Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

IV. Final Examinations

Instructors must be sure that they understand the examination system themselves; they are responsible for explaining it to students, especially to first-year students.

In general, all courses at Vassar must be “examined” by some sort of written work.  This “examination” may consist of written work during the term or of a final exercise.  There are four types of final exercise:

Select from the following to jump down the page:

A. Types of Examinations

  1. Regularly Scheduled Examinations

    Departments request that certain courses be included in the examination schedule prepared by the Registrar.  The examinations are assigned to one of fourteen time periods during the examination period at the end of the term.  Once a course has been assigned to a time period, it may not be changed by the department or the instructor without the permission of the Registrar or the dean of studies.  Grades are due in the Registrar’s office no later than seventy-two hours after the exam.

  2. Self-Scheduled Examinations

    Self-scheduled examinations may be taken by the student during specified daily hours from the beginning of the study period until the end of the first three days of scheduled exams.  Specific classrooms are designated by the Registrar for this purpose.  Examinations are picked up and returned to departmental or program offices during regular hours.  Grades are due no later than 72 hours after the fourth day of the examination period.

  3. Take-home Examinations

    Take-home examinations may be assigned any time after the last day of classes.  A take-home final should be recognized as a final examination and not a term paper.  It is due no later than the end of the third day of the exam period and should not be a research paper.  All parties should keep in mind that it replaces a two-hour scheduled examination.  Grades are due no later than 72 hours after the fourth day of the exam period.

  4. Paper in Lieu of Examination

    This exercise should not be confused with the final of a series of papers in a course or with the course term paper or final project.  It is, rather, a short paper which replaces a final exam.  Thus, the assignment should require no more time, in preparation and execution, than such an examination.  It is assigned during the last week of classes and due no later than the end of the third day of the exam period.


B. Announcement and Changes of Final Examination

By faculty legislation, all instructors must announce to each class within the first week of the term whether they will be offering final examinations on a regular, self-scheduled, or take-home basis, a paper in lieu of an examination, or no final examination.  The Registrar and the Dean of Studies will issue supplementary instructions about the conduct of self-scheduled examinations. 

Instructors should be sure they have notified their students fully of their plans for final examinations and should include them in the course syllabus.  Plans may not be changed once announced, except in an emergency and only with the permission of the dean of studies.

A student having three or more regularly scheduled final examinations occurring in three consecutive examination periods or having two exams scheduled at the same time, may request that the dean of studies office arrange to reschedule one of them.  The dean or class adviser will determine, in consultation with the instructors involved, which examination will be rescheduled and what the new date of the examination will be.

Instructors are not permitted to give special final examinations to individual students except by permission of the dean’s office.  The dean of studies and the dean of first-year students are available for consultation about examination problems.


C. Conduct of Final Examinations

Members of the faculty are urged to contribute as fully as possible to making conditions in the examination room conducive to quiet, good order and honorable methods of work.  The students are expected to maintain the integrity of their own work.  Instructors should, for regularly scheduled examinations, be available in case of need, such as undue noise, illness, late arrival of students or other emergency.  Students are expected to be seated in alternate seats during examinations.  They are permitted to take into the examination room only such materials as the instructor has prescribed.  Examination books in regular exams may not be taken by the students from the room; in self-scheduled exams, they are to be returned directly to the proper person by the student, according to instructions.  For scratch work or trial answers, students are expected to use the back pages of the examination books.  No pages should be torn out or inserted.

In regular examinations, instructors should be on hand before the end of the examination to receive the books and to check with their class lists before leaving the room to be sure that none are missing and that pages are not torn out or inserted.  The instructor is responsible for securing examination books.  Instructors should not leave unused examination books in locations available to students.


D. Absence, Lateness and Failure

Whenever possible, instructors are notified in advance when a student is expected to be absent from an examination.  Unexpected absences should be immediately reported by instructors to the Office of the Dean of Studies.  It is important for instructors to observe this regulation so that, if warranted, arrangements may be made for make-up of work not completed.

Absence from examinations at the scheduled time is excused only by the appropriate dean and only for illness or serious emergency.  After the dean confers with the student and determines that an “Incomplete” is necessary, an Incomplete form is issued with copies to the instructor, the Registrar and the student.  A student who misses any examination because of illness at home must secure appropriate medical documentation.

Before submitting a grade for a student whose absence remains unexplained, the instructor should consult the Office of the Dean of Studies about the student’s status.  Only the dean’s office may issue an Incomplete.

A student whose absence is not to be excused receives an F in the final examination.  The grade for the course as a whole is determined by the instructor.

No examinations are given in the Infirmary except when authorized by the college Physician through the Office of the Dean of Studies.  Such permission is given only in exceptional cases when students are no longer seriously ill but are still infectious or have an injury that confines them to the Infirmary.

A student who comes late to a final examination while it is still in session may be allowed, at the discretion of the instructor, to take the examination.

A student taking either a self-scheduled or a scheduled examination after the regular period will be given a new examination.

Seniors who fail a course examination at the end of the second semester may be permitted by the department, after consultation with the dean of studies, to take a re-examination before Commencement, if they fail in only one course.  If they fail two examinations, they must, except in unusual circumstances, wait until September to take the re-examinations, with the approval of the departments concerned and the dean of studies.

Examination books should be kept for one year in case of dispute over grades.  After that period, they may be returned to students, at the instructor’s discretion.

The rules of conduct for examinations which are not final examinations, as well as exceptions from these rules, may follow the above principles.  They are, however, established and administered by the individual instructor or, in some cases, by departmental legislation.