If you fail prelims are you screwed?

  • Thread starter PhillipKP
  • Start date
In summary, if you fail preliminary exams in grad school, you may still be able to get back in, but it's a lot harder than it might seem. You should study hard and try to get in good with your advisors.f
  • #1
If you fail prelims in Grad School are you screwed forever? Should you even attempt to re-apply for admission at the school you failed out of?
  • #2
this question should be asked of advisors at the school.. they will usually have rules on how many times you can take rpelims before they pull the plug.

afterwards probably it is bad idea to go back there again, as it makes you feel bad to be back at the scene of the crime.

to get a fresh start go somewhere new. but study first.

in my case after boiuncing out of brandeis, i had a chance to go back, but they knew me as an unsuccessful student, so i went to a new school, and actually became one of the top students in the department, i.e,. i received the presidents fellowship, finished in 3 years, got three jobs, ...

Two years later I wound up at harvard, won an NSF fellowship, and ran into a prof who had interviewed but turned me down at Columbia, and this time he quickly apologized for not accepting me!

other professors, including a fields medalist, quizzed me on who i was, where had i come from?, even though they had perhaps met me years before, they did not recognize me as a success it seemed. this was a good feeling.

so a fresh start probably gives you a better chance at doing well and feeling good abut it.
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  • #3
What did you do between the time you failed out and the time you reapplied for admission?
  • #4
Normally, if you flunk the prelims, you're gone forever there is no getting back in unless you change departments.

Like mathwonk, after I went someplace else and got my degree, I ran into a couple of old faculty members who remebered me and wished they'd had kept me around.

Prelims are a crap shoot, smoetimes you get lucky and all the questions are repeats of something you studied and others you haven't got a clue.
  • #5
Are prelims the same as qualifiers, the exams taken between MS and PhD, where one does an 8 hr written exam followed by a verbal exam in which one stands in front of a team of professors and basically solves problems in one's discipline or field of study?

I don't remember prelims for the MS program, but I do remember written and verbal examinations. I did well, but I know one guy who failed twice and was given a third chance. I seem to remember that he failed the third time and then threatened to sue the university/department. I think he was grudgingly accepted, then dropped out. That was about the time I left for a job in industry.
  • #6
in between my two stints in grad school i taught at a small college and elarned as much as possible. I gave free seminars, taught extra courses, taught all the way through elementary calculus and then intermediate calculus and then spivaks calculus and calculus on manifolds. i taught complex analysis and then graduate measure theory from Lang Analysis.

then i gave seminars in spivaks differential geometry and on de rhams theorem and on category theory. I worked a lot, got married, essentially got fired for not having a PhD and went back to school and got one.
  • #7
essentially got fired for not having a PhD and went back to school and got one.

All that time and they didn't mention a thing about it!

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