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9 Steps to Pass Your Economics Preliminary Exam

What Is the Economics Preliminary Exam?

Students in economics PhD programs are required to take and pass a preliminary examination in order to continue with their doctoral studies. Preliminary exams are usually taken at the end of the first year in most institutions. The preliminary or qualifying tests may vary from program to program but will typically always include examinations in macroeconomic and microeconomic theory. In some Economics program these two tests will be the only preliminary examinations required. Other programs may require an additional examination in a third area. Some programs include an oral examination as well as written tests. The economics qualifying examinations allow students to demonstrate the have the knowledge and skills to carry out their dissertation research.

Steps to Pass the Comprehensive Economics Exam

Many economics PhD students are intimidated by the qualifying exam. If you fail to pass the prelims for economics it could mean the end of your PhD hopes. Here are 9 steps to take that will improve your chances of completing the economics qualifying exam successfully:

  • Take detailed notes from day one: Make sure that from the first day of class you practice good note taking. Take note on what you cover in class as well as on all reading assignments.
  • Ask questions: When you don’t understand something ask question. Don’t count on being able to figure it out yourself
  • Organize your notes: Don’t just toss your notes in a pile. Organize them by topic so it is easy to locate the information that you need. By the end of one year you should have a ton of notes and if you aren’t organized it is easy to waste hours looking for specific information.
  • Review basics: When you start to review for the exam begin with lower level basic principles of economics. Refresh your memory on the basic principles and think about how you would approach problems with the more advanced knowledge you have acquired.
  • Review advanced material: Once you have refreshed your memory of the basic review the advanced material that you have covered in the PhD programs and think how concepts can be applied in real life situations.
  • Work all the problems you can: Rework all problems you were assigned at the intermediate and advanced levels. Work all problems in your text books even if they were never assigned
  • Take practice tests: Take as many economics qualifying practice exams as you can. When you take practice exams do so under the same conditions the actual test will be given.
  • Identify weak areas: It is tempting to practice things that you are good at. However you should focus on those areas you are weak in as identified by the practice tests. Don’t ignore everything else to focus on weak points. Stay sharp in your strong areas but put extra effort into areas where you haven’t performed as well
  • Join a study group: You won’t be the only one taking the preliminary exam for economics. Form or join a group so that you can get preliminary exam help from students like you.

Tips for Economics Qualifying Exam Preparation

economics preliminary exam tips

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Here are a few useful tips to help you pass the qualifying exam in economics:

  • Start early: Get an early start with exam preparations. Don’t begin to review so early that you end up forgetting what you covered first but leave plenty of time to practice. Four to six months is generally enough time
  • Learn concepts: Don’t just memorize problems. Think about how concepts you learn to solve problems can be used in other ways. You are almost certain to encounter problems during exams you haven’t seen before but if you understand concepts you will be able to deal with them.
  • Don’t give dumb answers: If you don’t understand a problem on the test don’t answer it. No answer is better than a stupid answer
  • Get some rest before the exam: Approaching the PhD qualifying exam with a fresh, well rested mind increases your chances of success

Passing the preliminary exam is essential to becoming a PhD candidate and continuing to the research portion of the program. If you are concerned about your exam preparations or don’t know how to pass comprehensive exams our company can assist you.

Contact us for economics preliminary exam preparation help provided by PhD degree holders in the field!