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Exam Information

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Confidential Exam Guidelines

In the early 1990s Senate endorsed a policy that would ensure that final examination question papers used in a course would normally be made available to students for reference purposes.

The goal was to ensure that all students had equal access to final exams administered in earlier versions of their courses. In practice, exams from the previous academic year are published in October on the Exambank.

The release of exam question papers also encourages good practice in terms of academic integrity by encouraging instructors to construct new exam questions in subsequent offerings of the same course.

While exams should normally be released to the Exambank, exceptions to the Senate policy may be granted under rare and occasional circumstances. Exams designated as “confidential” will never be released to the Exambank. If your exam contains the following, it may be considered for confidential status:

  • exam questions are taken from copyrighted test banks
  • multiple choice exam formats are being used for very large classes
  • limited material is available for testing (e.g. anatomy, physiology), and a limited pool of exam questions exist

A request for confidential exam status must be made each time the course is offered since permission is granted only for a final exam in a particular term and year, not for all final exams in the course in future years. If confidential exam status is approved, instructors are obliged to provide students with sample study questions.

Deadlines

Requests for confidential exams must be made to the Associate Deans (Studies) by the following dates:

December Exam Period

October 1

April Exam Period

February 1

June Exam Period

May 1

July Exam Period

June 1

Procedures

Where confidential status is appropriate for an exam, the instructor will fill out a Confidential Exam Request Form and forward it to the Associate Deans (Studies), F200 Mackintosh-Corry Hall by the deadlines noted above.

  1. The Associate Deans (Studies) will respond by e-mail within 10 days of receipt of the form.
  2. The Associate Deans (Studies) will provide the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) with a list of approved courses.
  3. The OUR will stamp the exam papers “Confidential”.
  4. The OUR will arrange for the collection of exam papers at the end of the exam.
  5. The OUR will return confidential exam papers to instructors. Copies of all other exam papers will be held in the OUR (and remain temporarily confidential) until they are released to the Exambank in October of the following academic session.

Exam Disruptions

The policy approved by the Senate Committee on Academic Procedures states that exams will be continued after a disruption provided that the exam hall can be cleared for re-entry within one hour.  If the exam hall cannot be cleared for re-entry within one hour, the exam will be abandoned and instructors consulted.  (This step is taken to ensure that the exams scheduled for the next time slot are not delayed.)   The policy reads:

“If an examination is evacuated with greater than 30 minutes remaining in the exam period, students should expect that the exam will resume if the venue is declared safe within a reasonable time interval. Instructors will be notified as soon as possible and will have the responsibility to decide how to deal with the interruption and its effect on the exam.  In all cases, information will be posted on the departmental web site as soon as possible after a disrupted exam.”

Role of instructor in minimizing the impact of a disrupted exam

1.  Be present at exam. 

To minimize the impact of a disrupted exam, instructors should be present at the exam.  If an exam is disrupted, an instructor is a reassuring presence to students and also has first-hand knowledge of the opportunity students may have had to discuss the exam and judge the extent to which the exam may have been compromised

2.  Follow up with students. 

If the exam resumes after evacuation, or if it is discontinued because of a lengthy delay or real emergency, students will be anxious to know how their performance on the exam will be assessed given the time lost during evacuation, the break in concentration, individual differences in the order the exam questions were answered, etc.  Communicating instructions and plans to students clearly and without delay is key to minimizing the effects of a disrupted exam.    

Options for ensuring fairness in assessment as a result of an exam disruption are noted in Assessing the Impact of Exam Disruption on Students’ Grades.

3.  If the exam must be re-scheduled.

If the exam cannot be continued due to a real emergency, or if the instructor determines that the integrity of the exam has been compromised and results of the exam unusable, the instructor will be given the opportunity to request a re-scheduling of the exam.  If the decision is made immediately after the disruption, the exam may be rescheduled for the next available exam time or to a Sunday afternoon or evening). 

Assessing the Impact of Exam Disruption on Students' Grades

ScenariosOptions for Instructors
Disruption occurs in only one building, but you have students writing in multiple buildings.When posting instructions, keep in mind that instructions apply only to the students whose exams were disrupted and do not apply to students who wrote the exam without disruption.
Before resuming exam, students may have accessed texts, notes or talked with other students while waiting outside exam hall.

OR

Exam is abandoned as a result of a real emergency.

i.Use exam results as set out in existing marking scheme.

ii. Provide alternative marking scheme for whom the timing of the disruption worked against them.

iii.Re-schedule exam for later in the exam period with an alternate exam paper (make request through the departmental exam liaison staff). Note that there will be students who cannot write at the new time and will need a deferred exam for which the instructor is responsible for arranging and administering.

iv. Schedule an optional exam early in next term.

Post instructions for the affected students to Departmental Website.

Missed Exams

When a Student misses an Exam

In most courses there will be students who miss the exam and appeals to instructors to make up the exam or in some other way to complete the course. To help instructors deal with the missed exam, we are presenting this overview of the options available and some of the relevant factors to consider when selecting an appropriate course of action.  Also included is a list of scenarios that commonly occur, key considerations and implications of possible outcomes.

Relevant factors for instructors to consider:

Sometimes there will be advance notice, such as planned surgery that cannot be put off any longer or a family member’s serious illness reaching a critical stage, other times there will be no notice, such as when a student gets sick or is injured in a car accident the night before the exam.  The way to make up the missed exam may vary from student to student and instructor to instructor, and will depend on a number of factors.  For example, in the case of illness, when will the student be well enough to write?  Has the student had ongoing problems throughout the term, or is the student dealing with an isolated situation?  What proportion of the final grade does exam contribute?  Has all of the work of the course, except the final exam, been completed?  Is the student passing or failing on the basis of work completed? 

Considering the relevant factors, one or more of the options below may be an appropriate course of action. 

Numeric Grade reflecting work completed

If the student has not written the final exam and the instructor has not received a request from the student for alternate arrangements, the mark assigned should reflect the grades earned on the work completed in the course.  In most cases this would be a failing grade, but there are cases in which a student can pass the course without passing (or writing) the final exam.

Aegrotat Standing –  AG

AG, preceded by a numeric grade, or AG preceded by CR, is the transcript notation used when both the instructor and the Associate Dean (Studies) has approved a student’s request for aegrotat standing.   Students who, because of documented  illness or other extenuating circumstances beyond their control, are unable to complete all the work of the course, particularly the final examination, must appeal in writing to the instructor and to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies) for aegrotat standing. Normally at least 60 per cent of the work in the course must be completed.  If this request is granted, the instructors involved will be asked to provide an estimated final grade or, if that is not possible, to advise whether the student may be granted credit for the course without a grade.

Credit Standing – CR

CR is the transcript notation used when the Associate Dean (Studies) has approved a student’s request for credit standing.  Students who completed all of the work of the course, including the final examination, but due to documented illness or other extenuating circumstances beyond their control, earned a substantially lower passing grade than might have been expected, may appeal in writing to the instructor and to the Office of the Associate Dean (Studies) for credit standing. The Associate Dean (Studies) will consult with the instructor before reaching a decision on the appeal.  If the appeal is granted, the notation CR will be entered as the final grade in the course.

 

Scenarios when students miss an Exam

ScenariosImplications, ConsiderationsOptions available for Instructors
Student has been suffering with an ongoing kidney illness throughout much of the term/session, and has managed to complete most (at least 60 percent) of the work, including a final exam, and passed the course, but performance has been significantly affected.For aegrotat standing:
  •  Is the exam worth 40 percent or less of the final grade in the course?
  •  If so, did the student complete all of the term work —or at least 60 percent of the entire course work?
  •  Did the term work include at least one supervised test?
  •  How well did the student perform on the term work?

For credit standing:
  •  Was all the work, and the final exam (if any) completed in the course?
  •  Was performance significantly affected by extenuating circumstances?
Instructor may support student’ appeal for aegrotat standing or credit standing.

If aegrotat standing, the options are:
  •  CR AG performance, and therefore grades, was significantly affected by extenuating circumstances; OR
  •  Numeric grade plus AG if considerations already given to take into account effects of extenuating circumstances on performance or if extenuating circumstances did not significantly affect performance.
Student has completed almost all of the work in the course, but due to surgery which cannot be delayed, is unable or unprepared to write the final exam as scheduled.


  •  Will you need to prepare a different set of exam questions than those administered during the examination period?
  •  For deferred exam, instructor is responsible for arranging the exam date, time, location and supervising the exam.
Instructor may grant deferred exam and schedule it within a specific timeframe (anywhere from a few days to the end of the summer) to allow time for student to recover from extenuating circumstances and/or to complete outstanding work/prepare for the final exam. Request for Deferred Exam

Student has completed all of the work in the course, but came down with the flu and was not able to write the final exam as scheduled.

  •  Will you need to prepare a different exam…?
  •  For deferred exam, instructor is responsible for arranging the exam date, time, location and supervising the exam.
  •  Does final exam count for 40 percent or less of the final mark in the course?
Instructor may grant deferred exam and schedule it within a few days to a few weeks to allow student to recover from illness and prepare for the final exam. Request for Deferred Exam
OR
Instructor may support student’s appeal for aegrotat standing, assigning a numeric grade with AG.
Student has unintentionally missed the exam (e.g. slept through alarm, mistaken exam date)
  •  Will you need to prepare a different exam…?
  •  For deferred exam, instructor is responsible for arranging the exam date, time, location and supervising the exam.
  •  Student credibility: has the student a history of missed deadlines and mistaken dates?
Instructor may grant deferred exam and schedule it within a specific timeframe (anywhere from a few days to the end of the summer) to allow time for student to recover from the situation and/or to complete outstanding work/prepare for the final exam. Request for Deferred Exam
OR
Instructor may decide not to provide student with deferred exams
Student has completed all of the work in the course, but for a car accident was not able to write the final exam as scheduled. The length of the recovery period is not easily estimated or it will be fairly long (over several months).
  •  When is student likely to be ready to write a deferred exam?
  •  Does final exam count for 40 percent or less of the final mark in the course?
May grant deferred exam with a specific date to be determined (anywhere from a month or more to a year), depending on the recovery time and time needed to review and prepare for exam. Request for Deferred Exam
OR
May support student’s appeal for aegrotat standing, basing a final grade on the term work completed.

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