Preparation Guidelines

View printable PDF version

Read the rubric by which you will be evaluated so that you can see how we will be grading you. Study in a group, but be very careful that you have personal knowledge of the books and don't rely too much on others who may or may not have correct information.

Warning: Students have frequently used study notes from past years. This is not forbidden, but it has often had bad results. Just because former students pass along their notes doesn't mean they did well or that the notes are good. We've had years where it seemed most answers reflected one set of notes which were idiosyncratic and seemed to influence students more than their own classroom experience did. We want your information to reflect the time you've spent in our classes.


  • Read all of the assigned works. It will need to be clear to us that you've read the works.
  • Make sure you know how to talk about the story lines, thesis, and general content of the books as well as the suggested questions.
  • You should also be able to discuss what sort of historian each author was and what he/she used for evidence and be able to compare them to each other.
  • You should know the context within which each author wrote—time period, issues of the day, and geographic location.

Thematic Questions

  • The thematic questions are very general, but we want you to have specific and well-grounded answers to them.
  • These answers should reflect the fact that you've taken classes from us, many of which have addressed these questions. You will not have taken all the history classes, of course, but each student has specialized knowledge which we expect to come from his/her own class notes and not only from shared knowledge you gain in the study groups.
  • Get out your notes from World Civ and American History and other courses and remind yourself.


  • Know what some of these are—have used some or thumbed through them. Be able to talk about how they are used and why they are printed.
  • Give an example of how you've used them in your own work up till now.


  • Use the American History and World Civilizations textbooks to help you.
  • Be careful to think about the significance of the dates—why would we assign them to you? Given that there are only 20 dates, make sure that you're finding events that had long-term impact.

Maps and Statistical Data

  • Remember that you've all taken Macroeconomics or Geography. These classes require you to look at information in graphic form.
  • Be ready to look at a map and see what you can learn from it—what do the symbols mean? What is being articulated in the map? What might you infer from what is happening? Is there change over time?
  • Be prepared to look at graphs, pie charts and tables of data and to think about what is being measured and what a reader might and might not know as a result of this information. What questions might you still have after looking at this information? What conclusions could you come to?

The Day of the Exam

  • Email the department administrator (Mrs. Hyder) a copy of your resume and bring a hard copy with you to the exam.
  • Dress comfortably, but professionally.
  • Make sure you've eaten and are rested.
  • Be ready to enjoy yourself.
  • Think about your time in our department and be ready to talk about some of the strengths and weaknesses of the program as you see them.