Comprehensive Exam

Undergraduate students have the option of taking the Comprehensive Exam, which serves as the gateway to Graduation with Distinction in Mathematics, and the Accelerated Bachelor's-Master's Degree program. It is given twice a year on the Monday before the beginning of Fall and Spring quarters.

General Information

The Fall 2020 exam will be administered online on

Monday, September 21, from 9 am to 5 pm. 

The exam may be taken by any undergraduate math major who has completed the courses covered by the exam (see below). 

Passing the Comprehensive Exam is a requirement for graduating with Distinction in Mathematics, and for entering the Accelerated BS/MS Program. Students who pass the exam are also eligible to take an unrestricted number of 500 level Math or M/CS course per quarter, provided they have the prerequisites for each course.

A student who fails the exam can choose to retake it at a subsequent testing date.

Students wishing to take the exam should sign up in advance by sending an email to Math.Department@wwu.edu

Exam Content

The exam problems will draw on the material of: Math 124, 125, 224, 225, 226, and 204. Note that Math 331 will no longer be covered. The objective is to test conceptual understanding of the important ideas in these courses and the ability to express that understanding clearly. Questions will tend to be neither routine computations nor tricky "Putnam-style" questions.

The exam will consist of 10 questions, each worth 10 points, and will be graded on a pass-fail basis. A score of 70% will generally be sufficient for a passing grade. Graphing calculators including the TI-89 or Nspire are permitted but texts or other materials are not.

Old comprehensive exams are not made public, but students can look at past master's program qualifying exams for practice with questions on similar material (please note that the master's exams do include Math 331 material).