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The cumulative exams, known as "cumes", encourage you to understand the significance of recent advances in chemistry and be able to critically apply fundamental chemical concepts to new and unusual observations.

The Office of Graduate Studies requires every doctoral candidate to pass a preliminary examination consisting of both written and oral parts. In the Department of Chemistry, a series of cumulative examinations can completely or partially satisfy the written requirement.


  • You must pass 5 cumulative examinations by the end of your second year of study and are allowed 15 attempts out of 20 opportunities.
  • Cumulative exams are given on the second Saturday of the month from September through June in Room 2102 from 9AM to 11AM, unless otherwise noted.
  • A question booklet containing the following five different exams will be distributed: analytical, biological, inorganic, physical, and organic. Nuclear cumulative exams are given at irregular intervals.
  • Exams will be graded on an A, B, C, F scale. An A or B are outright passes. A grade of C counts as a pass only it is offset by an A on any previous or subsequent exam, and an A can offset only one C.
  • Scores will be posted in E-Learning as exams are graded.  Graded exams are returned to your advisor. You may inspect and photocopy the graded exam, but the original must remain with the faculty advisor as part of your permanent file.
  • If you do not pass the cumes within 15 attempts you will not be permitted to continue in the Ph.D. program.

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