Preliminary Examination

For help, contact the VP Academic.

The physics preliminary exam is required for completion of a PhD in Physics. It has to be taken within the first year of the PhD program.

Don’t forget to register for it in the winter term (Phys 700)

The exam takes place over 2 days, some time around the end of May. The first day consists in short-answer questions (usually 10-15) and the second day is for long-answer questions (usually 5-7). The major fields of Physics tested are:

  • Classical Mechanics and Special Relativity
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Electricity, Magnetism and Electrodynamics
  • Optics

There are no questions on more specific subfields of physics such as particle physics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, geophysics, medical physics, or astrophysics.

Students typically study for up to two months prior to taking this exam, where 1 month is the minimum recommended to the supervisor to let their students review for the exam.

Past prelim exams can be found here: http://www.physics.mcgill.ca/grads/prelim/