Final Exam Policy

Definition of Final Exams & Reading Day

In many courses, final examinations are an integral part of the learning and evaluative process. Some courses, by virtue of the structure, material, or style of presentation, do not require a final examination. The following policy in no way requires an instructor to administer a final examination.  

The term "final examination" as used above shall be defined as any examination of more than one-half hour's duration that is given in the terminal phase of a course. As defined, "final examinations" may be either comprehensive, covering the majority of the content of a course or limited to only a portion of the content of a course.  

No examinations of more than one-half hour's duration should be scheduled during the last five regularly scheduled class days of a semester, unless the class is “ARR” (Arranged). Final exams and make-up exams/quizzes/classes may not be scheduled on Reading Day.  

Reading Day is reserved for preparation for final exams and is scheduled after all the regular class lectures and before final exams. As a rule, Reading Day should not be used as a make-up day and activities should not be scheduled that conflict with students' ability to study for final exams.

Scheduling Final Exams

Final examinations in semester length courses at the University are to be given only during the scheduled final examination period in accordance with the official schedule of examinations published by the Registrar's Office.  

For the Fall and Spring semester, the Registrar’s Office will distribute the final exam schedule on the same day that the Schedule of Classes is published. The Academic Calendar will reflect final exam dates in advance.  

The Final Exam Schedule shall be systematically rotated to distribute the two-hour final exam periods equally from semester to semester. Additional time beyond the two-hour exam should not be allotted, as the assigned room may be immediately occupied by the next class exam. 

Large classes may be scheduled earlier in the rotation to allow sufficient time for grading by the published deadline. Six days shall be scheduled for final exams. Saturday and Sunday will be used as an exam day when necessary.  

Note: Faculty members who are unable to attend Saturday or Sunday exams due to religious observance may utilize all the normally available alternatives for planned absences, approved in advance by the appropriate department chair or dean (e.g., arrange for a substitute instructor, construct an alternate plan, etc.). Campuses are required, under existing New York State law (Education Law §224-a), to excuse, without penalty, individual students absent because of religious beliefs, and to provide equivalent opportunities for makeup examinations, study, or work requirements missed because of such absences. Faculty should work directly with students to accommodate absences for the conflicts above. 

The departmental exam schedule will be published after the mid-point of the semester.  

Final examinations for 8 Week 1 classes are to be held during the last two class days of the 8 Week 1 session, as listed on the Academic Calendar.  

Final examinations for 8 Week 2 classes are to be given during the scheduled final examination period in accordance with the official schedule of examinations published by the Registrar's Office.  

Final examinations for Summer and Winter classes should be held on the last regularly scheduled class meeting.

Alternative to Final Exam

While individual faculty members may choose not to give a final exam in a class (e.g., substituting a final paper assignment or presentation), they are not permitted to change the assigned date of a final exam.  

When assigning a paper or project instead of an exam, it is advisable to make the due date either on the scheduled exam date or by 5 p.m. on the last day of the final exam schedule. 

Approval to Change a Final Exam Time

Instructors who request to change their final exam time must do so in writing with the Registrar’s Office ([email protected]), who will work in conjunction with Deans, Department Chairs, and the Vice Provosts for Undergraduate and Graduate Education to make a determination on the request.  

Requests must be made at least four weeks in advance of the first day of final exams for the semester in which the exam is to be given. Approval to move a final exam within finals week may be granted in the event that there are exceptional circumstances and strong pedagogical reasons for the move.  

In addition, the request must demonstrate that it is in the best interest of the students. Otherwise, requests for changes are unlikely to be approved as they result in student conflicts with other scheduled exams and activities.  

The above regulations notwithstanding, the instructor in any course should always retain the freedom to reschedule a final examination for an individual student should such a student present a case of unquestionable hardship in their scheduled examinations (e.g., illness, death in the family or religious observance). Such rescheduling should, however, be done in the final examination period if at all possible. 

Three Final Exams in One Day

If a student has three examinations in one day as a result of a departmental exam or of the official rescheduling of an examination after the initial final examination schedule has been published, then that student has the right to be given a makeup exam for the departmental or rescheduled exam.  

The request for such an exam must be made in writing to the instructor in the appropriate course no later than two weeks before the last day of classes of the given semester. If possible, the makeup exam should be given within the final examination period. 

Retention of Exams

Each instructor should retain the final examination in their courses for one semester so those students wishing to see their final examination may do so. This requirement does not apply in those instances in which the instructor chooses to return the examination to the students at the end of the course. 

Weather-related and/or Emergency Closing During Finals Week

In the event of cancellations or delays during an exam day, alternate exam times may be scheduled and will be communicated to the campus. Options the campus will consider will include, but are not limited to:  

Delay: On the day of a delayed opening, final exams scheduled to begin prior to the opening time will be rescheduled to Saturday or Sunday (if not scheduled as an exam day) or the day immediately following the last scheduled exam day, whichever comes first.  

Closings: Final exams scheduled when the University closes for any reason will be rescheduled to the following Saturday or Sunday (if not scheduled as an exam day) or the day immediately following the last scheduled exam day, whichever comes first.  

Emergency-related announcements involving cancellations or exam delays on all campuses will be communicated via UAlbany Alert

Additional Information

Final exams for different courses may be scheduled together at the same time/location by the Registrar’s Office, if necessary, to maximize room utilization. 

Candidates for graduation who have a final examination scheduled during their college commencement recognition ceremony shall be given the option of rescheduling that exam. Faculty may verify the date and time of college commencement ceremonies on the UA Commencement Weekend website. 

If an instructor does not plan to administer an exam during their scheduled final exam time, they are encouraged to notify the Registrar’s Office by October 1 for Fall classes and March 1 for Spring classes so space can be adequately reallocated. 

Class Modalities

In-person Classes

Final examinations in semester length courses must be held during the scheduled two-hour final examination period in accordance with the Final Exam Schedule, as published by the Registrar’s Office.  

Examinations are scheduled in the same room the class meets, with the exception of departmental examinations and special assignments requested by the instructor of the class. 

Additional time beyond the two-hour exam should not be allotted, as the assigned room may be immediately occupied by the next class exam.  

If the instructor of an in-person class wishes to give an online final examination, it should be noted on the Schedule of Classes so that students are aware when they register for the class. 

Arranged (ARR) In-person Classes

Classes that have meeting times of “ARR” should administer final exams during the last class. For guidance on Fully Online and Hybrid, see below. 

Fully Online Classes (Fall & Spring)
  • Fully online class finals can be given anytime during finals week.  

    • Final exams for online classes cannot be given on the last scheduled class day. 

    • All class finals must be completed by 5 p.m. on the last day of the final exam week for semester length classes. 

    • Instructors should establish a predetermined window (minimum 24 hours) during finals week for students to take the final exam. Instructors of fully online classes are required to specify in the syllabus when — during the official final exam period — they will hold their final exam or by what date and time students are required to submit their summative assessment. 
       

  • Fully online final exams may be impacted by emergency University closings. 
     

  • Online classes with in-person final exams: The final exam or end-of-course exam must be scheduled by the last day of the final examination week and must be indicated in the Schedule of Classes at the point of registration. The date must also be listed in the course syllabus. Arrangements should be made, in advance, with the Registrar’s Office to secure space for the final exam. 
     

  • Fully online final exams for mini session classes must be completed by 5 p.m. on the last class day of the mini session. 

Fully Online Classes (Winter & Summer)

Final examinations for Summer and Winter classes must be held on the last regularly scheduled class.

Hybrid Classes (Fall & Spring)

In-class final exams will be scheduled according to the final exam schedule. 

In order to avoid room conflicts, the Registrar’s Office will contact all faculty teaching hybrid classes to determine whether they will be holding an in-person exam and make any necessary room reservations. 

Hybrid Classes (Winter & Summer)

Final examinations for Summer and Winter classes are to be held on the last regularly scheduled class day. 

In order to avoid room conflicts, the Registrar’s office will contact all faculty teaching hybrid classes to determine whether they will be holding an in-person exam and make any necessary room reservations. 

Final Exam Guidance

Preparing Students

Ensure that students have ample notice and clear instructions related to your exam(s). 

Inform them of exam settings and policies — such as whether the test is timed, possible penalties for working after time expires, how many attempts they have, whether questions will be automatically or manually graded, etc. 

Communicate in advance how you will address exam schedule conflicts, and how students should contact you in the event they experience technical interruptions during test-taking (especially if you are not available). This is to ensure that if issues arise, you can handle them swiftly and fairly. 

Review ITLAL’s guidance for communicating with students about managing technical problems with online tests and exams

Online Assessments

Requiring some final assessment and evaluation of student learning is important, but exams aren’t the only option for this. Depending on your class size, you might choose to have students complete an alternative assessment to demonstrate their learning in your course.  

If you do choose to give online exams, please be advised that some students may treat these assessments as open-book. The most effective test questions will require students to do higher-order thinking that demonstrates their ability to apply the learning they have done in your course.  

We encourage you to seek support from ITLAL and ITS early in the semester. 

Academic Integrity

Encouraging academic integrity begins before the final exam period, and there are small strategies you can put into place as you finalize the design of your course that can mitigate student cheating.  

Review ITLAL’s guidance on teaching practices that can minimize the likelihood of student cheating

Take advantage of the tools and settings in Blackboard that can help minimize students’ opportunities to cheat on exams.  

Consult with the EdTech team and refer to Best Practices for Online Tests in Blackboard

Instructors also have access to Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitor