Comprehensive Examination- Frequently Asked Questions of Faculty
What would be most helpful to read/review from Comps?
Gather all of your syllabi from the required courses offered within the department and program. Reread your notes, decipher important themes and concepts, survey your readings, develop questions based on this survey, and reread materials for information that you look to solidify. Students should also be keeping up on readings within the field including work appearing in School Psychology Review and School Psychology Quarterly. It is not necessary to do “outside reading” as the concepts and content will be found in previous text, readers, articles, and handouts used in courses.
You may get samples of questions and answers from the program secretary.
What is the format/scoring of Comps?
For a specific description of the Comprehensive Examination Policy and Requirements, please refer to the Program’s Comprehensive Exam Policy which is available on the School Psychology Student D2L website. The most recent policy -- updated in Spring 2017 -- consists of five take-home, open-book questions to be completed over a three-day period. The exam typically begins on a Wednesday morning and is usually due by 4:45 pm on Friday of that same week. These five questions cover the following areas: (1) Professional, Legal, and Ethical Issues, (2) Intervention (Consultation, Prevention, Treatment, (3) Assessment Techniques and Issues (Categorization, Labeling, Nondiscriminatory Assessment), (4) Psychopathology and Behavior Disorders in Children and Adolescents, (5) and Research Methods.
Students entering the Ph.D. Program prior to Fall 2017 have the option to complete the previous Comprehensive Exam format, which can be found on the student D2L page. Please refer to the Comprehensive Examination Policy and Resources folder on this D2L page as well for a Comps Scoring Guideline document developed by the faculty.
What is the purpose of Comps? What competencies are you looking for?
The purpose of the doctoral comprehensive examination is to provide an occasion that allows students to review and integrate a large fund of educational and psychological knowledge into a meaningful perspective. Your ability to problem-solve, provide a balanced and defendable response, and communicate effectively are a few of the many skills that are assessed via your completion of this requirement.
Comprehensive Examination- Questions for Prior Students
How did you organize your studying in terms of content areas, courses, skills, etc.?
Some students organize their studies by reviewing each course they have taken. Others have organized the information learned by each content area addressed by Comps questions (i.e., professional, ethical, and legal issues; assessment; intervention; psychopathology; research methods). It was also recommended that students think about having conversations with other students or faculty about current issues facing the field across each of these topics.
What did you read?
Articles, books, notes, etc. from required School Psychology courses.
What did you find most helpful to review and why?
Many students find it helpful to review previous Comps questions to become familiar with the type of questions included, rather than specific topics/issues. Since the purpose of Comps is moreso to demonstrate your ability to integrate your knowledge, articulate your problem-solving approach, and provide a clear rationale for your response, it may benefit students to review previous responses that earned a 4 or 5 (passing score). With regard to studying, some students tend to spend more time on readings from classes that cover topics related to multuple exam questions (e.g., Practicum courses, Intervention and Assessment I and II, Behavior Disorders).
Which area did you feel weakest in and why?
Students reported being most worried about the Professional, Ethical, and Leagl Issues question because it seemed to be the most broad in terms of what could potentially be asked.
What types of questions are asked?
Think about the faculty who are writing these questions. At this point in your graduate school career, you have a pretty good sense of what areas they are most interested in and how they frame questions. This is why it may be helpful to look at exam questions they have posed, paper topics they provided in their courses, or reflections they have asked you to write about your practicum experiences. Remember, Comps is not just about having rote knowledge on each of these topics. The faculty want you to be able to describe, efficiently and effectively, your process of decision-making and to provide a rationale (based on empirical research) for your conclusion.