Comprehensive Exam

The MAESLAT program prepares its graduate students, most of whom are already secondary or post-secondary language arts teachers, to master content in four central areas of language arts concentration: literature, rhetoric and composition, linguistics, and creative writing. Courses are required in each area, and all lead to the final requirement of the MAESLAT degree, the Comprehensive Examination.

The Comprehensive Exam is the final component of the MAESLAT program and is required for completion of the MAESLAT degree.

Although the Comprehensive Exam is designed to build upon student knowledge gained through coursework, it requires significant additional study and preparation in selected areas of emphasis.

The exam consists of a four-hour written component and a one-hour oral component. The written component can be divided into two days, if desired.

The Written Component

The written component must be taken in a proctored setting of the student’s choice subject to approval by the Graduate Studies Committee.  Typically, the setting will be a testing center on a university campus (such as the Office of Testing at VSU) or a commercial entity that offers proctored testing for a fee (such as Sylvan). The student is responsible for arranging the testing site, obtaining approval for it from the Graduate Studies Committee no fewer than two weeks before the scheduled date of the exam and paying any fees required by the testing center. 

The written component will be comprised of questions drawn from two of the following areas of the student’s choosing: 1) literature, 2) rhetoric and composition, 3) linguistics, and 4) creative writing. The student is responsible for identifying these two areas via e-mail to the Graduate Coordinator of the Department of English at least 1-2 semesters before graduation.

In preparation for the exam and subject to the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee, students will be provided and in some areas help develop reading lists representative of each chosen area of focus. Each list will consist of at least 15-20 sources (secondary in most cases; primary and secondary for literature), some of which reflect but many of which provide material additional to that which students have studied in their courses.

A sub-committee of two to three faculty members will write the Comprehensive Exam questions for each area of specialization, basing questions on reading lists and, in some instances, student coursework. The same sub-committee will evaluate the student’s written performance (pass or fail). The results of these evaluations will be compiled by the Graduate Coordinator and communicated to the student.

The student must pass the written portion in order to proceed to the oral portion.

The Oral Component

The oral component will take place via BlazeView in the form of Blackboard Collaborate, or via a similar technology, subject to approval by the Graduate Studies Committee.

The oral component will be a follow up to the written portion.

Additional Policies

The examination should be taken during or immediately after the final semester of course work. 

If a student does not pass the written portion of the exam on the first try, the student may retake the written portion one additional time.

The student must wait no fewer than two weeks before attempting the written portion a second time.  The student may wait longer; however, students who do not enroll in courses for two consecutive semesters or who do not make a second attempt in that period must reapply to be admitted to the program.

The exam committee must make recommendations to the student in writing about how best to prepare for the second attempt.

If the student does not pass the exam on the second attempt, the student will not be awarded the degree.

Additional information (including step-by-step instructions) for preparing for and completing the MAESLAT Comprehensive Exam can be found on the MAESLAT program page in BlazeView: "MAESLAT Information."