Hour and Midterm Examinations

The administration of hour and midterm examinations is the responsibility of the instructor; these exams should normally be scheduled during regular class meeting times. In cases where hour and midterm examinations must be given outside regular class meeting times, the course head must offer a makeup examination for documented academic conflicts. The FAS Registrar's Office has no role in the administration of hour or midterm examinations. Instructional staff is responsible for administering Accessible Education Office-approved accommodations, in consultation with AEO staff.

Instructors are required by law to offer makeup examinations to students who are absent from hour and midterm examinations for the observance of a religious holiday. Instructors are not required to offer makeup examinations to students who are absent from hour and midterm examinations for other reasons.

In cases other than absence for a religious holiday, if an instructor is satisfied that the absence is necessary and that omitting a grade for the missed hour or midterm examination will not affect the student’s course grade, final evaluation of the student’s work in the course may be determined from the remainder of the course work. The instructor may also elect to give a makeup examination. The responsibility for such decisions rests with the instructor only and not with the Dean’s Office or the Administrative Board. Instructors may also decide whether to require the attendance of graduate students at hour and midterm examinations.

Although instructors are obligated to offer makeup examinations only in the case of absence for the observance of a religious holiday, students who have obtained proper Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) documentation of illness may not be penalized for their absence from hour and midterm examinations. The appropriate form must be signed by a HUHS medical professional and given to the student’s Resident Dean who will write the student a letter acknowledging receipt of the HUHS form. This letter may be presented to the instructor as certification of the student’s illness.

Examination Booklets

Examination booklets for hour or midterm examinations may be obtained from the Science Center Mail Room (617-495-5347), Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Course instructional staff can also contact the Exams Office (exams@fas.harvard.edu) to obtain examination booklets. A Harvard officer or faculty identification card must be shown to receive them.

Athletic Events

The Department of Athletics is aware that midterm examinations are frequently given in the seventh or eighth weeks of the term, and thereby schedules few athletic contests away from Cambridge during that time. Sometimes the academic calendars of other institutions require contests to be scheduled in these periods. However, absence from academic exercises in order to represent the College in athletic activities does not relieve the student from responsibility for any part of the work required in the course during the period of the absence.

Absences for Religious Holidays

A student who is absent from an hour or midterm examination as a consequence of his or her religious belief “shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination...” (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 151C, Sec. 2B). It is therefore recommended that prior to setting the dates for such exercises or examinations course heads request dates of absence due to religious holiday observance from students in their classes. It is the responsibility of the students concerned to provide that information promptly when so requested. If conflicts are unavoidable, students who are absent from hour or midterm examinations for religious reasons shall be offered an opportunity to make up the work, without penalty, unless it can be demonstrated that such an opportunity would constitute an “unreasonable burden” on the faculty. Information on religious holidays can be found on the Harvard Divinity School's Multifaith Calendar.