Back in the Spring of 1989, the PhD qualifying exam given by the Harvard University Department of Statistics was a 2-week long take-home exam. The theory part was to be completed in 5 days, and the applied part was to be finished in the remaining time. All the advice from more senior students could not adequately prepare me emotionally for the exam, so I thought it would be useful to future examinees to share my experience. And what better way to share the experience through a photo-essay! Here's what I looked like just before being handed the exam.
Judy, the department administrator, hands me the exam.
Opening the envelope (with Ralph D'Agostino and half of Pat Meehan looking on)...
Looking at the exam for the first time!
Working on one of the easier problems.
Choosing not to attempt one of the more difficult problems (some problems were optional).
Uh oh... Having trouble with one of those supposedly easy problems.
Handing in the first part of the exam. Professor Don Rubin makes his prediction.
Needing urgent clarification on a problem, but the professor is not in his office.
Asking Professor Herman Chernoff for a hint on a problem, but he is unwilling to help.
Slipping some money to Professor Hal Stern in exchange for some help on a problem - the amount is intentionally cut off from view.
Panic begins to take hold...
Standing on the outside balcony of the building, contemplating other "options."
Even the easiest problems somehow become tricky when in the middle of the qualifying exam.
Is there anything more debilitating than continuing this exam?!
One is allowed to use reference materials, but sometimes the faculty make using reference material a little more difficult than anticipated.
Trying to steal the (fictitious) answers to the qualifying exam.
Handing in the second part of the exam.
Opening up the envelope to find out if I passed the exam...
And I passed!!!!