Oral Exam

The oral comprehensive examination is an exit requirement for all MLISc candidates who started the LIS Program prior to the Fall 2018 semester and are not completing a master’s thesis. The exam must be taken in the student’s last regular semester: fall if graduating in the fall, spring if graduating in the spring or the summer. The oral exam scenarios are available online:

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An orientation session will be scheduled each fall and spring by the Program Chair and notice sent to the LIS student mailing list. At the session, the Chair will go over the purpose, requirements, and schedule for the exam. The Chair will also provide suggestions in preparing for the exam.

Fall 2019 Orientation – Sept. 4 @ 12:00p-12:45p – HL Room 003G

Oral Exam Schedule

After submitting a list of four preferred dates and times (i.e., “morning” or “afternoon”) at the orientation, students will be assigned a specific date and time for their exam. Exams are scheduled on Fridays throughout the semester and each student has a maximum of one hour to complete their exam. The exam committee is comprised of two LIS faculty members per student.

Preparing for the Oral Exam

  • Students may study in groups; however, the exam must be taken individually.
  • Students should read each scenario carefully to determine the intent of the scenario and the major questions posed.
  • There is no specific reading list for the exam. Rather, students must cull from the various courses they have taken, seeking out relevant resources and notes. In addition, they should search the University’s print collection and online journal databases.
  • Students should reference current or foundational research in their responses, but need not memorize a complete citation; the title, author, and year are generally sufficient.
  • Students are encouraged to dress professionally for the exam, but will not be graded on attire.

Exam Rules

  • Students may not bring study notes with them into the exam room; a printed copy of the exam scenarios will be supplied.
  • Each response must demonstrate evidence of the following:
    • Succinct overview of historical background relevant to the issue or problem.
    • Organized analysis of situation.
    • Clear description of methodology and/or rationale for handling the situation.
    • Meaningful connections made between theory and application in a particular information center context.
  • Follow-up questions may be asked at the committee members’ discretion.
  • Any exam retakes must be scheduled with the Program Coordinator. Students are also encouraged to meet with their faculty advisors when preparing for a retake.

Distance Education Students

Neighbor island students may request to take the oral exam online. The exam would still be given by two LIS faculty asking questions on Zoom or another synchronous videoconferencing system. The student must also secure permission for a proctor to oversee the remote site. The proctor should be an MLS/ MLIS/ MLISc graduate who is willing to observe the hour-long exam to make sure there are no notes or other unethical behavior. The proctor needs to be approved by the Program Chair when submitting the request for oral exam dates. Students taking the exam online are permitted to have a printed copy of the exam scenarios during the exam, subject to verification by the proctor that there are no study notes on the printout.


The committee members will make pass, retake, or fail decisions immediately following completion of the exam. Students are required to step outside briefly while committee members deliberate.

If the exam committee determines that the student must retake the exam, they will inform the student of the specific section(s) that must be retaken and the student will have a minimum of two weeks to study before retaking the exam. A new committee will then evaluate the second exam.

All evaluation scores and comments will be recorded and filed in the student’s academic file and may be reviewed once the student has successfully completed the entire exam.