If you have questions, please contact CLAS Undergraduate Programs.
Policy Purpose and Description
CLAS Policy on Administration of Final Exams
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) expects all courses to include appropriate procedures for evaluating student performance. For many undergraduate courses, these procedures will include a final exam, a final paper or project, or some other cumulative activity appropriate to the discipline and to the course.
Final examinations, whether in an on-campus or an online course, must be given during the one-week period set aside by the University for this purpose; likewise, final examinations must be given at the time specified on the Registrar's Final Examination Schedule page.
However, please note the exception for off-cycle courses; in these courses that also end at the fall or spring "close of classes" date, final exams must be given during the last week of classes. (For more information, see the Off-Cycle Courses Offered Fall or Spring).
No exams or quizzes of any kind may be given during the last week of a course, including both on-campus or online courses. However, please note that this policy does not extend to labs even if the lab is graded and has components of a quiz associated with the lab experience.
All courses are assigned a final examination time within the final examination week.
Take-home final exams must use the specified final exam period as the last possible time that the take-home exam may be turned in.
In courses where papers or projects rather than a final examination constitute the last evaluation activity, instructors may use the scheduled final exam period as the due date for the project/paper.
Instructors also may use the final examination period to meet with students to discuss the papers/projects.
Information on the use of the final examination period and its duration should be told to students as soon as possible. Although final exams are not scheduled by the Registrar until around the fifth week of the semester, instructors should still put as much information about the final exam as possible in the syllabus, including its duration and a reminder to students not to plan travel until the exam date and time is announced.
Final Examination Schedule: Registrar Policies
Instructors administering final examinations are required to use the date, time, and location, if applicable, as assigned by the Office of the Registrar.
While examination periods are scheduled for a two-hour duration, the Office of the Registrar does not require instructors to use the full two-hour period. Students should be notified well in advance of the exam if the exam period will be shortened.
Students should be prepared to be on campus until the last exam period of final exam week.
For more information from the Registrar about final exams, visit the Exam Information.
Scheduling Adjustments for Individual Students
Instructors may make arrangements with individual students to take final examinations at times other than the regularly scheduled time if circumstances warrant.
Students who have two or more final exams/assessments scheduled for the same exam period or more than two final exams/assessments scheduled for the same exam day qualify to request a makeup final examination time from their instructors.
However, students are required to contact the instructors of the courses involved to register their intent to take advantage of this opportunity and must do so within two weeks (14 days) of being notified by the Office of the Registrar of their final examination week schedule. It is up to the instructors of the courses involved to work in cooperation with their students to schedule appropriate makeup final examination arrangements according to the makeup final examination scheduling policies.
Absence from Final Examinations
If a student is absent from a final examination, the instructor should report the student's grade in the course as I (Incomplete) if the other requirements and standards for assigning the Incomplete have otherwise been met. That is, the student must be in good standing in the course and must have only a small amount of work to complete.
If a student does not have a satisfactory excuse for missing a final examination, the instructor also is justified in assigning the grade earned by the student without the score from the exam included in this final grade. This option should be used very rarely.
If the student has an acceptable reason for being absent, the instructor should arrange to give the student a makeup examination during the student's next period in residence or earlier, if at all possible. If the student fails to take the makeup examination within this approved time limit, the grade of I (Incomplete) will automatically change to F.
Disruptions of Final Examinations
In the unlikely event that a final examination is disrupted by events other than construction noise (see Class Disruptions) such as by a fire alarm, electrical outage, tornado warning, or other unpredictable incident, instructors must make whatever immediate decision seems appropriate to insure the safety of students.
When possible, instructors should maintain examination security (for instance, by having students turn in examination papers as they leave the room). If the incident is of short duration, sufficient time may have elapsed (or remain) that the instructor may be able to simply shorten the examination.
The instructor should contact the DEO for help in creating an equitable solution to the grading problems that the disruption causes. In most cases, especially with large classes, it will not be possible to schedule a makeup examination. In situations where exam security has been maintained, some portion of credit may be allocated for the examination. In other cases, it may be appropriate to recalculate grades without including an examination grade.
Departments and instructors should strive to ensure that no student is unfairly penalized or favored by the policy adopted. The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education can also advise faculty and departments.
Scheduling Exams Outside of Class Time
Instructors must be particularly careful about scheduling examinations outside of class time, which may cause scheduling conflicts for many students. The Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education developed with representatives from all of the undergraduate colleges the following University examination policies:
When instructors plan to give exams outside of class time, they should announce the dates and times at the first class meeting and list them on the course syllabus for distribution at the first class meeting.
When there is conflict between an exam scheduled outside of class time and a regularly scheduled course, the regularly scheduled course will take precedence.
During fall semester, when there is a conflict between two exams scheduled outside the regular class times, the course having the lower department number (or letter), or lower course number when the conflict is within the department will take precedence. During spring semester and summer session, when there is a conflict between two exams scheduled outside the regular class times, the course having the higher number (or letter), or higher course number when the conflict is within the department, will take precedence.
When there is a conflict between an exam scheduled outside of class time and other scheduled and required course activities (e.g. performances, meetings, lectures), the required course activity will take precedence.
When there is a conflict between an exam scheduled outside of class time and other scheduled, non-required course activities or personal obligations, the exam will take precedence. However, exams not scheduled and announced in class at least 14 days in advance will not have priority under this policy.
Instructors must offer reasonable options without penalty to students who miss exams due to conflicts described above.
Note: The College will not authorize the scheduling of examinations on Saturdays or Sundays (except in courses that are regularly scheduled to meet on Saturdays or Sundays).
Make-up Examinations Policy
University policy requires that students be permitted to make up examinations missed due to illness; religious holy days; military service obligations, including service-related medical appointments; other unavoidable circumstances; and University-sponsored activities (Operations Manual, IV-8.1). Instructors must offer reasonable options without penalty to students who have missed examinations for legitimate reasons.
It is the student's responsibility to contact the instructor as soon as possible about the reasons for a missed exam and, if the instructor so wishes, to provide appropriate documentation.
Make-up examinations should be scheduled at a reasonable time and location. The make-up examination, if different, should be equivalent to the original in form, content, difficulty, and time limits, and the standards for scoring and grading should be equivalent to those used for the original examination.
Test Modifications for Students with Disabilities
The Office of Student Disability Services (3015 Burge Hall, 335-1462), can help instructors arrange appropriate modifications for students with disabilities while protecting academic standards. Staff members are specifically trained and have access to the confidential information needed to make determinations of the appropriateness of testing modifications; they have experience in determining specific classroom modifications and can suggest approaches that have proved to be fair and equitable. For more information, see the Guidelines for Instructors.
See Accommodating Students with Disabilities for more information about students with disabilities.
Construction Noise During an Exam
The policy of the University's Operations and Maintenance office is to stop construction immediately when the work disturbs an examination in progress. The instructor in charge of an examination should promptly report such problems to Operations and Maintenance (335-5071) or to the construction workers, asking them to contact their supervisor.
See Class Disruptions for information on other disruptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Suggested Best Practices
It is vital to make sure exams are administered fairly, with the following best practices recommended by faculty. Departments may want to review this list and choose options that will work for its students and instructors.
Check student IDs when they enter the classroom and check them off a class list or ask students to sign the list as the ID card is checked.
Make sure to give each student only one scantron form and to collect only one from each student.
Create multiple forms of one exam; some instructors use up to five different formats. Use different questions or the same questions scrambled. Warn students that the exams differ and that misconduct will be apparent when the exam is graded.
Use assigned seating so friends do not sit together. This can be done formally in larger lecture rooms by creating labels with corresponding seat numbers from the room and by placing a label on each exam, handing out the exams randomly. (For smaller classes, this can be done informally by directing students to one side of the room or the other.) Some instructors require students to sit in alternate rows, if possible, with each row receiving different versions of the exam.
Tell students about the CLAS Code of Academic Honesty and remind them about the importance of academic integrity and the consequences of misconduct.
Include a pledge on your exam that the students sign. Here is a sample statement: “I do my own work and I do not cheat. I understand that cheating hurts other students and that it diminishes my own learning.”
Use Turnitin for any written work, including take-home exams (available as a feature on the ICON dropbox from Canvas) and tell students how Turnitin works.
Make sure all backpacks are closed and that laptops, phones, books, notebooks, papers, or other informational sources are left in the backpack under the desk or in the front of the room. This removes the temptation of looking at a cell phone. Tell students that if their phones or other device are visible, this will be counted as cheating. Many instructors also forbid translators and calculators, a policy which the College endorses since students should know or learn the vocabulary used in your class (unless related SDS accommodations apply).
Announce that students must remain in the room until they turn in their examinations. Permission to leave the room is granted by the instructor only in emergencies.
Proctor the exam by walking up and down the rows; the room should never be left unattended. Each proctor should oversee no more than 50-75 students.
Stop cheating as soon as it is seen; move the student to a new location, noting the student’s name and where the student was in the exam when the misconduct occurred. When the exam is graded, review this exam carefully.
Collect all copies of the exam when students are done, putting them in a large envelope, thus helping to ensure the exams are not taken or lost.
Use different exams if students take the exam on different days or at different times.
Be sure to report academic misconduct by using the online reporting form. The College tracks students who commit academic misconduct, even if the student moves to another UI undergraduate college.