It is the student's responsibility to prepare for the topics on the syllabus for each individual exam. The courses do not usually cover all the material that is required for the written exams. Get the syllabi from the graduate office, and make sure you know what the requirements are to prevent unpleasant surprises.
It is expected that the problems that are handed in by the students should be written in a coherent manner, in enough detail to show that there is understanding and knowledge of the necessary concepts and techniques. It is not necessarily helpful to state any theorem and result that might be related in the slightest manner.
Guidelines for preparation for the written exams:
- Try to take the exams as early as possible. In particular, take an exam as soon as you finish the corresponding course sequence, or even while you are still taking the course sequence. You have nothing to lose (except your time and your pride) by taking the exams too early, but you have a lot to lose by putting them off.
- Get all the old exams, and TRY TO DO AS MANY PROBLEMS AS POSSIBLE. Get homeworks, notes and exams for the courses from other students and go over them.
- Form study groups. Prepare before you meet - don't waste your time. Talk to people in your courses; find out who signed up for the same exams as you did.
- Do not hesitate to ask faculty members for help if you get stuck studying.
- Try to start studying as early as October if you plan on taking the January exams. It is very hard to find enough time during a busy term, and also take into account that the holidays get in the way.
- Time yourself when you do old problems. On the exam you have 40 minutes for each problem, therefore it is helpful to practice under time restrictions.
Help on the www: Suggestions from Professor O'Leary in the CS Department