Guidelines on Preparing for the Mathematics Preliminary Exams

The preliminary examination is a significant milestone in a graduate student's academic career. It is a written exam to assess knowledge of areas within the academic discipline. Below you'll find workshop and exam dates, as well as info on how to prepare for these exams.

The preparation of the preliminary exams is overseen by the Graduate Program Committee (GPC) (for the Analysis, Algebra, Topology exams) or Applied Math Graduate Group Executive Committee (GGAM exec) (for the Applied exam). The committee solicits problems from instructors who most recently taught the corresponding courses, suggests revisions, and selects appropriate problems for the exams. The instructors who most recently taught the corresponding courses are responsible for grading the exams. The GPC/GGAM exec reviews the scores and determines passing cut-off scores. Differences in cut-off scores from year to year and on different exams, allow the committees to account for differences between grading styles and difficulty levels of the exam problems, and to ensure passing scores are a reasonably accurate reflection of whether students have demonstrated sufficient mastery of the material. There is no requirement that some students fail the exam for others to pass, and there is not any distribution of passing scores imposed in setting the cut-offs.

Exam Dates

Current Math graduate students receive an email to register for the Prelim Exams around 2-3 weeks prior to the exam date.

Spring Quarter 2024 Prelim EXAM Dates:

Analysis: Monday, March 25, 2024
Topology: Tuesday, March 26, 2024
Applied: Tuesday, March 26, 2024
Algebra: Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Applied Math & Math Students sign up HERE

Prelim Workshop Dates

2024 Dates: To Be Determined


Algebra Prelim Workshop:
September 4th- 8th, 2023 - 9 am to 11 am 

Analysis Prelim Workshop:
August 7th-11th, 2023 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in MSB 2112 or Join Virtually

Topology Prelim Workshop:
September 4th-8th, 2023 - 11 am to 1 pm in MSB 2112

Applied Prelim Workshop:
September 5th - 8th, and 11th - 15th, 2023 from 9:00 am to 10:30 am in MSB 2240 

Preparing for the Mathematics Preliminary Exam in Algebra

Preparing for the Mathematics Preliminary Exam in Analysis

Preparing for the Mathematics Preliminary Exam in Topology

Preparing for the GGAM Applied Preliminary Exam