The Bear Truth

By Thomas P. Hoban Sr., '61

I’m not sure when I first heard about the Sophomore Comprehensive Examination. Sometimes it was referred to as “The Orals.” But soon after I entered Notre Dame in 1957, I heard the Liberal Arts students talking about the rigors of that test scheduled to be given at the end of sophomore year.
I can only imagine that the purpose was twofold: First, to find out if anything a student had studied the first two years had sunk in. Second, to determine if a student could communicate sensibly. There were horror stories circulating around the dorms that certain students who failed the test were told they couldn’t return. The reported numbers of the unfortunates were in the hundreds. To this day I am told that our class of 1961 had the poorest graduation rate in the history of the school. Whether the oral examination was just too much for some or if it was due to the Holy Cross Priest who taught Symbolic Logic freshman year (He was Chinese, had just returned from China, and we couldn’t understand him), I really can’t tell you. Whatever the reason, no one looked forward to The Orals at the end of the sophomore year.…

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The Bear Truth

By Thomas P. Hoban Sr., '61

I’m not sure when I first heard about the Sophomore Comprehensive Examination. Sometimes it was referred to as “The Orals.” But soon after I entered Notre Dame in 1957, I heard the Liberal Arts students talking about the rigors of that test scheduled to be given at the end of sophomore year.

I can only imagine that the purpose was twofold: First, to find out if anything a student had studied the first two years had sunk in. Second, to determine if a student could communicate sensibly. There were horror stories circulating around the dorms that certain students who failed the test were told they couldn’t return. The reported numbers of the unfortunates were in the hundreds. To this day I am told that our class of 1961 had the poorest graduation rate in the history of the school. Whether the oral examination was just too much for some or if it was due to the Holy Cross Priest who taught Symbolic Logic freshman year (He was Chinese, had just returned from China, and we couldn’t understand him), I really can’t tell you. Whatever the reason, no one looked forward to The Orals at the end of the sophomore year.…

Read More