Guidelines Regarding Final Examinations
These guidelines were developed to help chairpersons make decisions
about which courses may be exempted from having a final examination
during the fifteenth week of the semester. While the guidelines may
appear to be restrictive, they are necessary for clarity, uniformity,
and accountability. While there are alternatives to final examinations,
they should be offered only in appropriate situations.
- In accordance with long-standing practice and the support
of a sizeable portion of the faculty, it is generally agreed that a
final examination supports the maintenance of academic standards and is
sound academic policy.
- According to the New York State
Education Department, a "semester hour means a credit, point, or other
unit granted for the satisfactory completion of a course which requires
at least 15 hours (of 50 minutes each) of instruction and at least 30
hours of supplementary assignments. This basic measure must be adjusted
proportionately to translate the value of other academic calendars and
formats of study in relation to the credit granted for study during the
two semesters which comprise an academic year."
The academic calendar at Queens College calls for a fourteen-week
term, with the fifteenth week reserved for final examinations. Note
that that fifteenth week is provided to give students time to prepare
for final examinations without conflicting with other course
commitments. If one class has an examination in the fourteenth week,
while classes are still in session, students often feel the need to
“cut” their other courses so they can prepare for the fourteenth-week
examination. Clearly the lack of standardization is a hardship for some
students and creates inequitable conditions for faculty.
In summary, then:
- It is good academic practice to conclude
courses offered at Queens College with a formal final examination, or
the last in a series of shorter examinations. These examinations should
be given during the fifteenth week of the semester.
are other courses for which reasonable alternatives to final
examinations exist. Such courses might include seminars, studio and
performance courses, certain laboratory courses, student teaching, etc.
All such courses should, however, include appropriate summative
- Classroom examinations given during the first fourteen weeks of the semester do not satisfy the requirement for a final examination or an alternative summative evaluation.
- Whenever possible, summative evaluation activities should take place during the fifteenth week of the semester.
from the requirement for a formal final examination during the
fifteenth week of the semester must be obtained from the department
chairperson, who will judge the appropriateness of:
alternative to a formal final examination, such as a take-home
examination, which is distributed and returned during the fifteenth
- An alternate summative evaluation such as a
final term paper which is submitted and graded during the fifteenth
week, or a juried trial in art studio performed during the fifteenth
week of the semester; or
- Additional activities in
special courses in other than the fifteenth week of the semester, such
as extra field trips and reports or extra assignments and conferences
- At the end of the
thirteenth week, the chairperson should submit a list of exempted
courses and the reasons for such exemption to the appropriate
NOTE: New York State
requirements for credits and college assumptions about final
examinations also apply during Intersession and Summer Session.