Hmm.. A close friend who is doing PHD in operations management in one of the top universities, keeps telling me he does not have time for me, due to this "comprehensive exam" coming up soon. Well, we are almost dating, but looks like this exam is a big deal to him. Is it that hard that he does not have any time for me or anything else?
I'm doing my comps year Jan, so I can only tell you how I think the situation will be like for me. I've a wife and daughter, so I will not neglect them just for my comps (not that I can do that even if I want to....) Having said that, my wife understands how important the comps is for us
- a make or break... Also, I'm not sure if this is a case for your friend but I would still be doing some other coursework in the semester leading up to the comps.
So given the significance of the exams, and the resources available nearing the exams, I would need to be very focused. I would try to have dinner together, go to church on Sunday, and maybe spend a few hours on Sat to go out etc. But other than that, most of the time would be to prepare for the exams.
Anyway, in short, yes, the comp is a big deal for most PhD students (although the research is even a bigger deal....)