Carnegie Mellon University  Department of Physics
General Written Graduate Qualifying Exam
The next General Written Graduate Qualifying Exam will be held Monday, February 25
from 9amnoon, in Wean 7425, and Tuesday, February 26 from 9amnoon, in Wean 7425.
It will be a written exam, closed book, with no notes and no calculators allowed.
Passing the General Written Graduate Qualifying Exam is one of the steps to
qualify for PhD candidacy and/or the Master's degree. All graduate students
who have not yet taken or passed this exam are required to take it.
NOTE: Students who want to earn a Masters degree but are not
planning to continue on to PhD candidacy, need to take only Day 1 of
the exam.
The exam will cover Quantum Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism,
Statistical Mechanics, and Mathematical Physics at the level of our
first year graduate courses, as well as Classical Mechanics at the
advanced undergraduate level. This year's exam will resemble prior written
exams in coverage and difficulty. Day 1 (Classical Physics) will cover
Classical Mechanics, Electrodynamics, and Mathematical Physics. Day 2 (Modern
Physics) will cover Quantum Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, and General
Physics. In the "General Physics Problem" students are expected to reason
their way through backoftheenvelope type questions involving general
knowledge of physics at the undergraduate level including Atomic, Condensed
Matter, Astrophysics, Nuclear and Particle Physics as well as Special
Relativity. The following book gives an idea of the type of knowledge and
thinking required for the General Physics problem:
BackoftheEnvelope Physics
by Clifford Swartz, Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0801872634.
Reference copies of this book will be available in the 6th floor lounge
Wean 6327.
In order to pass the qualifying exam you must pass each of the
"Day 1" and "Day 2" exams individually. A student who fails the exam
may retake it subject to departmental policy. A student who does not
pass one Day but does pass the other, needs to retake only the Day
he/she did not pass. You will be informed of your result on the exam,
in person, at the end of the week.
We urge you to review all of the subjects covered on the exam. You are
allowed  in fact, encouraged!  to study with other students and
consult with faculty prior to the exam. Collaboration *during* the exam
is obviously not allowed.
Sample problems from previous exams:
 August 2012
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 February 2012
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 August 2011
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 January 2011
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 August 2010
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 February 2010
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 August 2009
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 February 2009
 Day 1 (None)
Day 2 ( pdf )
 August 2008
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 February 2008
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 August 2007
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 February 2007
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 August 2006
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 February 2006
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
 August 2005
 Day 1 ( pdf )
Day 2 ( pdf )
Below is some material from a recent undergraduate
Classical Mechanics sequence at CMU, taught by Prof. Curtis Meyer
(33331 Physical Mechanics I) and by Prof. Rupert Croft
(33332 Physical Mechanics II).
 33331 Syllabus ( pdf )
 33331 Exams (all pdf format)
( Exam1 )
( Exam2 )
( Exam3 )
( Final Exam )
 33332 Syllabus ( pdf )
 33332 Homeworks (all pdf format)
( HW1 )
( HW2 )
( HW3 )
( HW4 )
( HW5 )
( HW6 )
( HW7 )
 33332 Recitation Problems (all pdf format)
( rec01 )
( rec02 )
( rec03 )
( rec04 )
( rec05 )
( rec06 )
( rec07 )
( rec08 )
( rec09 )
( rec10 )
( rec11 )
( rec12 )
( rec13 )
( rec14 )
With best wishes,
The Exam Committee:
Profs. Robert Griffiths, Mathias Loesche, Curtis Meyer(Chair), Robert Suter, Robert Swendsen.
