IV. Examinations


A. General Examination Policy

All examinations must be taken and, when completed, electronically submitted via Exam4 on the dates and at the times designated on the official exam schedule published by the Office of the Registrar.   Exceptions to this schedule are made only in extraordinary circumstances, such as a serious medical or personal emergency, and only with the prior approval of the Dean of Students or the Administrative Board, depending on the nature of the situation, for J.D. students, or the Graduate Committee in the case of graduate students. Individual faculty members do not have the authority to make exceptions to this rule and must not be consulted in order to preserve anonymity.

Law School examinations are administered using the School's exam software unless:  (1) the format of the exam makes it impossible to use the software or (2) an exception for an individual student has been approved by the Dean of Students Office.

Law School examinations are anonymous, and self-identification of any kind is not permitted. Students should not put their name, class year, program, school, or any personal comments that might identify them anywhere on their exam materials. Self-identification may result in disallowance of the exam, a failing grade for the course, and referral to the Administrative Board for possible disciplinary action. Students may not discuss individualized exam arrangements with faculty members.  Students may not communicate in any way with faculty members during an examination, including through email.

On the day of the examination, or on the day scheduled for the exam to be submitted, students are required to submit examinations on time. Late exam cases will be referred to the Administrative Board. Sanctions for late exams may include notations on the student’s transcript and adjustments to the exam grade.

All students are responsible for reviewing and following the examination rules and regulations posted with the examination schedules.

B. Deferred Examination Policy

All students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the deferred examination policy. Below are the guidelines for deferred examinations as established by the Administrative Board.

1. Deferred examination requests will NOT be granted for the following reasons:

a) Employment reasons

b) Travel/vacation/social plans

c) Bar review courses

d) Conflicts with a class at another school. 

e) Exams that are scheduled within a short time period, except as explained below in Section IV.B.2.

f) Medical problems that do not seriously interfere with immediate pre-exam preparation or the student’s ability to take the exam on the scheduled exam day

g) Airline flights and schedules.

Note: The Administrative Board does not approve deferment for research opportunities, clinical experiences (other than as described in Section IV.B.2.(a)(iii)), school-sponsored trips or classes.

2. Deferred examination requests may be granted in limited circumstances as explained below:

a) To request deferment under the following circumstances (IV.B.2(a)i-iv), students should submit a letter or email the Office of the Registrar at least two weeks prior to the exam, giving reason, name of exam, and exam date appearing on the exam schedule.

i. Where two Harvard Law School examinations, for courses that do not share the same time block, are scheduled on the same day, one exam will be deferred.

ii. Religious observance conflict. A student who cannot take an exam at the time scheduled for religious reasons will be allowed to take it at a different time.

iii. Unavoidable conflicts with court hearings or other administrative proceedings connected to the Clinical Programs. The student must exhaust all means of avoiding the conflict by attempting to reschedule the hearing or attempting to arrange coverage of the hearing by another qualified student or attorney.

iv. Conflicts with an exam in a cross-registered course (e.g., Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School); on a showing that the other school will not move the exam, the Law School exam will be deferred.

b) To request deferment under the following circumstances (IV.B.2(b)i-vi), J.D. students should contact the Dean of Students and LL.M and S.J.D. students should contact the Graduate Program:

i. Illness of Student: A student must first contact Law School Health Services at 617-495-4414 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm weekdays or Harvard University Health Services 617-495-5711 after 5:00 pm weekdays and on weekends.  A student must give Health Services permission to discuss his or her general situation with the student’s personal doctor and with Accessibility Services in the Dean of Students Office. A student must receive medical clearance before an exam can be deferred on this basis. In cases of medical deferment, the student will be required to take the exam as soon as the student is able according to the doctor’s assessment. 

ii. Death or serious illness of a person in the immediate family or other person with whom the student has a similarly close relationship, which requires the student’s attention away from the Law School during the exam period.

iii. Personal emergency that interferes with an exam or immediate pre-exam preparation.

iv. Delivery of child that interferes with an exam or immediate pre-exam preparation (applies to either parent).

v. Unavoidable military commitment.

vi. Educational opportunities that are deemed extraordinary by the Administrative Board, such as participation as a speaker in a conference or paper presentation outside of the Cambridge area.

3. Procedure for requesting a deferred examination

a) Requests to defer exams under the circumstances outlined above must be made as soon as the student is aware of a potential scheduling problem, no later than two weeks prior to the first scheduled exam, except in emergencies that arise closer to the date of the exam.

b) In order to protect the security of the exam, individual exams are never moved to an earlier date; rescheduling is made to the earliest time possible after the exam was scheduled to take place. Exams will not be deferred beyond the exam period except under extraordinary circumstances.

c) Exams are deferred only as long as necessary to minimize the conflict or alleviate the reason for deferment. Exams will not be deferred for a longer period, even if this creates an inconvenience for the student based on other plans. Certain exams are not published in the HLS exam archive and require high security; these exams will be given only at Harvard Law School under proctored conditions.

d) Deferments based on medical reasons must always be processed through Law School Health Services, as described above. An exam will be deferred only if Health Services certifies it necessary for medical reasons. In cases where matters may be facilitated by direct discussion between Health Services and the Dean of Students Office or the Graduate Program, which may turn the matter over to the Administrative Board, the student should sign a release in the Health Services giving his or her permission for such discussion to take place, and the student should be informed in advance of the content of such communication. A release is required whether for verbal or written communication in these instances. It should be noted that the Administrative Board is not necessarily bound by the recommendation of the Health Services.

4. Other Circumstances

Special arrangements to take exams in a separate room, or with extra time, may be made only in the case of previously identified disability or serious medical problems, after recommendation by the Law School Health Services and with advance consultation with Accessibility Services in the Dean of Students Office.

C. Retaking an Examination

See Section I.Q

Last modified: September 15, 2014

© 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.