MA Exams

Parts of the MA Linguistics Examination

Starting in the Fall of 2012, the M.A. Linguistics Comprehensive Examination format will consist of oral presentations in two of five areas (chosen in advance by the candidate).

Details of the format of the new MA Linguistics Exam

  • Students will respond to two questions to be chosen (in consultation with faculty and the MA Graduate advisor) from the following five areas: (i) Sound structure; (ii) Grammatical structure; (iii) Meaning & Use; (iv) Second Language Acquisition; (v) Psycholinguistics.
  • Exam questions for each of the 2 areas chosen by the student will require analysis of a specific set of linguistic data and theoretically informed solution(s) to some specific problem(s) related to this data.
  • Students will have one week from the date that exam questions are handed out (typically, a Friday) to prepare an oral presentation of their solution to the exam questions (typically, the following Friday).
  • For each area in which the student is being examined, the oral presentation will consist of a 5-10-minute presentation where the student orally walks through how he or she solved the problem, followed by 10 minutes of questions from the student's committee. No written responses are required and no electronic presentation should be prepared, but students may (and are encouraged) to bring a 1-page handout for each exam question on which they will be presenting.
  • Each student will have an exam committee consisting of 3 faculty members from the Dept. of Linguistics & TESOL. The exam committee will be determined on the basis of the (2) topics that the student has selected to respond to--namely, each committee member will serve as the representative or expert for one of the two topic areas chosen by the student (e.g. If a student chooses to be tested in the areas of Sound, SLA, and Meaning, then their committee will consist of one faculty member from the Sound area, one from the SLA area, and one from the Meaning area).

Parts of the MA TESOL Examination

Starting in the Fall of 2010, the M.A.TESOL Comprehensive Examination format will consist of a portfolio of professional materials, a brief teaching demonstration, and an exit interview. Read details of MA TESOL portfolio (pdf).

Objectives of the Examination

The objective of the M.A. comprehensive examination (for both Linguistics and TESOL graduate students) is to determine whether graduate students entering their final semesters before graduation have developed a "Working Expertise" in their fields of study (Apple & Krumsieg 2001). "Working Expertise" is defined as a graduate student's ability to:

  1. analyze the specific aspects of a problematic issue or question in the three content areas of the comprehensive examination (e.g., language in context, TESOL pedagogy, etc.);
  2. synthesize information acquired within and across these content areas (i.e., identify linkages between common concepts, themes, questions, and issues), developing well-supported and well-reasoned generalizations or conclusions with regard to that problematic question or issue; and,
  3. articulate such generalizations or conclusions effectively to a broadly defined audience of language professionals with diverse areas of interests and background knowledge in fields of study related to linguistics or TESOL.

Evaluation/Grading of Examinee Responses

The questions will be jointly written by all the linguistics faculty. Exam raters may be drawn from the Linguistics faculty and from outside the department but from fields of study related to linguistics or TESOL who are familiar with the specific content areas. Your exams will be graded anonymously.

The raters will give each question one of the following grades:

  • F (fail)
  • LP (low pass)
  • P (pass)
  • HP (high pass)

Each of the two questions you answer will be equally weighted.

When scores are officially released, students will make an appointment with the graduate advisor for a short conference. Paperwork related to the exam will be handled by the Linguistics & TESOL office.