Preliminary Examinations

For Department Policy on the Preliminary Exams, click here

For Description of the Preliminary Exams, click here (pdf file). 

Fall 2014 Prelim Exam Dates 

Saturday, August 23, 2014 
9:00 AM -12:00 PM   E&M and Optics, and Special Relativity
1:00 PM 4:00 PM    Quantum Mechanics


Saturday, August 30, 2014 
9:00 AM -12:00 PM   Classical Mechanics
1:00 PM 4:00 PM   Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics

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 in the above handout.  Binders of past preliminary exams and their solutions can be borrowed from the Physics Library. Each exam is three-hours long, separated by a lunch hour. The "morning" part will be distributed at 9:00 AM and collected in its final form at 12:00 PM.  The "afternoon" part will be distributed at 1:00 PM and collected at 4:00 PM. The examinations are closed book; bring a calculator and writing equipment. Examination booklets will be provided; scratch work should be done within the examination booklets.