Preliminary Examinations

Preliminary Examinations

The preliminary examinations will be held on the following dates:

Fall 2018 Preliminary Exam Dates 

Saturday, August 18, 2018
9:00 AM -12:00 PM   Electromagnetism and Optics, and Special Relativity

Sunday, August 19, 2018
9:00 AM -12:00 PM   Quantum Mechanics

Saturday, August 25, 2018
9:00 AM -12:00 PM  Classical Mechanics

Sunday, August 26, 2018
9:00 AM -12:00 PM   Statistical Physics and Thermodynamics

Spring 2019 Preliminary Exam Dates

To be announced


The preliminary exam is a written examination, divided into four sections, three hours for each section: (1) classical mechanics, (2) electromagnetism and optics, and special relativity, (3) thermodynamics and statistical physics, and (4) quantum mechanics. All sections of the exam are administered twice a year on two successive Saturdays at the beginning of each semester.  Note that these divisions do not preclude the possibility of questions on one section that draw from subject material emphasized in a different section. (e.g. a question that touches on thermodynamics in the quantum mechanics section.) 

The material covered in the examinations is outlined on the physics website.   Binders of past preliminary exams and their solutions can be borrowed from the Physics Library or accessed remotely here (Berkeley login required). Each exam is three hours long. Each section will be distributed at 9:00 AM and collected in its final form at 12:00 PM. The examinations are closed book; bring writing equipment. Examination booklets will be provided; scratch work should be done within the examination booklets.

Department Policy on Preliminary Exams

Description of Preliminary Exams

Expected Knowledge of Units and Basic Constants