autumn quarter (in the case of ethnomusicology and composition), or 48–hour long written exams given during the sitting exam period in September (in the case of history/theory). Repertoire study lists and specific guidance is provided to students in all subfields in Week 1 of Spring quarter. Sitting exam topic study areas are provided in Week 8 of Spring quarter.

Students typically take the sitting exams in the summer after their second year, though all students are encouraged to take an analysis exam after their first year of coursework. Students entering with an M.A. and pursuing Track 1 take the comprehensive exams in the summer after their first year.

Students can expect one of three results: pass, call-back, or fail. In the case of a pass, the student’s exam as written/performed shows sufficient mastery. Students are still encouraged to seek feedback from faculty elaborating the strengths and weaknesses of their exam. In the case of a call-back, students are asked to return for oral discussion of a written exam with a few faculty members. Faculty graders typically give specific guidance as to the topics in need of elaboration or clarification. Students can bring notes into the call-back meeting, if desired. Call-backs are scheduled in the week following the close of the exam period. Students will have at least 24 hours to prepare between notification of a call-back and the meeting with faculty members. Final results (pass, fail) will be communicated to all students at the end of the call-back window.

In the event that a student fails a portion of the comprehensive exams, the student will receive feedback from faculty as to the weaknesses that need remedy. Students may, in consultation with the DGS, petition to retake the exams during the upcoming winter or spring, prior to their being offered in the summer of the following year. Should a student fail an exam retake, further retakes will be allowed only upon successful petition to the department. Copies of examinations from previous years are on file in the departmental office for consultation. Please consult with the DGS and faculty mentors for information regarding the content of these exams.