Quizzes, Hour, and Midterm Exams

On-campus and distance 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.

Exams in Courses with an Online Option

Many distance education courses have exams, which may be take-home, online, in-class, 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 (for open book exams) or with Proctorio (for remotely administered exams), or in limited cases, using 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 online exams. Paper exams will not be administered in lieu of the online exam except for accommodations approved by the Accessibility Services Office.

Proctored Exams

Online courses may have on-campus classroom exams. Students unable to come to campus for exams can make arrangements to take their exam in absentia in a proctored setting, at an alternative location. The procedures for securing a qualified proctor are outlined below.

Finding a Qualified Proctor

Students are responsible for finding a qualified proctor to administer each exam. The proctor must be a teacher, professor, librarian, or administrator in a nearby secondary school, college, university, or testing center. Tutoring and test preparation centers such as Sylvan Learning CentersHuntington Learning Centers, and the Consortium of College Testing Centers, are also acceptable. Proctors cannot be family members, friends, acquaintances, or coworkers.

For assistance finding a proctor, students can contact a guidance counselor, an academic advisor, the Dean of Students, or the registrar's office at a nearby college, university, or high school.

Proctors must have an institutional email address, reliable access to the internet, the ability to download and print PDF documents, and access to a fax machine or scanner (to return completed exam materials to the Summer School). Proctors may charge fees for their services. Any fees incurred are the student's responsibility.

Students must submit a proctor request via MyDCE at least five to seven days before each on-campus exam.

Submitting the Proctored Exam Request

Proctor exam requests are not accepted via phone or email. To submit proctor information, students should log in to MyDCE with their HarvardKey. Once logged in, they should select "Distance Education" then "Distance Education Exam Proctor Information." Students will be directed to a page where they can submit proctor requests for individual exams. The exam's 24-hour testing window will also be listed. Students should be aware that submitting false or inaccurate proctor information may result in referral to the Administrative Board for review.

If an exam is not shown on the page, the instructor has not yet submitted test information. Check back again as the exam date gets closer or contact Academic Services if the exam is less than a week away.

Students that do not submit a proctored exam request or submit it late may forfeit the opportunity to take the exam. These students are subject to their instructor's make-up policies for midterm exams and Summer School make-up policies for final exams.

Students and proctors receive an email confirmation upon receipt of proctor information. If confirmation is not received within 24 hours, students should send an email to distance_exams@extension.harvard.edu for assistance.

Proctored Exam Approval and Procedures

Proctored exam requests are reviewed about one week before the exam date. Once approved, students and proctors receive a second email with detailed instructions about exam policies and procedures. The exam materials will be available to proctors via a password-protected, secure website for the 24-hour testing window.

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 three hours long and are administered according to the exam schedule set by the registrar. 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 make-up final 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 cannot submit a take-home exam by the deadline should contact 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 policies. If it is the instructor's policy to grant extension of time, the student should use the extension of time form to request more time to submit their new take-home exam.

Make-Up Final Exams

Students who cannot take their timed in-classroom final exams, proctored distance final exams or timed online final exams as scheduled because of compelling and extenuating circumstances may be eligible to 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 final exam.

Make-up final exam appeals are considered only for students who owe no other work in the course than the final exam, have good records of attendance and participation, and are in good academic and financial standing with the Division of Continuing Education. Academic Services contacts instructors to verify students' academic standing as part of the appeals process.

Supporting documentation must accompany an appeal. At least one piece of documentation is required for medical circumstances and at least two pieces of documentation are required for all other circumstances. Documentation must be on letterhead paper, be written in English, be signed by the appropriate person in an official capacity, confirm the reason for missing the exam and, if relevant, include travel information. Medical documentation must be in the form of a letter that describes the illness, specific dates of the illness, and the functional limitations that affected the student’s ability to take the final exam as scheduled.

Students may appeal for a make-up final exam by submitting the make-up final exam appeal form within three calendar days of a missed exam. Incomplete and late appeals will not be considered.

The Make-up Examination Committee will begin to review appeals for the summer 2020 term on July 22. Students will be notified of decisions by email. Make-up final exams for all Harvard Summer School sessions are administered for local students at 51 Brattle Street on Saturday, August 22, 2020. Online, distance and absentia exams are administered on Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Students who do not take a make-up final exam as scheduled are assigned a failing grade for the exam.

Make-Up Final Exams in Absentia

Students who are not located near Cambridge and are unable to attend the on-campus make-up final exams on August 22 can request to take make-up final exams in absentia. Absentia exams are administered on August 19. Students that take final exams in absentia are required to secure a qualified proctor at an approved institution.

In addition to following the appeal procedures for make-up final exams, students must identify the name, title, business email address, business telephone number, and business address of a qualified proctor available to administer an exam on August 19. Exam proctors must be instructors or administrators at a school, college, university, or educational testing center. They cannot be family members, friends, acquaintances, or coworkers. See instructions above for securing a qualified proctor.

Students approved to take an exam-in-absentia must take their exams on Wednesday, August 19.

Exam Absences for Religious Reasons

A student may request that an exam be rescheduled without penalty if the exam is scheduled on a day of religious observance for the student. Students should speak with their 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 exam appeal form to Academic Services within three calendar days of the exam. 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 the exam. Exams are rescheduled for August 19 (for distance and in absentia students) and August 22 (for local students). Students who also have religious conflicts with the scheduled make-up date should indicate this in their appeal statement.

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 should 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.

Additional Information

For more information, email distance_exams@extension.harvard.edu anytime, or call (617) 495-0977, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm eastern time.