Final Exams

Final Exam Policy

Final examinations (policy 44-20) fulfill two important academic objectives: student integration of instructional material, and end-of-semester evaluation of student achievement. However, valid means other than the final examination also accomplish these objectives (e.g., term paper, final project report, take-home examination, etc.). Course instructors determine which of these methods is best.

Course instructors are expected to:

  • Offer a full schedule of instruction.
  • Schedule no comprehensive examinations during the last week of classes. Quizzes and narrowly limited tests worth no more than 10% or less of the course grade may be given.
  • Schedule final examinations worth more than 10% of the course grade during the established final examination period.
  • Set a due date during the final examination period for alternative means of evaluation (term papers, final projects, etc.) worth more than 10% of the course grade. Alternative means of evaluation worth 10% or less of the course grade may be due prior to the last day of the course.

Students who believe this policy is being violated should review the appeals process below.

Final Exam Schedules

Students and faculty at some campuses are provided personalized final exam schedules in LionPATH. These schedules are available approximately the fifth week of the semester. Plans to leave campus at the end of the semester should not be made until after students have reviewed their personalized final exam schedules.

Students at locations not offering personalized final exam schedules should check the campus Registrar's website for the final exam schedule. Questions concerning exam information should be directed to your campus Registrar's office.

Final Exam Overload

A final exam overload situation exists if a student has three or more exams scheduled in consecutive periods or within the same calendar day (policy 44-25).

Students may elect to take their exams as scheduled or may request that a final exam be rescheduled. Requests for rescheduling must be submitted within three weeks of the initial publication of the final exam schedule. Once a request is received, the Registrar's office determines which of the three exams will be rescheduled and notifies the student and the instructor by email.

How to Request Relief from a Final Exam Overload

University Park, Behrend, Harrisburg Campuses

Students attending the University Park, Behrend, and Harrisburg campuses should submit the Overload Conflict Exam Request Form to request relief from a final exam overload.

Other Penn State Campuses

Students attending all other Penn State campuses should contact your campus registrar to request relief from an exam overload conflict.

Final Exam Periods for University Park

  • First Period: 8:00 - 9:50 a.m.
  • Second Period: 10:10 - 12:00 noon
  • Third Period: 12:20 - 2:10 p.m.
  • Fourth Period: 2:30 - 4:20 p.m.
  • Fifth Period: 4:40 - 6:30 p.m.
  • Sixth Period: 6:50 - 8:40 p.m.

Final Exam Appeals Process

University policy requires that instructors schedule end-of-semester exams that are worth more than ten percent of a course grade only during the university's posted final exam period. Exceptions based on educational needs may be granted by college deans and chancellors.

A student who believes that an exam or other end-of-semester assignment has been scheduled in contradiction to this policy (Faculty Senate 44-20 and Academic and Administrative Policies and Procedures F-2) should, within one week of the announcement of the exam or assignment, communicate her or his concern to the course instructor.

On the rare occasion that a student and instructor fail to resolve the concern through informal means, the student may ask the associate dean or director of academic affairs of the college or campus offering the course to review the issue and to take appropriate action to mediate and seek resolution.