Ed.S. Comprehensive Examination


Dates of Comprehensive Examination

The department administers written comprehensive examinations in October, March, and June. The exact deadlines are posted each semester on the ISWD website. You may also contact the graduate coordinator.

Requirements to Take the Examination

  • Completed examination application. The office associate in IED Room 100 distributes the application.
  • Approved Program of Study
  • Committee Request Form
  • 3.00 GPA on all courses attempted for graduate credit after admission to the degree program (i.e., program and non-program courses)

Components of the Comprehensive Examination

The written comprehensive examination is comprised of one examination period: Friday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The examination includes four questions: two from the major advisor and one each from the other two committee members. Secure study guides from the major advisor and committee members prior to applying to take the examination.

The examination is administered online through Canvas. For the examination period, students need to log into Canvas: ISWD Comprehensive Exams, download the questions, write the answers, then upload back to Canvas before time is up. This is a taken-home exam, and students are allowed to use notes and resources during the examination. To prevent plagiarizing, exam answers will be checked through the plagiarism program. 

Preparation for Comprehensive Examination

Acquire Study Guides

The student will request a study guide from each of his/her committee members. The study guide (not exam questions) will guide the student in specific areas of study. The application to take the examination cannot be completed until the student has received all study guides.

Tips for Preparing for the Examination

  • Prepare for the Examination Early. Begin studying for the comprehensive examination when you enter the program. Throughout your course work, save all course lectures and notes to use later for study materials while preparing for the comprehensive examination. Build a notebook (paper or digital) that combines information and research articles that can be used as study materials.
  • Set Aside Time to Study. As the time approaches to take the exam, devote time each week for preparing for the examination.
  • Research Study Guide Topics. Spend time on the research needed to complete the examination questions. Refer to course notes and scholarly research articles and books related to the study guide topics.
  • Practice Answering a Question. Ask your major advisor to provide a practice question. Write your response in a timed setting. Review and rewrite your response. Ask your major advisor to critique using the examination rubric.
  • Form Study Groups. Find fellow Ed.S. students and form a study group to discuss ways to prepare for the examination.

Tips When Taking the Examination

  • Use the Rubric to Guide Quality of Response. Review the rubric and be sure you are addressing all components of the rubric in the answer. The components are Completeness, Knowledge, Organization, and Quality of Writing.
  • Practice Time Management During the Examination. Do not spend an excessive amount of time on one question and attempt to rush the others. Attempting to answer all questions will be essential in reaching the passing source and excelling on the examination.
  • Evaluate the Length of Answer. Over the years many students have asked about the number of pages expected. Although it seems a perplexing question, the answer is quite simple. Write enough pages to fully answer the question and show the committee mastery of the subject. Again, refer to the rubric as it describes the criterion for completeness, knowledge, organization, and quality of writing.
  • Document Response with Sources. Knowledge of examination question is best evidenced by use of sources/citations to support the knowledge presented in the question. Although in most scenarios you will not be expected to memorize the entirety of an APA reference, you will be expected to show concrete evidence and knowledge of your sources which may include the author(s), journal, and article where information or quote was taken. You will not be permitted to use the Internet, email, or any resources you may have collected.
  • Quality of Writing. Always remember that this is also a writing exam and students will be expected to use proper grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. Writing should be done in an academic form and not written as simply conversational. See the organization element on the grading rubric that clearly expects an introduction, body, and summary.


Rubric for Evaluating Written Preliminary Examination

See the links below:

Specialists Grading Rubric_1.pdf

Specialists summary rubric_0.pdf