Each department at Princeton administers a comprehensive exam or final exercise to concentrators at the end of senior year. The Comprehensive Examination in English poses questions that invite students to range across their coursework in English, demonstrating skills in literary and cultural analysis and critical thinking. Half of the exam consists in passages for commentary, an opportunity for close reading of texts from sources you have likely encountered in your studies. (Two passages may be chosen from a list of about fifteen, which spans the curriculum.) The other half is an essay question, again chosen from a list of options, that asks for thinking synthetically across multiple texts about basic questions in our discipline. (Examples can be downloaded from the menu at left.) In 2021, the exam will be four hours in a single session, to be taken virtually some time between 8 AM and 8 PM on May 6. The exam grade is recorded on the transcript, and counts for 10% in the calculation of departmental honors.
The English Department is at a moment of transition between two exam formats. The class of '21 will take the Comprehensive Exams, examples of which can be downloaded via links on the menu at left. The class of '22 will take the new Common Exam. Resources for the Common Exam are now available at the new Common Works website.