Final Examinations & Assessments

This page addresses declaring final assessments, final assessment due dates, Honor Code affirmations, final exam logistics, photocopyingfinal exam accommodations, religious conflicts with final exams, makeup final examsgrading final exams and returning final exams

Declaring Final Assessments

Final exams are no longer required for all courses.  At the beginning of each term, course heads are asked to declare a final assessment for each course they teach, indicating if there will be a one-hour exam, a three-hour exam, a final paper, a take-home exam, or no assessment for the course. 

Final Assessment Due Dates

Faculty legislation mandates that final papers, take-home exams, projects, presentations and other culminating course assignments due after the end of regular classes must be due on or before the day of each course’s assigned Exam/Final Deadline, but no earlier than the fourth day of Reading Period.   Final projects that include individual or group presentations may be scheduled beginning on the fourth day of Reading Period, and may extend through the Final Examination and Project Period

Honor Code Affirmations

At seated final exams, all students will be asked to read and sign a statement affirming their awareness of the Honor Code.  Faculty will be provided with attendance slips that include the affirmation in their exam packets ("I affirm my awareness of the standards of the Harvard College Honor Code.").  Faculty will be asked to distribute these slips with the exams and will ask students to sign the affirmation before starting the exam.  Students will turn in the slips before starting the exam.  Faculty may also have the option of including the affirmation on the printed exam and asking students to sign the affirmation directly there.  Faculty may also ask students to hand write the affirmation and sign it directly on their blue book.  See a sample attendance slip.

For final papers and projects, take-home and in-class final exams, and on senior theses, faculty are asked to request that students include an affirmation statement at the time of submission.  The following text is recommended: “I affirm my awareness of the standards of the Harvard College Honor Code.”   Faculty are welcome to edit this statement or to develop their own affirmation.

Final Exam Logistics

Only those courses that officially request a Registrar-scheduled final exam will be included in the final exam schedule.  If a three-hour Registrar scheduled exam is selected, the course will be added to the final exam schedule and a classroom will be booked by the Classrooms Office.  The final exam schedule will be posted in mid-September and mid-February.

All members of the teaching staff, including the course head, are expected to be available to proctor the final exam.

For those requesting a final exam, the Registrar’s Exams Office will create a packet and send it to the course head’s university mailing address as the final exam period approaches (approximately 2 weeks prior).  The exam packet contains the course roster, attendance slips, a restroom form, an incident form, and a page of directions and announcements to be read to the students at the exam.   It also includes an Honor Code affirmation slip that all students should sign.  Bluebooks will be sent to each academic department office, as determined by the per-student number of bluebooks each course head requests when filling out the Exam Request Form.  Extra blue books are available at the FAS Registrar’s Office, on the fourth floor of the Smith Center.  If you need any, please e-mail with the number of blue books you need and when you wish to pick them up, so they can have your materials ready when you come by the Registrar’s Office.


Teaching staff are welcome to photocopy exams themselves using the copiers in the Gen Ed Office during regular business hours.  The Gen Ed Office has two photocopiers available for teaching staff use.  The office is open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm, and demand is often heavy in the morning hours, so teaching staff should plan accordingly.  The Gen Ed Office does not have funding to reimburse you for copies made elsewhere.  We recommend that you do not entrust any exam to a commercial establishment for photocopying because there is no way to ensure that undergraduates using or working in the shop will not have access to the exam.

Final Exam Accommodations

All final examinations for students with exam accommodations approved by the Accessible Education Office (AEO) are administered during the final exam period by the Exams Office and the appropriate accommodations will be made in conjunction with AEO.  The course Head is urged to contact AEO if there are any questions about this process.  See AEO's Exam Information to learn more.

Religious Conflicts with Final Exams

In accordance with Massachusetts law, students who are unable to participate in a final examination as a consequence of their religious beliefs shall be provided with an opportunity to make up the examination, without penalty, provided that the makeup examination does not create an unreasonable burden on the College. Students are expected to anticipate any religious conflicts with exams and report the conflict using the Religious Out of Sequence Exam Request Form found on the Exams page of the FAS Registrar’s Office website thirty days prior to the start of the Exam Period. Please direct any questions to the Registrar’s Office at

Makeup Final Exams

The Administrative Board of Harvard College (i.e., Ad Board) grants permission for a makeup exam to students unable to take the final exam because of medically documented illness or extraordinary circumstances over which the student has no control.  Students who become ill while taking the exam may go to University Health Services (UHS) at Smith Campus Center.

If the Ad Board approves a makeup exam for one or more students in a course, the course head must prepare a new exam, which ordinarily should not duplicate the content of the original final exam.  Makeup exams are taken during a specific week the following term.  Makeup exams must be graded and the final course grade submitted to the Registrar’s Office within eight days after the makeup exam is given, or sooner in the case of an impending degree candidate.  An informal makeup exam or any other substitution for the final exam is not permitted.  For further information, consult the Registrar’s Exams Office (, 617-495-1542).

Grading Final Exams

The teaching staff should make a concerted effort to develop consistent grading standards and to provide clear, effective feedback.   Teaching staff should write any grades, scores, or comments on the inside of exam booklets rather than the cover to ensure student privacy.  To ensure confidentiality, grades should never be given out over the phone or by e-mail.

Returning Final Exams

Final examinations for fall term courses may be returned to students at the beginning of the spring term.  Staff teaching in the spring term may prefer to return exam booklets before the end of exam period (but only after grades have been submitted), because only seniors are allowed to remain on campus after the end of final exams.  Otherwise, teaching staff may inform students when and where exam booklets will be available in the fall.  The Gen Ed Office, however, cannot return exams or papers to students.  Due to the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of students’ grades, the teaching staff should never leave exam booklets unattended, and exam booklets should never be returned to roommates or friends without prior written permission from the student.  Any exam booklets and papers that have not been returned to students should be collected from the teaching staff and retained in a secure location on campus (typically the course head’s office) until the end of the following academic term.