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Midterm exams are not centrally scheduled. They are generally held in the same room at the same time as the regular class meeting. Hence the maximum length of the exam is 80 minutes. Each faculty member chooses when he or she would like to administer midterms. In doing so, it is customary for faculty in the larger MPP or MPAID required core courses to coordinate the schedules to avoid exam conflicts within the MPP or MPAID programs. Faculty are required to indicate the date for midterms on their syllabi and on their initial class administrative handouts.
If faculty are combining sections for a midterm exam they should work with Room Reservations in the Office of Facilities and Services to find a large enough space.
The primary difference between take home exams and papers is one of timing. Faculty may hand out a take home exam during the last week of class (but not before) and they are generally due within a defined period of time after being distributed(e.g. 24, 36, 48 hours).
Note that take homes in Fall 1 or Spring 1 may be due at any time up until the end of the first week of classes in Fall 2 or Spring 2. Take home exams for Fall 2 and Spring 2 follow the same schedule as take home exams for the regular fall and spring semesters.
Final papers on the other hand are a product that the student may be working on throughout the term. Papers may not be due during the last week of class. They are due on any date selected by the faculty member between the end of classes and the end of exam period.
The syllabus (and also the take home exam itself or instructions for the paper) should make it clear whether the instructor will accept these submissions. If electronic submissions are accepted, the deadline for submission should be 24 hours earlier than for those that are submitted in hard copy. This allows time to address possible transmission and technical mishaps.
It is recommended that instructors include the following language on the cover sheet for all take home exams:
”You may consult your books or other reference material or your class notes. You many NOT consult any person other than the instructor or course assistant about any aspect of this exam. The rules of attribution apply to take home exams: All sources should be cited, including other students' written work. If you have any questions about any part of this exam, you may call the instructor: (…name…) at (…phone…) during the following hours: (…days and hours…). Or you may call one of the course assistants: (…names…) at (…phones…) during the following times: (…days and hours…).”
In addition, the Administrative Board recommends that the exam include an affidavit attesting to compliance with the stipulations listed above, to be signed by each student when he or she turns in the exam.
Example of a compliance affidavit:
Statement of Compliance with Kennedy School Rules for Take Home Exams
I affirm that I have had no conversation regarding this exam with any persons other than the instructor and the authorized course assistants. Further, I certify that the attached work represents my own thinking. Any information, concepts, or words that originate from other sources are cited in accordance with Harvard Kennedy School guidelines as published in the Academic Code. I am aware of the serious consequences that result from improper discussions with others or from the improper citation of work that is not my own.
All students must attend midterm and final exams unless excused for reasons of illness or family emergency. The expectation is that students may not sign up for two courses with exams at the same time, so a conflict in final exam schedule is not an acceptable excuse. Nor is missing an exam to attend a job interview considered acceptable. If a student simply fails to show up for a final exam, he or she is given a grade of ABS (absent).
A student who is unable to take an exam should notify the Registrar immediately. If instead the student gets in touch with the instructor, the instructor should immediately turn the matter over to the Registrar in order to ensure that students in like circumstances are treated equally. This policy applies to take home exams as well as scheduled blue book exams.
When a student misses an exam for an acceptable reason (having appropriately notified the Registrar in advance), it is up to the instructor and the student to schedule and arrange for proctoring the make up exam at a mutually agreeable time. To prevent the perception or the reality of unfair advantage, the instructor must write a different exam for the rescheduled exam.
If a student misses a midterm exam for an unacceptable reason, the faculty member has several options, including assigning a failing grade for the midterm exam and counting it in the overall grade average for the course, weighting other academic products more heavily to make up for the fact that the midterm has been missed; or (in addition to changing the weight of other academic products) reducing the final grade by one full grade (e.g., from A- to B+).
Final “in-class” exams are scheduled by the Office of the Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum during the exam period at the conclusion of the semester. Exams are scheduled for a three hour period. In most cases, final exams may not be held during the last class meeting.
The fall exam schedule is made public in early August preceding the academic year, while the spring exam schedule is published during the fall semester. Once the exam schedule has been published exam days or times may not be changed. Exams may not be added. However exams may be cancelled entirely if the faculty changes to a take home exam or final paper. Students must plan on being on campus throughout the in-class examination period.
The exception to this rule pertains to Fall 1 and Spring 1 courses. As with midterm exams, exams for these modules are held on the last day of class in the regularly scheduled room. Final exams for Fall 2 & Spring 2 courses follow the regular fall and spring semester exam schedule. See schedule for final exams and papers.
The exam schedules for the fall and spring semesters are created and typically made public by August 1 (fall) and November 1 (spring). This enables students to check exam schedules before registering for classes and to avoid the problem of taking two courses with exams at the same time.
It is the students' responsibility to make sure they do not register for two classes with exams scheduled at the same time. When or if a conflict arises (frequently with courses in other departments whose exam schedule was not published early, or which may have changed) it is the students' responsibility to resolve the conflict. Faculty are not required to give a make up exam in this case; if they do, they must write a different exam for that student.
Faculty have the overall responsibility for all exams given in their courses and are expected to be present on site during the duration of their exam whether or not there are CAs and TFs to proctor the exam.
If the course does not have a CA nor TF to proctor, the faculty member is expected to be in the exam room at all times. If there are CA or TF proctors, the faculty member must still be present at the first 15 and final 15 minutes of the exam.
Grading: Due dates for submitting final grades are set by the Office of the Registrar. Please refer to Key Dates and Academic Calendar for grade due dates. For detailed information on the Harvard Kennedy School grading system, policies, etc., click here.
If students come to an instructor’s office to inquire about their grades, the instructor must take care that they do not inadvertently see a grade sheet on the desk or computer screen. If the instructor’s staff assistant handles that end of the grading process, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure that the assistant is equally careful. Students wishing to have their spring exams returned by mail should provide the instructor with a self-addressed stamped manila envelope.
Please refer to Posting Student Grades and The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) for more information about student privacy requirements.
It is the responsibility of the faculty member to pick up the appropriate number of blue books from the Course Materials Office. If the exam is at 9:00 a.m. the blue books must be picked up the day before, which means if the exam is on Monday the blue books must be picked up on the previous Friday. As an alternative to blue books, some faculty find answer packets more satisfactory for students and easier to use.
At the start of the exam each student receives two packets:
There is one page for each question (identified by question number, plus title if it has one); the student enters the ID# only on each page.
There is one page for each question (identified by question number, plus title if it has one); the student enters the ID# only on each page. The 8½x11 answer packets work particularly well for quantitative exams.
If the instructor wishes, diagrams or equations that appear in the question may be photocopied into the answer packet.
After the exam, the CAs sort the completed exam packets by question to facilitate faculty grading, making sure there is an ID# on each page. When grading is finished, grades are entered in a spreadsheet. The packets are then reassembled for return to the students.
There is no centralized proctor assignment system. CAs and TFs are informed that they must be available during the exam period to proctor the exam. Faculty should remind them of this responsibility.
Even if the CAs and TFs proctor the exam, instructors must be present 15 minutes before the exam begins and remain in the room for 15 minutes after the start of the exam. Instructors should appear at regularly scheduled intervals during the exam to answer substantive questions and to give proctors breaks. With the larger classes, it is recommended that there be a minimum of two proctors in the room at all times.
If there are no CAs or TFs associated with the course the faculty member must proctor the exam.
Please refer to Posting Student Grades under Credit, Grades, and Grading for more information.