This exam took two weeks to answer seven questions from my four committees. One of the questions was to write a NSF EAGER proposal. To be honest, this was the most difficult exam I have ever had in my life. The writing part requires broad reading, in-depth understanding, and insightful integrating of the literature. All needs to be done within two weeks. Everybody gets different questions. There is no easy way to prepare for this exam. I spent more than one year to prepare for this exam, which was likely as triple time as others would take. I went to the writing center for several months to work on my writing. I found a quite room to study the month before the exam and I also used that room for my exam. I took time off other work to make sure that I got least distraction during the exam, and I accumulated some moral support on file so that I can look at in case I feel frustrated and doubt about myself.
I had daily documentation of the progress. The whole process was painful. The committee's questions were very challenging. However, I learned so much from preparing and answering. My reading skill and writing skill get much better. I have a much better picture of my research, which also helps me prepare for my next step: dissertation proposal. I am thankful for the committee I have.
Now I can change my title from a doctoral student to a PhD candidate.