The Graduate Committee chooses two faculty members to write and two faculty members (usually the same ones) to grade each preliminary examination. Students identify their examination papers with only their ID numbers.

Each subject examination is graded from 0 to 3 in increments of 0.5. A total score of at least 6 (on the three exams) is required to pass the Preliminary Examination. Students with a total score less than 6 are deficient in those subjects in which the score was less than 2, and they must take make-up exams in as many subjects as they had deficiencies. These may be any subjects on the above list in which their score on the Preliminary Examination did not exceed 2.

Students who take the Preliminary Examination more than once in their first academic year are assigned a composite grade comprised of their three best scores on different examination subjects.

Make-up exams are graded on the same scale. If the score on each make-up exam is not 2 or higher, the student must leave the doctoral program at the end of the fall quarter. The Graduate Committee may, in the presence of exceptional mitigating circumstances, waive this rule, and determine on an ad hoc basis what further evidence the student must present in order to continue in the graduate program.