Exam Policy (Spanish)

The M.A. Comprehensive Examinations

Before taking the M.A. examinations students must first satisfy the following requirements:
  1. Successful completion of all required units and courses.
  2. Fulfillment of both levels of the written English requirement, and
  3. Have a Screening Interview (fogueo).
The M.A. examinations are given twice a year, in the Fall and Spring semesters. (See the Graduate Adviser for specific dates.) The exam has both a written and an oral element, both of which are taken in the same semester. Oral examinations are given only if the student passes the written examination.

The Written Examination

  1. The semester prior to the day of the written examination, students are given ten essay questions, four covering Spanish literature of all periods and six covering Latin American literature of all periods. On the days of the exam students answer five of the ten questions. The written examination is five hours long and is given in two sessions -- three hours the first day and two the second.
  2. Each participating professor will read the entire written exam, but grades only his or her own question with a number from 1 through 5, according to the following standards:
  • 0 = no response
  • 2 = lowest passing grade for each question
  • 5 = highest grade possible for any question.
  1. In order for a candidate to advance to the oral exam, he or she must score at least 15 points for the entire exam (the maximum possible is 25). In addition to this total of 15, one must score at least two points on each of the five sections of the examination.
  2. If a candidate scores fewer than two points on one section, and only one section, of the written exam, and still scores a total of 15 points for the entire exam, he or she may take another exam on the section not passed; if this make-up exam is passed successfully the candidate may then proceed to the oral exam. Should a candidate score fewer than two points on more than one section, regardless of the total points scored, the entire written exam must be repeated. Any repeated exams, partial or otherwise, may be taken no sooner than the semester following the original written examination. The written examination may not be attempted more than twice.

The Oral Examination

  1. Oral exam committees consist of three voting members from the Spanish faculty: a chair plus two other members, all of whom are appointed by the Graduate Advisor. Any other interested Spanish faculty member may attend and participate as a non-voting member.
  2. Unlike the written questions that concentrate on only a few topics, the questions during the oral exam are wide-ranging and cover all aspects and periods of Spanish and Latin American literature.
  3. The oral exam may not be attempted more than twice.
  4. The second attempt may not take place until the semester following the original exam.


  1. The oral examination, taken only after a student passes the written exam, is conducted by three members of the Spanish faculty chosen by the Graduate Coordinator.  The exam lasts about an hour and is based on two lists of literary works: one, an “Obligatory List,” which is the same for all students, and an “Individual List,” created by each student.
  2. The Obligatory List, required of all students, contains works of acknowledged importance from Spain and Latin America.  All students are expected to have read and analyzed all the works on the Obligatory List; the list appears below.
  3. In addition to and distinct from the works on the “Obligatory List,” each student will prepare an “Individual List” consisting of 20 works that reflect his or her particular interests in Spanish and/or Latin American literature.  
  4. The following rules govern the creation and submission of one’s Individual List:
  5. Individual Lists may not contain works from the Obligatory List, though other works by the same author may be submitted; the Quijote may not appear on an Individual List, for example, but a student with a special interest in Cervantes could include his novelas ejemplares or entremeses.
  6. Works chosen for Individual Lists may be poetry, drama, fiction or essay.
  7. In choosing the 20 works of an Individual list, a novel, short story, drama or essay will count as a single work, and five poems by the same poet will count as a single work.
  8. Regardless of their genre, all works on an Individual List must be judged by the Spanish faculty to be significant for their originality, historical importance or the stature of their author.
  9. For their Individual Lists, students may choose works from the list below, “Suggested Works for Individual Lists,” or works studied in classes or seminars.  If works by a certain author appear on the “Suggested Works …” list, any other work by that author, though not listed, may normally be included on an Individual List.
  10. Individual Lists shall be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator at least two weeks prior to the screening interview, or fogueo, where the list shall be amended as necessary and approved by the committee members.  All works on an Individual List must be formally approved at the fogueo.
  11.  Once approved, an Individual List becomes part of the basis for the oral exam and the student should expect questions regarding the works he or she has chosen. We encourage students to start planning Individual Lists early in their coursework and consult with faculty members as they do so.
This policy takes effect on January 21, 2008. Graduate students who are enrolled in the Spanish MA Program as of this date but have not yet taken the oral exam may do so under the previous policy or the new one described above.  Students admitted to the Program after January 21, 2008 must adhere to new policy.