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Types of Exams

Questions about exams should be directed to Academic Services at academicservices@extension.harvard.edu.

Quizzes, Hour, and Midterm Exams

Students are expected to take their exams on time and as scheduled by their instructors. Students who are unable to take a quiz, hour exam, or midterm due to extenuating circumstances should contact their instructor immediately. Instructors have varying policies regarding make-up quizzes, hour, and midterm exams.

Final Exams

A final exam, paper, or project is required in all courses. Seminars and workshops in which students are evaluated on the basis of reports and ongoing weekly assignments are the exceptions to this policy. Only registered undergraduate- and graduate-credit students are allowed to take final exams and submit final papers and projects.

Final exams are generally two hours long and usually administered on the last day of class. Your instructor will inform you of the format of the final exam in your course.

Instructors will confirm exam dates, times and locations before the exam period since it may be held in a different room from the class meetings. If you are unable to take your final exam at the scheduled time, you may not make separate arrangements with your instructor to take the final exam at an earlier or later time. Grades are not accepted for students who do this. If you cannot take your final exam at the scheduled time you may be eligible to appeal for a make-up final exam.

If you sit for your final exam and are unable to complete it for any reason you are assigned a failing grade (E), or zero, for the incomplete portion of the exam. You are not allowed to complete the final exam at another time or appeal for a final make-up exam. If you attend the final exam and do not submit a bluebook or exam sheet, you are assigned an E for the final exam. If you do not take your final exam and did not withdraw from the course by the withdrawal deadline you are assigned a failing grade for the final exam.

Final Take-Home Exams

Students who miss the deadline for a take-home exam should call their instructor immediately. The instructor may approve an extension-of-time (EXT) grade and write a new take-home exam, or assign the student a failing grade for the exam depending on the instructor’s policy for take-home exams.

Distance Education and Proctored Exams

The academic policies outlined in this section apply to distance education students as well. If you are taking an online course, also review the policies for distance education students, including proctored exam information.

Exams in Online Courses

Many distance education courses have exams, which may be take-home, online, or proctored exams. Instructors will inform students of the format of course exams.

Online Exams

An online exam is a timed exam that is taken on a specific date and within a specific 24-hour period. Instructors may elect to administer exams online via Canvas, Proctorio, or a third -party testing tool. Students should refer to the syllabus or contact course staff members with any questions about online exams. Students enrolled in online courses are expected to have the necessary computer systems (hardware and software) and internet access to take exams online. Paper exams will not be administered in lieu of the online exam except for accommodations approved by the Accessibility Services office.

Students with extenuating  exam proctoring concerns should contact distance_exams@extension.harvard.edu to discuss their situation and for additional guidance.

Getting Help

Need more help? For more information, email Academic Services at academicservices@extension.harvard.edu.

Exam Absences, Conflicts, and Make-ups

Make-Up Final Exams

Students who cannot take their final exams as scheduled because of a religious conflict, documented serious illness, or compelling, unexpected circumstances may appeal for a make-up final exam. Students who begin a final exam but do not complete it for any reason, including illness, are not eligible to appeal for a make-up exam.

Make Up Exam Eligibility

Make-up appeals are considered only for students who:

  • Provide documentation of a compelling reason for missing the exam
  • Owe no other work in the course than the final exam and are eligible to pass the class (minus the final exam)
  • Have met course requirements for attendance and participation
  • Are in good financial standing with the Division of Continuing Education.

Appeals staff will contact instructors to verify students’ academic standing in courses for which they’ve applied for make-up exams as part of the appeals process.

The Make Up exam committee makes every effort to be accommodating when there is a documented, extenuating, and direct conflict with a final exam. The following are examples that are not considered compelling reasons to grant a make up exam:

  • lack of preparation or limited time to study
  • Negligence or misinformation
  • Undocumented circumstances
  • Planned vacations and other events

Supporting Documentation

Supporting documentation must accompany the appeal. Two pieces of documentation are required, except in cases of personal illness. Documentation must be:

  • Written in English or submitted with official translation
  • Written on official letterhead or stationary (when possible)
  • Confirm the reason for missing the exam
  • Be signed by the appropriate person in an offiial capacity

Medical documentation should meet the requirements above and must be in the form of a letter and based on an exam or consultation within close proximity (2-5 days) of the missed exam. When applicable, the signed letter should include a description of the illness, specific dates or range of dates of the illness, and physical and functional limitations of the illness that prevented taking the exam as scheduled. Documentation written on prescription pads will not be accepted.

Documentation submitted as part of an appeal will become the property of Harvard DCE and will not be returned to the student. Documentation is only viewed by members of the committee during the review and members of the appeal staff during the processing of an appeal. Documentation will be securely destroyed within one calendar year of the appeal review.

Submitting Your Make Up Final Exam

Students may appeal for make-up exams by submitting a make-up final exam appeal no later than three calendar days after the missed exam. Incomplete and late appeals will not be considered.

Students can submit their Make Up appeal, including submission of documentation, through Online Services:

  • Login to Online Services
  • From the Main Menu, select the “Make-up Final Exam Appeal Form”
  • Review the instructions on the first page, then select “Next Page” to continue to the form.
  • Complete the form to the best of your ability:
    • Enter the course information. Course information can be found in your academic schedule in the MyDCE student portal.
    • Select the credit status for which you have registered in the course
    • Select the original type of exam administered*
    • Type your appeal statement detailing the circumstances that caused the missed final exam.
    • Upload official documentation to support your Make Up appeal request**
  • Once all aspects of the form are complete and documentation is provided, select the confirmation of information in your appeal, then submit your appeal.

* Note: in the 2020-2021 Academic and Summer term, all courses that offer a final exam will be offered as Online Exams.

** Students are required to provide documentation with the exception of students who have already provided relevant documentation to the Accessibility and Student Services office. Students that do not provide documentation may find their appeal review is delayed as our appeal staff connects to request the required documentation for the appeal.

If you have trouble submitting your appeal or have questions that are not answered on this page, please contact the appeals staff in Academic Services at appeals@extension.harvard.edu for additional assistance.

Review and Scheduling of Make Up Final Exams

Appeals staff and committee will start to process and review Make Up appeals after the withdrawal deadline of each term and will review appeals on a rolling basis once the review period starts. Unfortunately, the appeal committee cannot guarantee appeal review and decision prior to the originally scheduled Final Exam.

Once appeals are reviewed a decision will be released via email – students should check their email to ensure they do not miss the decision.

If approved, make-up exams for courses that have an online final exam are administered on:

  • January 20, 2021 for fall courses
  • February 3, 2021 for January session courses
  • June 9, 2021 for spring courses.
  • Wednesday, August 18, 2021 for summer courses

A student who does not take the make-up exam as scheduled is assigned a failing grade for the exam.

Final Exams in Absentia

If you relocate before or during the final exam period you may appeal to take your exam in absentia at an institution in your new location with an approved proctor. In addition to following the appeal procedures for make-up exams, you must include on the appeal form the name, title, business address, business website, and business telephone number of the person who will proctor your exam.

Exam proctors must be teachers, professors, librarians, or administrators in local secondary schools, colleges, universities, or testing centers. They cannot be family members, friends and acquaintances, or co-workers. See “Exams in Online Courses” above to find a qualified Proctor.

Exam Conflicts

An exam conflict occurs when a student has two exams or a class meeting and an exam scheduled for the same day and time. If the conflict involves two exams, the student will take both exams on the same day: one with the class and the second exam at a different time that day as scheduled by Academic Services.

If an exam conflicts with a class meeting, the student will attend the class. Academic Services will reschedule the exam at a different time that same day.

Students should complete the exam conflict form and submit it to Academic Services no later than two weeks before the conflict date.

Absences for Religious Reasons

You may request that an exam be rescheduled without penalty if your exam is scheduled on a day of religious observance for you. Speak with your instructor no later than two weeks before the exam date to reschedule the exam.

Students who have a religious obligation that conflicts with a final exam must submit a completed make-up final examination form to Academic Services by the deadline indicated on the form. The make-up final exam appeal fee is waived for students with religious conflicts. However, students must include documentation from an appropriate religious or spiritual leader confirming the conflict with their appeal. Exams are rescheduled for the same day as the make-up exams in the same term. Students who also have religious conflicts with the scheduled make-up date should indicate this in their appeal statement. Accommodations are not possible if the conflict is reported after the exam.

Learn more about absences from class due to a religious conflict.