Preliminary Written Exams

2021-2022 Prelim Written Exam Dates

The scheduled exam dates for 2021-22 (as guidelines) are:

July 9, 2021 (Sign-up deadline: June 9, 2021)
September 24, 2021 (Sign-up deadline: August 24, 2021)
February 4, 2022 (Sign-up deadline: January 4, 2022)
July 15, 2022 (Sign-up deadline: June 15, 2022)

NOTE: For the Comparative Prelim Exam, the dates listed above are the DUE DATES. Normally students are given the exam questions two weeks prior to that date, but during the pandemic, we are offering three weeks to write.

General exam changes for 2021-22:

  • If a student signs up for an exam but then decides not to take it on the established date because of something related to the pandemic, it will not be considered a failed exam.
  • If a student signs up for an exam but then wants to postpone it for a few weeks due to something related to the pandemic, they will be allowed to do that. The purposes of this change are to give them more flexibility during an especially stressful time, to allow us to adjust to emergency situations, and to facilitate their continued progress through the program.

Field-specific changes for 2021-22:

  • American politics: Students will have three days (rather than one) to complete the exam.
  • Comparative politics: Students will have three weeks (rather than two) to complete the exam. (still confirming this)
  • International relations: Students will have ttwo weeks (rather than one) to complete the second question. (will revisit in Fall 2021)
  • Political theory: Students will have two weeks (rather than three days) to complete the exam. (returns to 3-day timeline in 2022)
  • Methods: The methods exam will now be a take-home, open-notes, open-book exam allowing 48 hours. Part 1 of the exam will now consist of an article critique with the student choosing the article (an application of OLS or MLE with field approval) ahead of time.


It's important to speak with the appropriate Field Head prior to signing up for the Prelim Written Exam.

2021/22 Field Heads

  • American: Minta (F) / Johnson (S)
  • Comparative: Samuels (F) / Collins (S)
  • IR: Krebs
  • Methods: Sumner
  • Theory: Luxon

Political Science Prelim Written Exam Sign-up form

See the Field Guidelines for more details.

Graduate students have access to previous exam questions.