Deferred Examination Policy

In order to make the deferred examination policy known to all students, and in order to enable students seeking deferred examinations to understand in advance what they will be required to do, the Administrative Board has listed below our guidelines for deferred examinations.

  1. The following are reasons for which deferred exam requests will normally NOT be granted:
    1. Employment reasons.
    2. Travel/vacation/social plans.
    3. Bar Review courses.
    4. Conflicts with a class at another school (For conflicts with exam at another school, see below).
    5. Exams which are scheduled within a short time period, except as spelled out in 2 (a) below.
    6. Medical problems which do not seriously interfere with immediate pre-exam preparation or the student’s ability to take the exam on the scheduled exam day.
    7. Airline flights and schedules.
  2. The following are reasons for which deferred exam requests will normally be granted:
    1. Illness of Student – In order to defer an exam for medical reasons, you must first contact HLS Health Services, Pound 12, 495-4414. On evenings and weekends, contact University Health Services. Tell HLS/University Health Services that you need to defer an exam for medical reasons. You must give HLS/University Health Services permission to discuss your general situation with your personal doctor, if appropriate, and with Law School administrators rescheduling the exam. You must receive medical clearance before an exam can be deferred on this basis. In cases of medical deferment, you will be required to take the exam as soon as you are able according to the doctor’s assessment. In some cases, exams will be given in Stillman Infirmary, or in another city if you are hospitalized there. (If a student receives permission from the Administrative Board to take an exam in another city, the student is responsible for working with the Registrar’s Office to find a proctor in that city, generally at another university.) (See below for further information on medical deferments.)
    2. Death or serious illness of 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.
    3. Accident, victim of criminal assault, mugging, robbery or similar traumatic experience that interferes with exam or exam preparation.
    4. Delivery of child that interferes with exam or exam preparation. (Applies to either parent).
    5. Religious observance conflict: Any student who cannot take an exam at the time scheduled for religious reasons should give a letter to the Registrar’s Office at least two weeks prior to the exam, giving reason, name of exam and date appearing on schedule. The Registrar will notify the student of the new time and place. Ordinarily, these exams are scheduled earlier on the same day.
    6. Unavoidable conflicts with court hearings or other administrative proceedings connected to clinical programs, but only if the student has exhausted all means of avoiding the conflict by attempting to reschedule the hearing or to have another attorney handle the hearing if feasible.
    7. Unavoidable military commitment.
    8. Educational opportunities which are deemed extraordinary by the Administrative Board, such as participation as a speaker in a conference or paper presentation outside of the Cambridge area. (This may entail taking the exam in another city. If a student receives permission from the Administrative Board to take an exam in another city, the student is responsible for working with the Registrar’s Office to find a proctor in that city, generally at another university.)
    9. Conflicts with an exam in cross-registered course (e.g. Kennedy School, Business School), on a showing that the other school will not move the exam. (The general procedure in this case will be to move the Law School exam several hours later on the same day). Students who are not enrolled at HLS should consult their school for accommodations.
    10. Special circumstances related to the Berkeley Exchange Program.
    11. Such other extraordinary circumstances as deemed appropriate by the Administrative Board.
  3. Procedure
    1. Requests to defer exams under the above circumstances must be made as soon as the student is aware of a potential scheduling problem, usually not later than two weeks prior to the first scheduled exam.
    2. Exams are never moved to an earlier date; rescheduling is made to the earliest time possible after the conflict or reason for deferment. In some cases, this may mean postponing the exam several hours on the same day. Because the Law School does not give make-up exams, fairness warrants that all students take exams during the specified exam period. Accordingly, exams will not be deferred beyond the exam period except under extraordinary circumstances.
    3. Exams are deferred only as long as necessary to minimize the conflict or alleviate the reason for deferment. Exams will generally not be deferred for a longer period even if this creates inconvenience for the student based on other plans (e.g. a student who has emergency surgery in another city on December 5 and will need two weeks to recuperate would be expected to take his or her exam on December 19, even if that means taking the exam in a different city. The exam in this case would not be deferred until January just because of the Christmas holidays. Students may thus be required to take a deferred exam during the week between Christmas and New Year’s).
    4. Deferments based on medical reasons must always be processed through Law School Health Services, as described in 2(b). No faculty member or administrative office at the School may grant an exam deferment for medical reasons, without recommendation from HLS/University Health Services. HLS/University Health Services is not authorized to grant deferment of examinations. They are, however, authorized to recommend deferment when, in their judgment, there is adequate medical reason for so doing. In cases where matters may be facilitated by direct discussion between HLS/University Health Services and the Dean of Students office, the student should sign a release in HLS/University 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 in these instances. The Administrative Board is not necessarily bound by the recommendation of HLS/University Health Services. An exam will be deferred only as long as the Health Services certifies that it is necessary for medical reasons.
    5. Because of limited facilities during the examination period, rescheduled examinations may be held in rooms where multiple exams are given.
  4. Other Circumstances
    1. Special arrangements to take exams (1) in a separate room, or (2) with extra time, may be made only in the case of:
      1. Previously identified disability or serious medical problems, after recommendation by Law School Health Services and with appropriate medical documentation and consultation with the Law School Disability Coordinator in the Dean of Students Office.
Last modified: July 25, 2012

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