Guidelines for spring 2020 final exams

Dear Colleagues:

The Academic Senate offers the following guidelines for final exams in Spring 2020. We moved to remote instruction on March 11, 2020. Two months later, we understand more than ever the stresses and challenges that our students are facing during this period of remote learning amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that remote proctored exams can create additional stress and difficulty, especially for students with internet and hardware issues, and students living in different time zones. Therefore, the Senate encourages all instructors to be creative and compassionate when designing final exams in Spring 2020.

We strive to maintain the rigor and academic excellence that defines UCLA along with the need for flexibility in these challenging times. These guidelines are intended to give instructors a range of strategies to consider adapting for their particular courses.

  • Final exams must be held for courses in which they were already scheduled, according to Academic Senate regulations [UC SR 770-772UCLA SR A330-332UCLA SR 505]. Under the current suspension of specific sections of Senate Regulations 332 and 505 (PDF), instructors have the flexibility to change their method of final assessments. As stated in Divisional Regulation 332The final grade shall reflect the student’s achievement in the course and shall be based upon adequate evaluation of the achievement.
  • If administering a timed exam, be mindful that students are now in different time zones across the globe. Where feasible, consider using CCLE tools to set a time limit (e.g., a 3-hour time limit in a 24-hour period), or offering two or three different versions of the exam at two or three different times in a 24-hour period. Changing the scheduled day and time of an exam for all students may cause conflicts with other exams. Imposing the same examination time for all students may cause unneeded hardship for students who may be compelled to take the exam at an inopportune time.
  • Understand the accommodations for students registered with the Center for Accessible Education (CAE). Review any exam accommodations listed in their Letter of Accommodations, and contact the CAE counselor listed on the Letter of Accommodation for additional support. Please also consult the Spring 2020 Addendum to Accommodation Instructions for Faculty from the CAE, and the COVID-19 Accessible Instructional Material Resources from the Office of Information Technology’s Disabilities & Computing Program.
  • Encourage academic integrity by having students agree to an honor code, and reminding them of the UCLA Student Conduct Code. Sample text: “Section 102.01 of the UCLA Student Conduct Code prohibits all forms of academic misconduct or research misconduct, including, but not limited to, cheating, fabrication or falsification, plagiarism, multiple submissions, facilitating academic dishonesty, coercion regarding grading or evaluation of coursework, or unauthorized collaboration. By submitting your exam for grading, you affirm that your work is solely your own and that you have not communicated with anyone other than the instructor and proctors in any way during the exam.”
  • Consider the use of open-book final exam assessments, short answer questions, or essay formats to de-incentivize misconduct. Consider mentioning the potential use of plagiarism detecting software or services.
  • Use CCLE tools to discourage academic dishonesty (e.g. question order shuffling, pulling questions from a question bank at random).
  • Wherever possible, instructors are encouraged not to curve exams. If some students cheat, their “success” will not reduce the chances for other students to get A’s as well.
  • The Senate does not require final exams for graduate courses. Instructors in graduate courses currently approved with final exams, however, may make adjustments along the lines of those listed in the bullets above, as they deem necessary and in consultation with their department chair.

For more resources regarding final examinations and proctoring, please consult the resources on Planning for Academic Continuity from the Administrative Vice Chancellor’s Office, the Checklist for Remote Assessment Recommendation from the Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences (CEILS), and the Spring 2020 Addendum to Accommodation Instructions for Faculty from the Center for Accessible Education (CAE).

Thank you for your flexibility during these challenging times.


Michael Meranze
Chair, UCLA Academic Senate

Adriana Galván
Chair, Undergraduate Council

Andrea Kasko
Chair, Graduate Council

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