As with all things related to a humanities PhD,  requirements vary from program to program, department to department, school to school, and university to university. The advice contained in this column is not intended as a supplement for your graduate student handbook. 

It’s February and we are introducing our WTF Topic of the Month. We’ve chosen to kick off WTF Topic of the Month with preliminary/field exams, also known as prelims or fields. You see, prelims and February have a lot in common. They are both short and brutal, but they can both be beautiful. Like sitting on a frozen lake in a frozen wilderness, prelims can be an amazing experience that changes your view of yourself and the world, but it takes training and is not for the faint of heart.

Hey There! I’m so happy you found this post! In the first year of abd2phd, I did a month long blog series on how to survive your prelims. Since then, I’ve updated this advice with what I’ve learned from clients and what I’ve learned about executive function. I created a series of worksheets to cover everything from your prelim timeline to assignments you could give your students if you have to teach during your prelims. I’ve put that all together in one place for your convenience. You can buy it here.


October? – Consistent. Creative. Complete. · October 1, 2018 at 10:01 pm

[…] you’ve wanted a deeper dive on any of the topics we’ve covered in the past (e.g. prelims/fields, being a first-gen or working-class PhD, task management, wonder & flow, and, yes, teaching) […]

WTF: Dissertating – Consistent. Creative. Complete. · October 3, 2018 at 6:04 pm

[…] can do all the other things we’ve discussed from prelims to teaching to service work and if you don’t write the damn dissertation then you don’t […]

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