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qual_lore [2017/09/12 03:00]
jwang [Post-Qual]
qual_lore [2018/06/25 21:47] (current)
jwang
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 Remember that the purpose of your qual committee is to advise **you** on **your** research to help you succeed. ​ Pick people who can offer you meaningful advice. Remember that the purpose of your qual committee is to advise **you** on **your** research to help you succeed. ​ Pick people who can offer you meaningful advice.
  
-It is very useful to talk to each member of your committee 1-2 weeks before the exam.  The purpose of these meetings should be to briefly familiarize your committee with your thesis topic and proposal. ​ Letting your committee know what to expect can reduce the number of strange or random questions you will face during the exam.  ​As a bonus, some external committee members ​are willing to clarify what what kind of role they expect to play in the exam (general knowledge, related sub-field, project management and timeline, etc.).+It is **very useful** to talk to each member of your committee 1-2 weeks before the exam.  The purpose of these meetings should be to briefly familiarize your committee with your thesis topic and proposal. ​ Letting your committee know what to expect can reduce the number of strange or random questions you will face during the exam.  ​For external committee members, it can clarify what what kind of role they expect to play in the exam (general knowledge, related sub-field, project management and timeline, etc.). It is also useful to ask your committee members what they are looking for in your presentation and what kind of questions you will be asked from them (e.g., prelim-like questions, bigger picture research questions, technical methodology questions, etc). Some committee members will ask bigger picture questions, while some will have you derive equations on the board, so it's definitely good to figure out what to expect as there'​s been a wide range of questions! 
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 +As with the prelim, it is important to schedule your Qual way in advance to maximize faculty availability. Typically, allocate three hours of time for your qual. The large majority of quals are shorter ( <= 2 hours), but some Quals have lasted the full three hours
  
 See the Berkeley Graduate Division Policies website [[http://​grad.berkeley.edu/​policy/​degrees-policy/#​f47-configuration-requirements-for-higher-degree-committees|section on committee requirements]] for more details. ​ See the Berkeley Graduate Division Policies website [[http://​grad.berkeley.edu/​policy/​degrees-policy/#​f47-configuration-requirements-for-higher-degree-committees|section on committee requirements]] for more details. ​
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 ==== Making Your Presentation ==== ==== Making Your Presentation ====
  
-The structure of the qualifying exam is different from the prelim. ​ You prepare a ~45 minute talk and presents it to your qual committee. ​ The committee members will interrupt with questions throughout the presentation,​ lengthening the presentation to 1.5 to 2 hours. ​ Afterwards, there is a short round of general knowledge questioning. This questioning typically focuses upon the material presented, but sometimes wanders into related fields of astronomy.+The structure of the qualifying exam is different from the prelim. ​ You prepare a ~45 minute talk and presents it to your qual committee. ​ The committee members will interrupt with questions throughout the presentation,​ lengthening the presentation to 1.5 to 2 hours. ​ Afterwards, there is a short round of general knowledge questioning. This questioning typically focuses upon the material presented, but sometimes wanders into related fields of astronomy. You should ask your committee members ahead of time what kind of questions to expect to help with preparation
  
 Formally (according to UC Berkeley), the qual focuses on 3 subjects related to your research. ​ Within the department, these 3 topics are generally nested "​contexts"​ of your research: Formally (according to UC Berkeley), the qual focuses on 3 subjects related to your research. ​ Within the department, these 3 topics are generally nested "​contexts"​ of your research:
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 There is also some flexibility in the amount of background you give; in some cases a little more background is appropriate. For my talk, I had two different research projects to talk about. I gave one 5 minute general introduction/​background at the beginning, and more detailed information for the context for each of my two projects (maybe another 5 minutes each). ​ However, don't forget that the purpose of your qual is not to present a great review talk but to highlight your understanding of and contribution to your chosen field. The purpose of the background is to show that what you are doing is important. ​ Harp on the importance of your own work; use and cite your own figures on slides, and for each paper you have written or intend to write, make sure to spend a few minutes talking about what you did and why it improves on what has been done before. There is also some flexibility in the amount of background you give; in some cases a little more background is appropriate. For my talk, I had two different research projects to talk about. I gave one 5 minute general introduction/​background at the beginning, and more detailed information for the context for each of my two projects (maybe another 5 minutes each). ​ However, don't forget that the purpose of your qual is not to present a great review talk but to highlight your understanding of and contribution to your chosen field. The purpose of the background is to show that what you are doing is important. ​ Harp on the importance of your own work; use and cite your own figures on slides, and for each paper you have written or intend to write, make sure to spend a few minutes talking about what you did and why it improves on what has been done before.
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 +It's a good idea to have a timeline of your thesis plan in your presentation. This typically comes at the end when discussing how all the research you have done/will do fits together into your thesis. You don't need to stick to your timeline after your Qual, but it should be believable. The timeline can be however detailed as you want (e.g., dividing when you are doing data analysis vs writing for a project, or just bunching it all together in a block); it just needs to convey that you have a plan for your thesis. It's a good idea to go over this with your advisor beforehand. ​
  
 Every person has their own strategy for preparing for the qual. A few things that come to mind for me: Every person has their own strategy for preparing for the qual. A few things that come to mind for me:
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 -Like any talk, don't overcrowd it. Less is more. And if it's in your talk, understand it thoroughly (know how they made that figure!) -Like any talk, don't overcrowd it. Less is more. And if it's in your talk, understand it thoroughly (know how they made that figure!)
  
--Don't stress about the random questions at the end. Most questions will be related to what you show in your talk, so focus on that. In general, it is more important to understand the general properties and behavior of something than to be able to write down/derive an equation for it (i.e. know that changing A increases/​decreases/​has no effect on B, rough sizes/​temperatures/​distances of things). That said, don't be surprised if you're asked to do board work. Go over your physical constants. ​+-Don't stress about the random questions at the end. Most questions will be related to what you show in your talk, so focus on that. In general, it is more important to understand the general properties and behavior of something than to be able to write down/derive an equation for it (i.e. know that changing A increases/​decreases/​has no effect on B, rough sizes/​temperatures/​distances of things). That said, don't be surprised if you're asked to do board work (Jason: if a commmitee member hints that they might ask prelim-type questions, there will probably be board work). Go over your physical constants. ​
  
 - Treat the qual as a chance to take a step back from the nitty gritty work that is research and look at your thesis as a big picture. I found the experience tremendously useful and has given me much more direction for finishing my thesis work.  - Treat the qual as a chance to take a step back from the nitty gritty work that is research and look at your thesis as a big picture. I found the experience tremendously useful and has given me much more direction for finishing my thesis work.