I am in a program A as a first year student and I failed one of two qualifying exam parts. However, when I applied for double checking my answers, I met plenty of obstacles.

One professor initially told me a wrong score. She corrected it later. When I asked to check my original answers, she refused.

Moreover, I am not in a good relationship with the professor who is responsible for the qual exam. I used to point out her incorrect arguments in class.

Now I had several papers and I believed that I enjoyed doing research. But I am not very interested in the course offered in program A and I am sure that doing the qual exam again is a waste of time.

Moreover, even if I passed the qual exam next year, I may meet obstacles from other professors. Therefore, I am afraid of wasting more time.

I have not discussed details with my advisor. He has duties in programs B and C, which have a different qual exam. For example, they only need to do a presentation.

My final target is to graduate in five years and work in academia.

1 Answer 1


Your path seems clear since you don't particularly like your current course of study, but your advisor, who supports you (apparently) is in another track.

Talk to the advisor about your options. If their sub-field is attractive to you, ask to join it. If not, seek another advisor in a field interesting to you and speak with them.

But banging your head against a wall brings pain, not enlightenment in most cases.

Switching universities should also be on the table in your set of options, especially if you advisor can help with that.

You might also rethink your in-class behavior. If you are seen as argumentative it might cause you problems in the future. I used to point out issues in lectures, but more in the form of questions when I didn't understand a (math) proof. But I never sounded like I was challenging the competence of the professor. That would be stepping over the line. (I realize that I don't have full information about your conflicts, of course.)

  • Thanks a lot. I have finished my transfer and I will continue my work at another program.
    – Neyman
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 0:25

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