Final Examinations

Final examinations will be held at the end of all courses unless the Registrar, acting on behalf of the Dean of Harvard College, has approved an exam substitution such as a project or major paper. Substitutions are always due no later than the last day of Reading Period. In courses that run throughout the year, final exams will be held at the end of both the fall and spring terms.

The Registrar schedules and administers all final examinations scheduled during the Midyear and Final Examination Period. They are three hours in length. There are two exam sessions each day. Morning exams begin at 9:15 am and afternoon exams begin at 2:00 pm. Official dates and times for exams are published on the Final Examination Schedule which is available at near the beginning of each Reading Period. This schedule is subject to change as required.

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.

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 the instructions of an examination proctor 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. The Registrar has been given full authority to make the decision regarding late entry into an exam room. Students who are late for a final exam should report directly to the exam room up to the hours of 9:45 am for a morning examination or 2:30 pm for an afternoon examination. After that time they should report to the Exams Office in the Science Center, Room 112. If the student is allowed entry to the examination, no penalty will ensue for the time spent in the Exams Office. No one will be admitted to an examination if any student has already left the examination room. 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 proctor. The proctor will have the student escorted to HUHS, where the student will be kept incommunicado until able to resume the examination. Upon resumption, the student will be allowed only the balance of time remaining.

Absence from Examinations

To obtain credit for a half-course having a final examination, a student must have attended the examination (or its equivalent approved makeup). To obtain credit for a full 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 full 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 full 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-course credit only, in which case the failing grade of ABS is permanently recorded for the fall half of the course (see Withdrawing from Courses Without Credit and Full 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. Students may choose, however, to take the exam while at Stillman Infirmary. This is acceptable under certain circumstances. 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 Resident Dean.
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

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 are expected to anticipate any religious conflicts with exams and report the conflict in writing to the Exams Office at by the last day of classes each 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 Resident Dean 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 Resident Dean. Students wishing to be excused for other reasons should see their 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.

A student who has been granted a makeup exam by the Administrative Board but has neither taken it nor canceled it in writing to the Registrar with a copy to the Resident Dean at least one week in advance of the beginning of the Makeup Examination Period will ordinarily be admonished by the Administrative Board. A student who has 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 is thus eligible to be placed on probation or required to withdraw, depending on his or her 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. A student granted a makeup examination is not eligible to receive the degree until after final grades have been reported for all of his or her 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 Allston Burr Resident Dean, the Resident Dean of Freshmen, and the Registrar, and are due to the Registrar no later than the last day of classes.

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 Resident Dean.

Students are responsible for any fees incurred in the administration of an in absentia examination, including proctoring fees, return postage, and any extraordinary costs incurred in the delivery or administration (room rentals, media rentals, etc.). The University’s in absentia examination fee of $100 does not include the costs listed above. The University’s fee is waived only for students who are studying abroad for Harvard degree credit with prior approval of the Faculty Committee on Education Abroad in institutions where the academic schedule conflicts with the Harvard Examination Period or for certain University-sponsored intercollegiate athletic events.