Preliminary Examination

All students must pass the Preliminary Examination in order to continue with the program.

  • The Preliminary Examination consists of written examinations in the following three subjects: algebra, analysis, and geometry/topology.
  • Incoming students are invited and encouraged to take the Preliminary Examination upon entrance. There is no penalty for failing to pass a preliminary examination taken upon entrance to the program.
  • Incoming students will be required to take the first-year course in each of the prelim subjects they do not pass upon entrance, unless they submit documentation of having passed a comparable course at another institution (or other compelling evidence of familiarity with a subject).
  • The Preliminary Examination is given during New Student Week in September and at the end of the academic year (typically June).

  • Graduate students must take the Preliminary Examination in all three subjects by the end of their first academic year. Students who do not pass the Preliminary Examination by the end of their first year must pass a make-up examination in September of their second year in order to continue in the program beyond the first quarter of the second year. In the presence of strong evidence of other mathematical accomplishment, this rule may be modified or waived with the approval of the Graduate Committee.

  • An award is offered at the end of each academic year to the student who has achieved the best performance in the Preliminary Examination. The award is accompanied by a monetary prize.

Syllabuses for the preliminary examinations and copies of past examinations are available.

The rules for the Preliminary Examination are posted here.