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COVID-19 Update: All 2021 Harvard Summer School courses and activities will be offered online.

Learn about the types of exams offered in Summer School courses, and review policies regarding exam absences, conflicts, and make-ups. If you have questions about exams, contact Academic Services at

Types of Exams

Quizzes, Hour, and Midterm Exams

Students are expected to take their exams on time and as scheduled by their instructors. Students who are unable to take a quiz, hour exam, or midterm due to extenuating circumstances should contact their instructor immediately. Instructors have varying policies regarding make-up quizzes, hour, and midterm exams.

Exams in Online Courses

Many distance education courses have exams, which may be take-home, online proctored, or online open book. Instructors will inform students of the format of course exams.

Online Exams

An online exam is a timed exam that is taken on a specific date and within a specific 24-hour period. Students enrolled in web conference courses should plan to take exams during class meeting times. Instructors may elect to administer exams online via Canvas (for open book exams) or with Proctorio (for remotely administered exams), or in limited cases, using a third party testing tool. Students should refer to the syllabus or contact course staff members with any questions about online exams. Students enrolled in online courses are expected to have the necessary computer systems (hardware and software) and internet access to take online exams. Paper exams will not be administered in lieu of the online exam except for accommodations approved by the Accessibility Services Office.

Final Exams

A final exam, paper, or project is required in all courses. Seminars and workshops in which students are evaluated on the basis of reports and ongoing weekly assignments are the exceptions to this policy. Only registered undergraduate- and graduate-credit students are allowed to take final exams and submit final papers and projects.

Final exams are generally three hours long and are administered according to the exam schedule set by the registrar. Your instructor will inform you of the date, time, and format of the final exam in your course.

If you are not able to start your final exam at the scheduled time, you may not make separate arrangements with your instructor to take the final exam at an earlier or later time. Grades are not accepted for students who do this. If you cannot take your final exam at the scheduled time, you may be eligible to appeal for a make-up final exam.

If you begin your final exam and are unable to complete it for any reason, you are assigned a failing grade (E), or zero, for the incomplete portion of the exam. You are not allowed to complete the final exam at another time or appeal for a make-up final exam. If you do not take your final exam and did not withdraw from the course by the withdrawal deadline, you are assigned a failing grade for the final exam.

Final Take-Home Exams

Students who cannot submit a take-home exam by the deadline should contact their instructor immediately. The instructor may approve an extension of time (EXT) grade and write a new take home exam or assign the student a failing grade for the exam depending on the instructor’s policies. If it is the instructor’s policy to grant extension of time, the student should use the extension of time form to request more time to submit their new take-home exam. To qualify for the extension the student must be in good academic standing in the course.

Make-Up Final Exams

Students who are not able to start their timed online final exams as scheduled because of compelling and extenuating circumstances may be eligible to appeal for a make-up final exam. Students who begin a final exam but do not complete it for any reason, including illness, are not eligible to appeal for a make-up final exam.

Make-up final exam appeals are considered only for students who owe no other work in the course than the final exam, have good records of attendance and participation, and are in good academic and financial standing with the Division of Continuing Education. Academic Services contacts instructors to verify students’ academic standing as part of the appeals process.

Supporting documentation must accompany an appeal. At least one piece of documentation is required for medical circumstances and at least two pieces of documentation are required for all other circumstances. Documentation must be on official letterhead, be written in English, be signed by the appropriate person in an official capacity, confirm the reason for missing the exam and, if relevant, include travel information. Medical documentation must be in the form of a letter that describes the illness, specific dates of the illness, and the functional limitations that affected the student’s ability to take the final exam as scheduled.

Students may appeal for a make-up final exam by submitting the make-up final exam appeal form within three calendar days of a missed exam. Incomplete and late appeals will not be considered.

The Make-up Examination Committee will begin to review appeals for the summer 2021 term on July 23. Students will be notified of decisions by email. Online, distance and absentia exams are administered on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. Students who do not take a make-up final exam as scheduled are assigned a failing grade for the exam.

Exam Absences for Religious Reasons

A student may request that an exam be rescheduled without penalty if the exam is scheduled on a day of religious observance for the student. Students should speak with their instructor no later than two weeks before the exam date to reschedule the exam.

Students who have a religious obligation that conflicts with a final exam must submit a completed make-up final exam appeal form to Academic Services within three calendar days of the exam. The make-up final exam appeal fee is waived for students with religious conflicts. However, students must include documentation from an appropriate religious or spiritual leader confirming the conflict with the exam. Exams are rescheduled for August 18. Students who also have religious conflicts with the scheduled make-up date should indicate this in their appeal statement.

Additional Information

For more information, email