Economics Comprehensive Exams
The Senior Comprehensive Exam in Economics has two parts; If a student fails the Paper Essay exam, he will receive a Failing grade on the Economics Comprehensive Exam and be required to take that part of the exam again. Note the breakdown below:
Timing and Content
The first day's objective exam is 3 hours long, beginning at 8:45 AM, and consists of 140 or so multiple choice questions that cover the following topics:
40 questions on Micro Theory
40 questions on Macro Theory
3 questions from each field course at Wabash College
The Paper essay exam is on the second day from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM.
Oral exams are given in late January and early February.
Students pick up their Senior Comprehensive Exam grades (Distinction, High Pass, Pass, or Fail) from the Dean's Office (in Center Hall) beginning on the first Monday before spring break.
Students who fail a portion of the exam are notified by the Dean of Students and arrangements are immediately made to retake the exam.
For a brief history of comps results, please see Comps Data since 1980.
The second day's essay exam is graded by one or two economics professors. Each grader does not make any notes or marks on the blue books nor does the grader know the student's name. Each blue book is marked solely by a Student ID. Only at the end of the entire comps process (objective and essay writtens and oral exams) after final grades are determined are the student names revealed.
Objective (Multiple Choice) Grading
The exam is graded on a 1 point if correct, minus 1/4 point if wrong, 0 if blank scoring system (like the SAT, GRE, etc.) The upshot of this scoring system is that you should NOT guess if you cannot reduce the right answer to one of four (or fewer) choices. Most of the questions have FIVE choices. If you cannot eliminate any of the choices, do NOT answer the question. The exam was NOT designed for the student to answer every question. If you haven't had Law and Economics, for example, and cannot eliminate any of the choices, do NOT randomly guess -- leave the question blank. You won't get any points, but neither will you lose a quarter-point for a wrong answer.
A Demonstration for You
Because the rationale for not guessing is based on probability, we offer an Excel Monte Carlo demonstration. Check it out and test your knowledge of the box model!
By clicking on the Microsoft Excel file called MULTIPLE.XLS below, you will download the file to your browser's download directory. After launching Microsoft Excel, you can navigate to your browser's download folder and open the file.
Different browsers handle downloads differently, but the idea is to save the file somewhere so that you can open it with Excel. For example, your browser may warn you that you are about to download a file onto your hard drive or it may ask you if you want to save the file to disk in order to protect your computer from a virus. Do pay close attention to where the file is saved so that you can easily find it from Excel. If your browser is configured with Excel as a "helper application" or "plug in," it will automatically launch Excel to view the file. This saves you the work of having to launch Excel and open the file manually.
If you have Excel97, DO enable macros when you open the Excel file. The MULTIPLE.XLS file contains a neat macro that enables the Monte Carlo to run. If you elect to disable the macro, the sheets will not work right.
In one of those quirks that makes the computer world so much fun, the Mac side download with Excel as a helper application (as in the Kingery and Detchon Mac Labs) will be different depending on whether or not Excel is running. If Excel is NOT running, the download will appear seamless to you. Your Mac will launch Excel and then open the multiple.xls file. If Excel IS ALREADY OPEN, you will go to Excel and a File Open dialog box may appear. You must choose the multiple.xls file from the files in your download folder in order to access the file.
When you are ready, right-click here and Save Target As to download the Excel workbook named MULTIPLE.XLS (89K)
2008 --Comps and Answers Zip file (1.8 MB)
2007 -- Comps and Answers Zip file (1.2 MB)
2006 -- Comps and Answers Zip file (264K)
2005 -- Comps and Answers Zip file (252K)
2004 -- Comps and Answers Zip File (1.1 MB)
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