The Common Exam is based on ten works—a mix of novels, drama, poetry, nonfiction, film, and theory—particular to each class of The Common Exam is based on ten works—a mix of novels, drama, poetry, nonfiction, film, and theory—particular to each class of English majors. The works are each class’s reading in common, works many faculty in the English Department value and teach and want students to know. Our hope is to make not just a reading list but a community of conversation across a diverse major.
When students sign in to the major, they receive that year’s list of ten works/authors proposed by faculty, as well as an estimate of when those works/authors will be taught and in what courses in the following two years.
Each fall, every faculty member proposes a work that he/she/they feel is important for the study of English, and that he/she/they plan Over junior and senior year, each class of majors will have ample opportunity to read and think about the ten works for their class, in several different contexts:
From this long list, the Committee of Departmental Study (CDS)
- The works will be taught in courses, at least once, and often twice, in the two years. Majors do not need to take the courses in which the works are taught; the class sessions in which the works are taught will be recorded and available to watch.
- There will be panels, conversations, and other events organized around the works. If any students would like to initiate a particular event or discussion, please let the DUS (Professor Johnson, 2021-22) and the Outreach Coordinator (Jackie Campbell, 2021-22) know.
- Students are encouraged to visit the office hours of the faculty who are attached to the individual works to speak to them at any time in the next two years.
- NEW: To accommodate those who may be interested in texts that do not happen to be included on the Common Works list, each student has the option of substituting one text of his/her/their own choice on the Common Exam. Note, however, that the Department will only schedule events or talks about works included on each year’s formal list.
When students sign in to the major, they receive that year’s list of What exactly will the exam be like? It will take place on one day in McCosh Hall. All seniors will be given university laptops to write on. The exam is open book, which means everybody should bring the Common Works with them to the exam. No other books will be permitted – unless you have opted to substitute a single other book of your choice. There will be no internet access. The exam will ask you to write short essays about five of the Common Texts (or four of them, if you have opted to substitute one work of your choice)
Over junior and senior year, each class of majors will have ample The exam is in two parts – one in the morning, and the other in the afternoon after a lunch break. Each section is three hours long. The best way to get to know the format of the exam and the kinds of questions it will ask, see the sample exam we include here.