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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 sit-down 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 day of classes a study period followed by a period for final examinations. Shortly before the start of each semester, the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) will ask faculty members who plan to administer traditional or take-home final examinations to notify OUR. Shortly thereafter, OUR will assign an exam slot to every course that has requested one. Courses administering traditional final examinations will be expected to administer their exams during their assigned time slots. Courses administering take-home final examinations will be expected to make their exams due no earlier than the end of their assigned time slot. See below for details.

While the designated final-exam slots are scheduled carefully to minimize conflicts and spread students’ workloads as evenly as possible over the exam period, conflicts and unduly crowded exam schedules for individual students inevitably arise. Faculty members are urged to accommodate students’ requests for alternative exam times or make-up examinations when students’ exam schedules are sufficiently congested to warrant such accommodation. For example, a student facing a direct conflict or three or more examinations during one twenty-four hour time period merits such accommodation.

See also Disability Accommodation Procedure for Students.

Legislation of the University Faculty governing study period and final examinations and other end-of-semester exercises is as follows:

  1. No traditional final examination may be administered at a time other than the time assigned by the OUR without prior written permission of the Dean of the Faculty.
  2. No permission will be given, for any reason, to schedule a traditional final examination or have a take-home final examination
    due during the last seven days of classes or the study period preceding final examinations.
  3. The Dean of the Faculty may grant permission to reschedule a traditional final examination during the examination period if
    a faculty member so requests, but only on condition that students have the option to take a comparable
    examination at the time 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 administer the examination.
  4. The due date for a take-home final examination may be no earlier than the end of the time slot designated by the OUR
    without prior written permission of the Dean of the Faculty.
  5. A course that requires a culminating end-of-semester exercise other than an examination —for example, a paper, project report, final critique, oral presentation, or conference — in lieu of or in addition to a traditional or take-home final examination must advertise before the semester begins, for example in the online course syllabus, the timing and nature of the exercise.

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: November 16, 2017 at 6:37 am