I attend university in Spain. While googling for resources/practice exams for my 2nd classical mechanics course at the sophomore level(which I am resitting, unfortunately), I came across this: http://zippy.physics.niu.edu/PhDexam/CM_ALL.pdf [Broken] (NIU phd candidacy exams) http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/grad/qualifiers/past/2008_jan/cmprob_jan08.pdf (Rutgers phd qual) These are pretty big and important American physics faculties correct? The exam sets are of a difficulty less than or equal to what I have encountered in my first and second sophomore CM courses. Some of the problems could have been pulled straight from my problem sheets or exams from previous years, we generally have one or two variations of problems from Landau's and Goldstein's texts on our finals (100% of the grade). Almost brings a tear to my eye. A friend who went to one of the major physics faculties in the country tells me he encountered a E&M problem on a freshman general physics final that was pulled straight from a 3rd year electrodynamics course textbook. I wasn't surprised to learn the median completion time of the physics degree was 11 years at said university, at my uni its around 7-8, so it could be worse. Are the academic standards in my country excessively high? Or are grad school standards in the US generally low? Sometimes I question what having such high standards hopes to achieve, because I don't think grad schools in my country or anywhere else care how rigorous your undergrad education is if you only manage to get very average grades (or take twice as long to graduate). Its really making me question whether I have any shot at getting into a msc/phd, because its pretty much generally accepted that passing most courses with grades barely above failing is "good" and taking several additional years to graduate as "normal" by practically every student, professor and secretary I know.