Arlie Petters, Dean of Academic Affairs

Final Examinations and Grading Policies

April 10, 2018

Dear Faculty,

As we move toward the end of the spring 2018 semester, I would like to call to your attention to certain matters which are governed by policies of the faculty.


Grades are due in the Registrar’s Office within twenty-four hours of the final exam for graduating students and within forty-eight hours of the final exam for all other students. Timely reporting of grades for all students is necessary. Missing grades may cause students to be disadvantaged in matters such as eligibility for Deans’ list, continuation at Duke for the following semester, etc. (See “Reporting Grades,” Chapter 6/11 of the Faculty Handbook.)

Final grade rosters for Spring 2018 have been created, and will be available for use in DukeHub on April 10. The Registrar will be sending information on how to use the on-line system. Otherwise, you can submit your grade rosters, which can still be printed via DukeHub, to the Registrar's Office at 1121 West Main Street, Monday - Friday, between the hours of 8:00-5:00, or they may be faxed to the Registrar's Office. If you choose to report your grades using the fax system, please do not use red ink. The fax number is 684-4500.


From the Bulletin of Undergraduate Instruction:

If a student is absent from a final examination, an "X" is given instead of a final grade unless the student’s grade in the class is failing, in which case the instructor may submit an "F." The student must present an acceptable explanation for the absence to the appropriate academic dean within forty-eight hours after the scheduled time of the examination…. Deferral of a final examination will not be authorized by the academic dean if it is ascertained that the student has a history of excessive absences or failure to complete coursework in a timely fashion in the course in question. The "X" is converted to an "F" if the academic dean does not approve the absence. If the absence is excused by an academic dean, the student arranges with the dean and the instructor for a makeup examination to be given at the earliest possible time.

If the “X” is approved by the academic dean, the student has until the end of the fifth week of classes in the succeeding semester [of enrollment] to take a make-up exam (unless the instructor establishes a different exam make-up date, or their continuation in the College is in question, in which case they will have an earlier exam make-up date, as indicated in the Bulletin of Undergraduate Instruction), or else the grade will be converted to an “F” automatically.


Requests from individual students for changes in a final examination are to be honored only in cases where supported by an official excuse from a student’s academic dean.


An Incomplete is to be assigned if, because of illness or other emergency, a student’s work in the course is incomplete, provided that the student has taken the final examination. Arrangements for an “I” should be made by students through their academic dean. Please note that students who are given permission to take an Incomplete must submit the work by the end of the fifth week of classes in the succeeding semester [of enrollment] (unless the instructor establishes an earlier deadline, or their continuation in the College is in question in which case they will have an earlier deadline, as indicated in the Bulletin of Undergraduate Instruction).

Procedure for submission of “I” grades

In the past, “I” grades were automatically converted to “F” for those who failed to finish class requirements by the end of the fifth week of classes in the succeeding semester, or an earlier deadline date as communicated by the instructor or academic dean. This automatic conversion to an “F” is no longer the case. Now, when submitting an “I,” instructors are asked to provide an alternate grade to be awarded in the event that a student does not complete work by the established deadline. The alternate grade may be determined in one of two ways: (1) the instructor designates an alternate grade of “F,” if the missing work is not submitted, or (2) the instructor assumes a grade of zero for all missing work and then calculates the student’s overall grade as it will be if the missing work is not submitted, and then designates that overall grade as the alternate grade.

If the student fails to submit the missing work by the established deadline, the Office of the University Registrar will then post the alternate grade previously reported.

If the student submits the missing work by the established deadline, and the student’s grade is as a result different from the alternate grade previously reported, the instructor should issue a different final grade to the Registrar’s Office. If the instructor does not issue a different final grade, the Office of the University Registrar will then post the alternate grade previously reported.


Students should feel free to meet with instructors to ask questions about their performance on the exam and about the accuracy of the grade assigned. However, University policy allows grade changes only in the cases of errors in calculation or in transcription. If you are pressured by students to improve their grade, refer them to their academic dean or to the official policy statement below.

Grade Changes: It is important to note that with the exception of "I" grades and "X" grades, changes in grades may be made only because of an error in calculation or an error in transcription. Changes in grades may not be based on the late submission of required work, the re-submission of work previously judged unsatisfactory, or on additional work. No changes may be made in a grade after the end of the semester following the one for which the grade was assigned, although cases of error discovered after the deadline may be appealed by the student or the instructor to the Office of the Provost. The purposes of these regulations are to promote accurate record keeping and careful grade reporting, and to protect instructors from student pressure. The procedures vary slightly in the School of Law.

The University requires that changes in grades other than those designated by "I" or "X" be requested in a letter written on departmental stationery, signed by the instructor, and mailed directly to the University Registrar. Grade change requests may not be delivered by the student. The letter should contain the name of the student, the course and section number, the incorrect grade, and the correct grade. The letter must also state that the reason for the change (see above).


In courses where no final examinations are scheduled, hourly tests may be given during the last week of classes but not during final exam week.


If a final examination is given, it must occur at the time designated in the final examination schedule. You may not change the date and the time of the final examination even if students in the class agree. No examination is to be given before 9:00 AM on Monday, April 30, 2018.


Take-home examinations may not require more than three hours of actual writing and are due at the designated time of the final examination based on the time period of the class.


Instructors are requested to retain all final examination papers for at least one year after the date the examination is given. Examination papers should be available for reference where a final grade is questioned. (See Chapter 6-7 of the Faculty Handbook.)

Your cooperation is greatly appreciated. Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions.

Sincerely yours,

Arlie O. Petters, Ph.D.
Dean of Academic Affairs for Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Benjamin Powell Professor of Mathematics
Professor of Physics and Economics