I just spent an hour composing a blog post that detailed everything about what I am going through with preparing [or not preparing] for my doctoral exams and realized that none of it matters since the decision is mine to make whether or not I want to take them this semester or next. There are no guidelines, and therein lies the problem.
So instead of making my case and listing all my pros and cons, I pose the following questions to those readers who have gone through a comprehensive exam experience of any kind:
How much time did you study beforehand?
How much communication did you have with your question writers about what they expected?
Were you given reading lists with which to prepare and/or did you compose annotated bibliographies beforehand?
I know every school does these differently, and if I wanted to take them this semester it’s been up to me to start studying and get information, but I cannot even begin to describe the mess that the department is when it comes to having checklists, having professors, having professors actually be in their offices or return a damn email, hiring a new chair after not having one for 2 years, failing to hire anyone in Rhet/Comp, or establishing any sense of community among its grad students.
I know that it’s probably my fault for coming to such a large place, or even staying at one when after my first year 3 big name professors moved on to other universities, but come on!??!?!? Even if I have answers to some of my questions now, the exam dates are only 6 weeks away!
Or they could be in March. I’ll let you know what I decide, but I’d really like your feedback.