Final Examination Period

Examination Rules

Late Arrival to Examination

Illnesses During the Examination

Absence from Examinations

Absences for Religious Reasons

Makeups for Examinations: Excused Absences

Examinations in Absentia

Courses that will culminate in a seated final examination scheduled by the Registrar will hold their exams during the designated Final Examination Period. Examinations scheduled during the Final Examination Period are three hours in length. There are two exam sessions each day. Morning exams begin at 9 am and afternoon exams begin at 2 pm. The schedule indicating the exact date, time and location for each three-hour, seated exam is posted online within approximately three weeks of the start of each term. The posted schedule is subject to change.

To seek accommodations for a final exam on account of disabilities, undergraduates must direct their petition to the Accessible Education Office. The Accessible Education Office will work with the faculty member and the Exams Office to make arrangements for accommodations when appropriate and will contact the student directly about the accommodations. For more specific information about final exams please consult the website of the Accessible Education Office.

Students are responsible for learning the times and locations of exams in their courses and for arriving at their exams on time. Students who miss an exam and who are not granted a makeup exam will receive a permanent ABS (unexcused absence), which is equivalent in all respects to a failing grade.

Most instructors return examination booklets, papers, and other academic work to the students enrolled in their courses. By law, students have the right to review all materials submitted to a course, including final examination booklets, and for a reasonable charge may have copies of any originals not returned to them within 45 days of the date of the original request.

Examination Rules

Students should adhere to the following rules during the administration of regularly scheduled midyear or final examinations.

  • During bathroom breaks, students should not use computer terminals, telephones (land line or cellular), or other communications devices.
  • In order to avoid any possible suggestion of improper behavior during an examination, undergraduates should refrain from communication with other students while an exam is in progress.
  • Students should also not retain or refer to any books or papers during an examination except with the express permission of the instructor or teaching staff.
  • Eating and drinking are not permitted in any examination room.
  • Personal belongings should be put away and all cell phones, beepers, and pagers should be turned off.
  • In the event of a fire, students should take their personal belongings and their exam and booklets and meet in the location announced at the beginning of the exam. Students should not leave the exam site or the emergency meeting location with any exam materials, nor should they discuss the exam with other students during the emergency procedures. For violation of the examination rules or dishonesty in an examination a student may be required to withdraw from the College. Students who fail to obey instructions are liable to disciplinary action.

Late Arrival to Examination

A student who is late for an exam may be refused admission and reported as absent. Students who are late for a final exam should report directly to the exam room. No one will be admitted to an examination more than 30 minutes after the start of the exam. Ordinarily, latecomers will not be allowed to make up lost time.

Illnesses During the Examination

A student who is present for any part of an examination is never entitled to a makeup exam. Any student who becomes ill during an exam, however, should report the illness immediately to the instructor. An ill student will be sent to HUHS, where the student will be kept incommunicado until able to resume the examination. Upon resumption of the examination, the student will be allowed only the balance of time remaining.

Absence from Examinations

To obtain credit for a semester-long course having a final examination, a student must have attended the examination (or its equivalent approved makeup). To obtain credit for a year-long course having fall term and spring term examinations, a student must have attended both exams (or equivalent approved makeup). A student who is absent without excuse from the final examination (or the equivalent approved makeup) of a year-long course fails the entire course and receives no credit for either half of it.

Any student who has an unexcused absence at the fall term final exam in a year-long course must either petition to withdraw from the course without credit (no later than the seventh Monday of the spring term) or petition to be allowed to continue in it in the spring term for half credit only, in which case the failing grade of ABS is permanently recorded for the fall half of the course (see Continuing for the Second Term with an Unexcused Absence on Year-long Courses— Divisible and Indivisible).

A student may petition for a makeup examination because of illness only if the illness is documented by medical staff at HUHS within the 24-hour period before the beginning of the examination. In an emergency, a student’s illness could be reported to HUHS by a private physician, before the beginning of the examination. The private physician must also supply a written statement to HUHS.

Unavoidable absence from an examination resulting from causes other than illness should be reported and explained in advance to the appropriate Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen.

A student whose record is unsatisfactory because of an unexcused absence from a final or makeup examination ordinarily will be placed on probation or, if the record as a whole so warrants, required to withdraw (see Procedures of the Administrative Board).

Absences for Religious Reasons

As mentioned above regarding attendance and examinations, in accordance with Massachusetts law, students who are unable to participate in a final examination as a consequence of their religious beliefs shall be provided with an opportunity to make up the examination, without penalty, provided that the makeup examination does not create an unreasonable burden on the College. Students who anticipate any religious conflicts with exams are required to submit the Religious Out of Sequence Exam Request Form on the Registrar’s website, thirty days before the start of Exam Period. Conflicts reported after that time may not be possible to accommodate or may result in a makeup exam scheduled for the following term.

Makeups for Examinations: Excused Absences

The Administrative Board has jurisdiction over granting makeup examinations. No instructor may grant or give a makeup examination to any student who missed a final examination without the express authorization of the Registrar and the Administrative Board; nor may a makeup examination be given at any time or place other than that specified by the Registrar. A student granted a makeup exam is not thereby granted an extension of time to complete other written work for the course. Such an extension is granted only by special vote of the Administrative Board (see Extension of Time for Written or Laboratory Work).

Petitions for makeup exams are due in the office of the Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Freshman Dean’s Office as soon as possible and no later than one week after each examination. Students having a medical excuse will fill out the petition form at HUHS and take the form personally and directly to the Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen. Students wishing to be excused for other reasons should see their Assistant or Resident Dean.

A student whose petition for a makeup examination has been granted by the Administrative Board must take the makeup examination at the next regularly scheduled makeup period. Typically, the makeup period is the third week of the following term. No other opportunity to take the examination will be allowed. It is the student’s responsibility to learn exactly when and where the makeup examinations will be given.

The beginning dates for fall and spring term Makeup Examination Periods are listed in the Academic Calendar. The Registrar notifies students via email who have been granted permission to take one or more makeup exams. The email notification specifies the scheduled time and place of their makeup examination(s). If students do not receive an email notification about a makeup exam, it is their responsibility to obtain such information from the Registrar at least two weeks before the beginning of the makeup Examination Period.

Students who have been granted a makeup exam by the Administrative Board but have neither taken it nor canceled it in writing to the Registrar with a copy to the Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen at least one week in advance of the beginning of the Makeup Examination Period will ordinarily be admonished by the Administrative Board. Students who have missed a final exam and not been granted permission for a makeup will be given the failing grade of “Absent” (ABS) for the course and are thus eligible to be placed on probation or required to withdraw, depending on their academic record for the term.

Students granted makeup examinations and/or extensions of time beyond the end of the Examination Period in two or more courses will not be allowed to register for the next term except by special permission of the Administrative Board. Students granted a makeup examination are not eligible to receive the degree until after final grades have been reported for all of their courses.

Examinations in Absentia

In exceptional cases, students who cannot be in Cambridge at the time of a final or makeup examination may request permission from the Administrative Board to take the examination in absentia. Applications are available from the Registrar.

Petitions for in absentia exams from members of Harvard College athletic teams participating in tournament competitions and students who are either on leave or studying elsewhere for Harvard degree credit may be approved by the Registrar. Other requests require permission of the Administrative Board. Before petitioning to take an examination in absentia, students should consult their Allston Burr Assistant Dean or Resident Dean of Freshmen.

Students are responsible for any fees incurred in the administration of an in absentia examination, including proctoring fees, postage, and any extraordinary costs incurred in the delivery or administration thereof (room rentals, media rentals, etc.).