My unsolicited advice to compre exam takers

In one of my blog post about the comprehensive exam in my other blog (Grad School Jungle), I have shared my thoughts and feelings about taking it. I am still suffering from mental diarrhea (got that term somewhere else) during my compre exam. However, passing it is just a prologue of the story of my academic career.

My quest for a world with knowledge freely shared won’t be complete without me sharing some of the things that helped me during that exam. So here are the things I think would be helpful for you in preparing for the coming comprehensive exam:

1. Review some basic economic concepts. Organizational Studies, Development Administration, or Development Research, it doesn’t matter what major you are. Development always deals with the economy. Try absorbing this easy to digest explanation of some basic economic concepts.

2. Enumerate and explain some of the common (and not so common) development theories. Paradigms, models, and frameworks of development; that’s the lifeblood of a Ph.D. So here’s a list of some of these theories.

3. Be knowledgeable about our country’s development issues. What more can give us a comprehensive overview of this than the Wallace Report?

4. By now, you may have already been knowledgeable about the research process. Here’s a good website that can refresh you on the basic concepts of research. Don’t forget that the trend nowadays in research is triangulation so here’s a well written article on that. You may have also been able to differentiate both quantitative and qualitative research and here’s a good comparison for that.

5. Statistics! Eeww! You hated that I know. But you must learn to love it. Anyway Pagoso’s Fundamental Statistics for College Students is still a very helpful resource for that (copies are in the university library, if I’m not mistaken). Regression? Double eeww! Learn to love it too. Hope this web page on interpreting linear regression statistics will make it easier for you.

6. Have an overview of the different development tools. I’m referring to logframe analysis, net present value, benefit cost analysis, etc. (I’m sorry: when I say overview I meant that you should learn how to do it).

7. Major subjects? Don’t know much about good resources for OS and DA but I guess you already have your own bible for that. In DRA we have one, written by a man called Hair (what a strange name).

Note: Following this list won’t guarantee total success in the compre exam. But what I’m sure of is this would really be a great help if you are presently not sure where to start right now. Like a Boy Scout, always “Be Prepared”. As Forrest Gump used to say “Life is a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’ll gonna get”.

Lastly, you have to be knowledgeable about theories, but in the compre exam, you will be measured not only on what you know about it but how you will apply them to solve problems in the real world.

I know this tips and resources are not enough. If you have something more to add, please do so by using the comment link below. After all, Ph.D. is a community, we surely need each other!


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