Kiturgy informs us that the General Ordination Examination (taken by all seminary seniors) begins today. We are asked to "please keep all of us who are taking them, along with those who will be proctoring and supporting us, in your prayers!"
My memory of GOEs is that the horror stories I heard before were much worse than the actual experience. For most of the sections, the most important thing was knowing which reference work to use, and have it close at hand, so you didn't waste time researching. The "coffee hour questions" were a bit trickier, as no amount of research can help when the situation calls for a pastoral response.
I do recall, at some point during that week, climbing upstairs from my study in the basement, noticing that it was getting dark, and honestly not knowing if the sun was coming up or going down.
Here is the 2001 exam. Questions from other years, and an excellent list of resources, can be found here.
In some dioceses, all postulants and candidates for holy orders are required to pass all 7 of the areas. Other dioceses don't even consider GOEs as criteria for deciding if one is fit to be ordained. There appears to be no consistency from one diocese to another as to the weight these exams are given. I find that troubling.
But I also find it troubling that one might relocate to seminary, invest 2 and a half years in the process, and then be "weeded out" by a national exam. Since every bishop is given "quarterly reports" regarding the progress of their seminarians, one would think that if there is a problem, it would have surfaced some time before their senior year.
Keep those who are taking these exams, and those who will be reading them, in your prayers.