2021 Fall Comprehensive Exam

Exam Overview

This exam contains 55 questions covering Ch. 10-16 material. The exam is multiple choice and responses will be collected on a scantron. The exam time runs from 5:30 PM - 6:50 PM. I will grant a few extra minutes to account for the time it takes to pass out the exam.

When You Arrive

Please show up early to the exam. When you arrive, place your bags/things at the front of the room on the stage all the way to the very back. Grab a scantron, a few sheets of scratch paper, and be seated in your assigned seat. Use this opportunity to fill out your scantron accurately!

Exam Cover Page

The first page of your exam will look like similar to the following:

The cover page includes the instructions for the exam (transcribed below).




This instruction is created to mirror the final exam which is the ACS Final Exam for Chemistry II. You will not be allowed to write in the ACS exam booklet. If you do, the booklet must be paid for (to the department) to be given your grade. You will be allowed scratch paper for the final exam.

By implementing this rule for the comprehensive exam, I hope to eliminate anyone accidentally (or deliberately) writing in the exam booklet. Failure to adhere to this rule will result in a 10-point grade deduction for the comprehensive exam.

Honor Code

By taking this exam you agree to the MSU Honor Pledge: As an MSU student I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do.


The MSU Honor Code is printed on the first page as per the suggestion of the Student Honor Code office. It is printed to remind the test taker that the MSU Honor Code is in full effect for this assignment. The jury is still out on whether or not including this statement makes any difference. Past Honor Code violations seem to indicate that those who decide to break the rules do not respect the rules, regardless of how many times we bring awareness to it.

Allowed Materials

  • Pencil
  • Scratch paper (provided by the professor)
  • Scientific calculator (non-programmable, non-graphing)
  • Scantron
  • 3 in. x 5 in. index card


These are the only things you should need to take your exam. Upon writing this, I realized I should have included that you can definitely bring an eraser. Sometimes those small pencil erasers are not sufficient. So please feel free to bring one if you so choose.

Additional comments:

Please note that while it is impossible to make a comprehensive list of things that are not allowed, please use common sense (or ask me!).

Below are a few things I can think of that are not allowed but perhaps wouldn’t immediately be realized:

  • Watches (of any kind)
  • Cell phones
  • Any device that is capable of connecting to the internet
  • Headphones
  • Any electronic device (unless explicitly allowed: see “Allowed Materials”)
  • Sunglasses

Regarding attire, I should be able to see your head/face/eyes while you are taking your exam. Obviously masks are still required.

Scantron Directions

  1. Last Name - Print and bubble in
  2. First Name - Print and bubble in
  3. Identification # - Print and bubble in your 9-digit MSU ID number
  4. Signature - Sign the top left corner of your scantron
  5. Exam ID - Write the Exam ID in the top right of your scantron


I will provide the scantrons.

Most of this is self-explanatory. However, I must stress that you must accurately fill out your scantron including your 9-digit ID. If you do not accurately fill out the scantron, you will be given a zero for the exam. Please take the time to accurately fill out your scantron.

The “Exam ID” will be printed at the top-right corner of each page of your exam. When you get your exam, please write the Exam ID in the top right-corner of your scantron.

Below is an image illustrating how to fill out your scantron. You can view a larger image by right-clicking on the image below and clicking “Open Image in New Tab”.

Please note that for the “Last/First Name” and “Identification #”, you must

  1. Print the appropriate characters in the boxes provided (from left to right) AND
  2. Fill in the appropriate bubbles for each character entered.

Leave blank boxes blank and don’t fill in bubbles corresponding to blank boxes. If your name has more characters than there are boxes, fill in as many characters as possible.

Showing up early to the examination room will allow you to fill out your scantron as carefully as possible before the exam begins.

Please note once again that if you do not accurately fill out your scantron, you will earn a zero for the exam.

You can ignore number 2 in the posted image. This is only used when we have multiple classes from different professors taking an exam in the same room.

Turning the Exam In

When your row is dismissed, approach the proper line (each line corresponds to Exam versions A, B, and C) and present your MSU ID and scantron to the TA for verification. You will turn in the following:

  1. Exam
  2. Scantron
  3. Scratch paper
  4. Index card


Given the number of students to check out, I will dismiss the room by row. When your row is called, approach the proper line (each line corresponds to an exam version). Be sure that you queue up in the proper line. I will point out where each “station” will be before the exam begins. Each station will be located at the front of the room.

When you turn in your materials, the TA will cross-check your MSU ID with your scantron. Once verified, the TA will collect from you each of the four items you will be turning in. You will then be crossed off of a master roster list. You may then collect your things and exit the examination room.

This “turn-in” procedure is similar to what we do with the final exam.

IMPORTANT: At some point at the end of the exam, I will ask that everyone stop their exam and put down your pencil. To keep things equitable, I will ask that everyone follow my instruction to stop working on your exam when I announce it. Failure to do so will result in a zero for the exam.

Seating Assignments

I will post your seating assignment to Canvas the day of the exam. The seating assignment document will be a PDF with two columns:

Be sure to check your seating assignment before coming to the examination room. It is your responsibility to do this. Do not wait to simply ask me when you show up for your exam.

Below is a seating chart for Dorman 140. When you get your seat assignment, look at where your seat will be in the seating chart so you have an idea of where to find your seat when you show up to the exam.

NOTE: DSS Students will be reporting to Dorman 134 to take their exams and will not have a seating assignment. The room is big and you will simply choose a seat and spread out in that room.

NOTE: To those who are left-handed, I was unable to modify my code in time to assign you a left-handed desk. Therefore, report to your assigned seat. As soon as you get your exam, feel free to immediately relocate yourself to a left-handed desk. The left-handed seats are labeled with “L” in the seating chart.

Passing out the Exam

Being in your assigned seat is critical. When I pass out the exam, the first person in a row will receive an exam stack. The person receiving the stack of exams should see their exam on top of the stack. They will grab their exam and pass the stack to their left. The next person should see their exam, grab it, and pass the exam stack to the left. We continue passing the stack left until it has reached the end of a row.

This form of passing out exams is very quick and efficient. That being said, it relies on teamwork. Please help your peers when passing down exams.

Be sure to only grab your exam. Sometimes exams will “stick” together at the staple.

If you do not see your exam at the top of the stack when it reaches you

  1. Check underneath the exam (i.e. look at the next exam) and see if it is yours. It is possible that the unclaimed exam was due to the fact that the student was not present or in the wrong seat. If you see an unclaimed exam in this manner, take the unclaimed exam and stick it at the bottom of the pile.

I will collect all unclaimed exams.

  1. It is possible that you are in the wrong seat and your exam is elsewhere in the room.
  2. It is possible that the person to your right accidentally took two exams. Please ask them to check for you if you suspect this.

No Cheating

Please don’t cheat on this exam. Follow the rules so that the exam remains equitable among all of your peers.

Wandering Eyes:

Every semester I bring up the concept of “wandering eyes”. Keep your eyes on your own exam. If I see anyone trying to look off of their neighbor’s work/exam, I will ask you to relocate yourself to a seat of my choosing. Please do not make this awkward and keep your eyes on your own exam.

Periodic Table

The very last page of your exam contains a periodic table should you need it.

55 Questions

There are 55 total questions on this exam. Please do not ignore the last page of the exam. In the past I have had people forget to look at the last page and miss a few questions. I’m not sure what more I can do to prevent this from happening.


Have we forgotten this yet? If so, I’ve stuck it here again as a friendly reminder.

Index Card

We discussed this in class already in detail. Yes you can use both sides of the index card.
That being said, remember to include your

  1. Name
  2. netID

in the top left corner of your index card. I should be able to clearly read it with my own eyeballs.

Also, please note that your index card must be able to be read by you without any magnification aids/devices. This shouldn’t have to be stated as a magnifying glass, etc. is not an allowed material.

Also, please no silly games with this. Don’t try to gain extra acreage. Keep your information within the 3 in. x 5 in. allowance. No accordion style pasties, no including information on the backside of something you’ve taped to your index card, etc.

You will be turning this in when you are dismissed from the exam so I implore you to make a copy of your index card if you intend to keep it.

No Bathroom Breaks

Look, this exam is 80 minutes. We can make it through 80 minutes. Plan ahead. If you have to leave, you forfeit the rest of your exam and it will be scored “as-is”. You must still go through the proper checkout procedure.

Make Ups

If, by some rare reason, you miss the exam and I honor an excused absence for it, your make-up exam will be given sometime during Final Exam week (the weekend is also fair game here) on a day of my choosing (to be determined).

It would be to your benefit to attend the Comprehensive Exam next Wednesday and not miss it given that a topic list has been provided and select (slightly modified) questions will be released before the exam. The make-up exam is not guaranteed to follow the released topic list nor contain the questions that were previewed.

Exam Question Survey Results

176 students out of 296 total completed this survey (that is a 60% response rate). I’m not sure why the response rate was so low, particularly due to the minimal-effort/high-reward scheme I was trying to implement. That said, here are the top 5 questions that were voted on (this was quite interesting to me):

  1. 14 votes - Q15 - van’t Hoff factor
  2. 14 votes - Q22 - Arrhenius Equation
  3. 13 votes - Q23 - Half-life
  4. 13 votes - Q33 - pH
  5. 12 votes - Q10 - Concentration Units

I have taken each question from the exam and very slightly modified them. I will give 3 questions to Caleb Meadows to present at their SI session, Monday at 7 PM in Hand 1100. I will give the remaining two to Chi Chi Sigma to present at their help session on Tuesday at 6:30 PM in the Library Auditorium 1000.

Author’s Closing Note

I’m sure there are more things I could write about here and I will likely do so as I think of more things over the next couple of days. It seems a bit odd that this much information has to be presented before an exam but past experience indicates that even with all of this information provided and discussed, it sometimes isn’t enough.