The 2016 Physics Preliminary Exam for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. will be given over the course of two days. The exam consists of four parts. Part I (Classical Mechanics) will be given from 9 am to 12 pm on Friday, August 12, and Part II (Quantum Mechanics) will be given that afternoon from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. Part III (Electricity and Magnetism) will be given from 9 am to 12 pm on Saturday, August 13, and Part IV (Statistical Mechanics and Math Physics) will be given that afternoon from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.
Graduate students, who will have completed their first-year study in May and have not already passed all four parts of the exam, must take the exam this August. Students working toward the terminal Masters degree may take the exam in place of an oral exam.
Each part of the exam will consist of 6 problems. All 6 problems will be scored and the highest 5 scores will count in the total for that part of the exam. Based on the work shown, anywhere from 0 points to a full 20 points may be received for each problem.
The topics covered by the four parts of the Physics Preliminary Exam are listed below. A question and answer session regarding the exam procedures will be held for you on Friday, January 15, at 3:35 pm in E.125 (in place of Graduate Physics Colloquium).
The Preliminary Exam Committee will be soliciting problems from Physics Department faculty to add to the problem bank. The faculty will be given the list of topics below and will be asked to submit problems from topics on this list. Out of this problem bank, our committee will pick a balanced set of problems for the exam. After the exam has been taken, our committee will then grade all of the problems.
To help students prepared for the Prelim, the Committee will offer a practice exam at the end of May. Currently, the Committee is considering 1-day, 2 three and half hours exam sessions in the real prelim-like setting using an old exam copy. Neither problems will be graded nor solutions will be provided. It is to offer students an opportunity to assess their problem-solving skills in a simulated environment. More information on this will be available later in spring.
We would also like to inform you that the old exam problems are available on the web in a PDF file. The exams may be downloaded from the file located at http://www.baylor.edu/physics/doc.php/258274.pdf (Since the document is long, please conserve paper by printing specific pages only as you use them.)
Best regards, The Preliminary Exam Committee Drs. K. Park (chair), G. Cleaver, L. Matthews, and A. Wang |

Part I. Classical MechanicsThe Classical Mechanics (CM) Preliminary Exam will test basic concepts of classical mechanics and related applications to physical problems. The exam will cover both (i) material presented in PHY 5320 (the first semester of graduate CM at Baylor) and (ii) material generally presented at the undergraduate level. The topics that may be covered in the exam are given in the list below.
The graduate level at which these topics will be covered is on par with Goldstein, Poole & Safko�s
Part II. Quantum MechanicsThe Quantum Mechanics (QM) Preliminary Exam will test basic concepts of quantum mechanics and related applications to physical problems. The exam will cover both (i) material presented in PHY 5370-5371 (the full year of graduate QM at Baylor) and (ii) material generally presented at the undergraduate level. The topics that may be covered in the exam are given in the list below.
The graduate level at which these topics will be covered is on par with Sakurai�s
Part III. Electricity and MagnetismThe Electricity & Magnetism (E&M) Preliminary Exam will test basic concepts of electromagnetics and related applications to physical problems. The exam will cover both (i) material presented in PHY 5330 (the first semester of graduate E&M at Baylor) and (ii) material generally presented at the undergraduate level. The topics that may be covered in the exam are given in the list below.
At the graduate level, problems will be based at the level of Jackson�s Most undergraduate textbooks use the MKS (SI) system while graduate-level texts use the Gaussian system. You are expected to know the difference between the two systems; however, you are free to use the formulas in either system of units.
Part IV. Statistical Mechanics & Mathematical PhysicsThe Statistical Mechanics section of Part IV of the Preliminary Exam will test basic concepts of statistical mechanics and thermal physics. The exam will cover both (i) material presented in PHY 5340 (graduate Statistical Mechanics at Baylor) and (ii) material generally presented at the undergraduate level. The topics that may be covered in the exam are given in the list below.
The graduate level at which these topics will be covered is on par with Pathria's
First order and critical phase transitions
Kinetic Theory
The Mathematical Physics section of Part IV of the Preliminary Exam will test basic concepts of mathematical physics at the level of
Vectors, Matrices, and Coordinates
Functions of a Complex Variable
Fourier Series
Integral Transforms
Linear Differential Equations of Second Order
Partial Differential Equations
Green Functions |