Students accepted for graduate study in US institutions are not dumb. If a student is failing the qualifier, you should find out why. A discussion with the student and with the student’s teachers is a necessary part of the process.
Points An Outside Observer Might Raise
Institutions Using Qualification Exams
- Should the program chair or counselors be aware of the classroom performance of graduate students before they take the qualifier and arrange appropriate counseling and learning opportunities to insure success?
- What kind of counseling was offered to the students after their first failure?
- What is the attrition rate for graduate students in this department?
Institutions Not Using Qualification Exams
- Are their students less able than yours?
- Is the success rate of their students as professional scientists less than the success rate of yours?
This scenario opens up the question of whether a program uses exams to weed people out. Some programs have a reputation for intentionally accepting more students than would pass the qualifier or comprehensive because they needed the TAs.
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