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 (below).

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.

Academic Consideration during the Exam Period

Please note that the Senate Policy on Academic Consideration for Students in Extenuating Circumstances is applicable during the final examination period. In the Faculty of Arts and Science, students who are too ill to write the examination or are experiencing extenuating circumstances are being directed to the Academic Consideration Request Portal (ACRP) to submit a request for consideration. Instructors are asked to recognize the University's good faith approach and provide the student with support in the form of an alternative or deferred assessment.

 

  1. Request for Academic Consideration using the Self-Declaration for Brief Absence Form (up to 48 hours)
    Students may use the Self-Declaration request form for an extenuating circumstance that is expected to resolve itself within 48 hours. The instructor will receive an email from the Faculty Office notifying them of the student's request. In this case, the student could be required to write a deferred examination any time after the 48 hour absence, if it does not result in 3 consecutive exams within 24 hours.
  2. Request for Academic Consideration for Short-Term Extenuating Circumstances (more than 48 hours, up to 3 months)
    Students should use the Academic Consideration for Short-Term Extenuating Circumstances request form (more than 48 hours and up to 3 months) if they are experiencing extenuating circumstances that will last for more than 48 hours. In this case, the University requires supporting documentation. Instructors will receive an email from the Faculty Office notifying them of the request and verifying receipt of appropriate documentation. Given the volume of requests during the exam period, there may be a delay in the notification.      

 

Please note that for both types of requests, it is the responsibility of the students to follow up with the instructor, but that it is up to the instructor to determine the date of the deferred examination, in accordance with their departmental policy on deferred examinations, if applicable. Deferred examinations could be scheduled up to the end of the subsequent term. Any further extensions based on continued extenuating circumstances will require a written appeal to the Associate Dean (Studies).   

Please consult the Protocol for Short-Term Academic Consideration for Students.

New Regulation on Extenuating Circumstances Occurring During an Examination

Additions to Academic Regulation 8, Final and Mid-Year Examinations, were recently approved by Faculty Board. The new Academic Regulation 8.4.3 is meant to provide instructors with the discretion to allow re-writes of final and mid-year exams in rare situations where it is determined that the student's exam attempt was affected by extenuating circumstances and is deemed not to be a valid attempt:

 

"Students who experience serious illness during the course of writing a scheduled examination that prevents them from completing the examination, must notify an Examination Proctor prior to leaving the examination hall, or prior to exiting the examination session of an online proctored examination. The Faculty Office will liaise with the instructor of the course to determine if the examination attempt is considered valid. If students leave the examination hall or exit an online examination without notifying and Examination Proctor, the examination attempt will be considered valid and no retroactive consideration will be possible.

If, after consultation with the instructor, the examination attempt is not considered valid, permission for the student to re-write the final examination may be granted for documented cases at the discretion of the instructor(s) and the Associate Dean (Studies). Alternatively, other options for the student to complete the course may be provided."

Incomplete Grades (IN)

When the deferred final examination is scheduled after the submission of grades, the instructor should submit an incomplete grade (IN), as defined in Academic Regulation 10.3.4. Please note that the latest date by which the course requirements may be completed is the end of the subsequent term, which would in this instance be September 15, 2018. Any further extensions based on continued extenuating circumstances will require a written appeal to the Associate Dean (Studies). Students with extenuating circumstances who have been unable to complete the majority of their work in a course should instead consider submitting an appeal to drop the course.

The Faculty Office is currently revising the ''Permission for an Incomplete Grade or Deferred Examination'' form to align it with the new Academic Consideration Policy and Protocol. In the meantime, instructors are welcome to use it or adapt it if they wish to formalize their agreement with the student regarding the date of the deferred exam.

Re-weighting of marks

The option of re-weighting marks i.e. allocating /shifting marks associated with missed work to another academic requirement that assesses similar learning outcomes should be used mainly when:
  1. a student has missed a small component of academic work and/or
  2. a) it is not possible to have the same assessment at a later time because the component has been compromised (i.e. answers posted or material covered in class) or
    b) when it is not possible to set an alternative assessment (with the same learning outcomes).
It is possible to redistribute marks on a mid-term to a final exam when the final exam assesses the same learning outcomes as the mid-term. However, it is not recommended if it puts the student in a Pass/Fail situation.

It is not possible to retroactively redistribute marks from a missed final exam (or a comprehensive/end of term assignment) to a previous component of the course. If this final component of the course is missed, the preferred option will be to give the student an Incomplete (with a deferred exam or an extension of the assignment). The alternative option would require an appeal to the Associate Dean (Studies) for Aegrotat Standing, which is only possible when the student has completed at least 60% of the course.