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The Exam

The final will be a one-hour oral exam, given by two faculty members. The format is much like a qualifying exam, with questions pertaining to a research proposal (~2/3 of the exam) followed by questions concerning general course material. The ability to reason through problems and experimental approaches will be emphasized. You will have 5 minutes at the beginning of the exam to present the essence of your research proposal (the key questions, experimental strategies, and potential conclusions) before the questions begin. You can write things up on the board ahead of time to assist your presentation. You should not expect to be able to answer every question that is asked of you, as part of our job is to figure out the limits of your knowledge then move on to other topics. However, if you can't directly answer a question, it would be useful if you could propose experimental approaches that might help answer the question. At the end of your exam, you will be asked to exit the room promptly so the faculty examiners have time to discuss your performance among themselves and prepare for the next exam. The faculty want everyone to pass so please start your preparations well in advance (see timeline in Schedule) and take advantage of the faculty in finding a topic and hammering out your proposal.

Exams will be given from March 20-22. An exam schedule will be posted below on this web page by Friday, March 17. If you notify Geeta, we will try to accommodate those who need to go earlier in the final exam week, but there are no guarantees and it depends in part on the reason. Thus, we strongly urge you to keep your schedule clear on all exam days. Students have found that the process of preparing for these exams gives them valuable experience for their oral qualifying exam

In short, the final exam is testing whether you are capable of engaging in an informed, creative, and critical scientific conversation. You will be carrying out many such scientific conversations throughout your scientific career well after you have passed your bioreg exam, so we encourage you to practice this every day by talking to your lab mates, classmates, lunch partners, intramural teammates, etc. (basically every opportunity that you have) about your science and theirs.

Timeline & Deadlines: Students are encouraged to run possible ideas for proposals (and early drafts) past the faculty as the course proceeds and not to wait until the last minute. We recommend that you come up with an initial topic by Feb 10th after discussions with at least one faculty member.  

Examples of strong BioReg proposals:

PDF iconBioreg_proposal_Example_1.pdf

PDF iconBioreg_proposal_Example_3.pdf

PDF iconBioreg_proposal_Example_5.pdf

PDF iconBioreg_proposal_Example_6.pdf