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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Rules Related to Prelims and Finals

General information on exams.

Afternoon and Evening Scheduling

Certain hours shall be free from all formal undergraduate class or laboratory exercises: 4:25 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; after 4:25 p.m. on Friday; after 12:05 p.m. on Saturday; and all day Sunday.

Review Sessions

Review sessions cannot be scheduled after 4:30 p.m. on any day unless an alternate session is made available for those with conflicts.

Preliminary Examinations

On Monday and Wednesday evenings only regularly scheduled courses and prelims previously approved by the Office of the University Faculty are permitted. Other evening academic activities commencing at or after 7:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays are not allowed. Violation of these rules interferes with other university activities (athletic, musical, theatrical, employment, etc.)

Evening examinations may be given on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after 7:30 p.m. Large courses (over 30) may schedule evening exams only with prior permission from the Office of the Dean of Faculty. No permission is required for examinations or make-up examinations involving small numbers of students (under 30) if given on Tuesday and Thursday.

Exceptions. Permission from the Office of the Dean of Faculty to schedule examinations on evenings other than Tuesdays or Thursdays or at a time prior to 7:30 p.m. will be granted only on the following conditions:

  • Conditions such as the nature of the examination, room availability, large number of conflicts, etc. justify such scheduling.
  • An alternate time to take the exam must be provided for those students who have academic, extracurricular or employment conflicts at the time scheduled. See also Disability Accommodation Procedure for Students.

If there is a conflict between an examination listed on the schedule developed at the annual evening prelim scheduling meeting and an examination not on the schedule, the examination on the schedule shall have priority. The course not on the schedule provide an alternate time to take the examination for those students faced with the conflict.

If a student has conflicting examination schedules, both of which are on the schedule developed at the annual evening prelim scheduling meeting or both of which are not on the schedule, the instructors of the courses involved must consult and agree on how to resolve the conflict. Both instructors must approach this resolution process with a willingness to provide an alternative or early examination.

Courses utilizing evening examinations should indicate this in the course description listed in Courses of Study, The Course and Time Roster, and The Course and Room Roster and must notify students of the dates of such examinations as early as possible in the semester, preferably when the course outline is distributed.

More information on prelims.

Final Examinations and Other End of Semester Exercises

Advances in pedagogy and variations in practice across fields have broadened the range of commonly used end of semester evaluative exercises beyond traditional sitown final examinations. The rules and guidelines that follow aim to protect students from unreasonable demands on their time while simultaneously providing instructors the flexibility necessary to design evaluative exercises appropriate to their courses.

The Academic Calendar sets aside, after the last week of classes, a four day study period followed by a period for final examinations. The Registrar’s Office assigns to every course a specific day and time during final examination period at which time the course’s final exam, if any, will take place. The designated final exam days and times are scheduled carefully to minimize conflicts and spread students’ workloads as evenly as possible over the exam period.

It is university policy to discourage more than two examinations for a student in one twenty four hour time period. Members of the faculty are urged to grant student requests for a make-up examination, particularly if their course is the largest of the three involved and thus has the strongest likelihood of offering a makeup for other valid reasons, e.g. a student’s illness or a death in a student’s family. See also Disability Accommodation Procedure for Students.

Legislation of the University Faculty (as last amended by the Faculty Senate on May 14, 2008) governing study period and examinations and other end of semester exercises is as follows:

  1. No final examinations can be given at a time other than the time appearing on the official examination schedule promulgated by the Registrar’s Office without prior written permission of the dean of the faculty.
  2. No permission will be given, for any reason, to schedule final examinations during the last week of classes or the designated study period preceding final examinations.
  3. Permission will be given by the dean of the faculty to reschedule examinations during the examination period itself if requested in writing by the faculty member, but only on condition that a comparable examination also be given for those students who wish to take it at the time that the examination was originally scheduled. The faculty member requesting such a change will be responsible for making appropriate arrangements for rooms or other facilities in which to give the examination.
  4. The final due date for a take home final examination can be no earlier than the date appearing on the official examination schedule promulgated by the Registrar’s Office without prior written permission of the dean of the faculty.
  5. A course that requires a culminating end of semester exercise (for example, a paper, project report, final critique, oral presentation, or conference( in lieu of or in addition to a traditional final examination, must advertise at the beginning of the semester the nature of the exercise.
  6. A course that requires a culminating end-of semester exercise and does not offer a final examination must allow students at least until the date appearing on the official examination schedule promulgated by the Registrar’s Office to complete submission of materials associated with the culminating exercise. (For example, a student making a presentation during the last week of classes or during study period will have at least until that scheduled final exam date to submit a final write up or equivalent.)

Return of Exams, Papers, etc.

Although there is no federal or state legislation that pertains to the manner in which graded work is to be returned to students, the returning of such materials should be handled in such a manner as will preserve the student’s privacy. Students have a right to examine their corrected exams, papers, and the like, in order to be able to question their grading. They do not, however, have an absolute right to the return thereof. Exams, papers, etc., as well as grading records, should be retained for a reasonable time after the end of the semester, preferably until the end of the following term, to afford students such right of review.

Due Date for Submitting Final Grades

Prompt submission of final grades is essential. Colleges set their own due dates for final grades independently each semester in consultation with the university registrar.

More information on Final Exams


Last Updated: August 20, 2017 at 6:31 pm