The Catholic University of America

Comprehensive Examination > Format for the Comprehensive Examination

Format and Procedures

Two questions will be given, and students will choose one to answer. Students will prepare a professional essay that is between 2,000 and 2,500 words long to address one of the two questions. The text document should be formatted as follows: 12 pt. font, double-spaced, 1-in. margins. Files should be saved according to an established file naming convention and in one of the selected file formats (.doc, .docx, .rtf, pdf).

Questions are given at 9 a.m. on Friday, and the critical essay is due at 9 a.m. on Monday. The essay will be submitted electronically and students may complete it at a location of their choosing.

This is an open book exam. Students are free to consult any information sources or resources, in print or online, but are prohibited from consulting others for answers or assistance, such as posting questions to listservs, blogs, Facebook, and other discussion forums. 

Each student will be assigned a unique ID number by the Program Coordinator and should use the ID number in the filename. All essays will remain anonymous throughout the evaluation process.

Expectations

Students are expected to present their ideas in a professional manner, using graphs, models, tables, etc. as appropriate. The essay should NOT be a literature review paper. The essay should demonstrate competencies required by the question and reflect learning from coursework, knowledge of the literature, analytical ability, and ability to synthesize learning from various sources.

The essay should incorporate relevant citations to support the author’s arguments. Citations should be presented in the APA style.

Sample Question

Developing a digital collection raises issues in the following areas: collection development, acquisitions, access, information organization, user services, technology, management, and preservation.

In an information environment of your choice, identify four areas from the list above and discuss three essential issues in each of the four areas that library and information professionals must consider in order to build a successful digital collection.

In addition, discuss three new opportunities and three challenges that a digital collection presents to library and information professionals. You must include references to the literature where you will analyze and synthesize the major scholarly works in this area.

How to Prepare for the Exam

Practice writing professional essays and seek input from advisors and other faculty members. Prior to the exam, be prepared with appropriate knowledge and materials. Students can do additional research once they receive the questions; however, they should be well prepared going into the exam weekend. The examination is not course-specific, nor is it based on a specific course of study.