4.7 Examinations and Grades - Capital University Law School

4.7 Examinations and Grades

  • 4.7.01 Examinations, Quizzes, and Papers

    A. The instructor of a regular class has the option to have a closed-book in-class exam, an open-book in-class exam, a closed-book take-home exam, an open-book take¬-home exam, a paper, or any combination of these. Timed, in-class final exams given at the termination of the course traditionally are the sole or primary basis for grades in required courses and heavy-demand electives, such as Business Associations I and II, Secured Transactions, Payment Systems, Decedents' Estates, Estates and Trusts, and Criminal Procedure.

    B. Mid-term examinations and quizzes may be given in any course at the discretion of the instructor. Papers may be required in addition to or in lieu of examinations in upper-class electives.

    C. Instructors of seminars, practicums, and clinics typically do not give final examinations. Seminars require students to submit law-review quality papers of substantial length. Practicums require students to participate in several projects; e.g., simulations or planning papers.

    D. If faculty members are directing students in lengthy research projects, they should not indicate to students that the written product will satisfy the upper-class writing requirement until approved by the Academic Affairs Committee. Only full-time Law School personnel may direct projects which will satisfy this requirement.
  • 4.7.02 Scheduling of Examinations

    A. In-class examinations are scheduled during the examination period. Each instructor is responsible for administering his or her own exam unless he or she made prior arrangements through student services for a proctor.

    B. Students in courses with in-class exams take the exam at the time scheduled, with two exceptions:

    1. In case of an exam conflict, which is defined as two or more examinations with beginning times within a 24 hour period. The Dean or Dean's delegate determines if such a conflict exists. A student cannot re-schedule an exam until the Dean or Dean's delegate has provided the instructor with written notice that a conflict exists.

    2. Illness, documented physical or learning disability, or a compelling and unforeseen reason.

    C. Make-up Examinations

    1. Only the Dean or Dean's delegate can give permission for a student to take an exam at a time other than at the time scheduled, and only the Dean or Dean's delegate decides when the make-up exam will be administered. Individual faculty members do not make "side" arrangements with students.

    2. Once it is determined that a make-up exam is appropriate, the Dean or Dean's delegate will schedule the make-up exam, giving due consideration to the reasons why a make-up is necessary. The goal is to administer the make-up exam as close as possible to the time that the exam is regularly scheduled. The law school is willing to make reasonable accommodations when necessary, but the time of the make-up is determined by the law school, not by the student. Therefore, to the extent possible, the make-up exam will be scheduled at a time as soon as possible after the time that the exam is regularly scheduled. Students needing to sit for a make-up exam may have to take that exam on a Saturday or Sunday, or during hours during which the student normally is employed.
  • 4.7.03 Administration of Examinations

    A. Instructors cannot excuse students from taking exams at the regularly scheduled time for any reason. Only the Dean or Dean's delegate can approve student requests to reschedule examinations.

    B. If examinations are scheduled for a fixed period of time [three (3) hours are typical], the instructor should not permit some or even all students to have extra time, except in cases of disability as approved by the Dean or Dean's delegate. To give some or all students extra time creates at least a perception that those who carefully budget their time are put at an unfair disadvantage, while those who do not budget their time are rewarded. Once a time limit is determined and announced, changes should not be made.

    C. It is wise for faculty members, at the beginning of the exam, to orally notify students of the number of questions on the exam and the number of pages in the exam booklet. This will usually prevent situations where students later claim that they forgot to read the last question, or forgot to look at the last page. If the instructor permits students who claim to have missed a question to subsequently answer that question at another sitting, it creates an appearance of unfairness to students who read the entire exam, followed instructions, budgeted their time and finished the exam within the allotted time.

  • 4.7.04 Course Grades

    A. Regular courses, in which final examinations are given, are typically graded by examination only; i.e., the grade on the final examination is the grade for the course.

    1. Any deviation from this typical practice is communicated to students by means of a written syllabus at the beginning of the course. For example, if the final grade is based 50% on a final exam, 25% on paper, and 25% on class participation, students should be notified of this in advance.

    2. If grades are to be lowered for absences or lack of preparation, the notice to students should specifically indicate the maximum number of permitted instances of class absence or lack of preparation, and the precise consequences of the student's failure to comply. A statement such as "the instructor reserves the right to lower grades for excessive absence" is not sufficient notice. Permissible is a statement such as "the student's grade will be lowered by one grade (e.g., C+ to C or C- to D) for each instance of unpreparedness or absence in excess of four. "

    B. Seminar grades typically are determined by assigning a grade to the single paper written by the student. Any deviation from this typical practice is communicated to the student by written syllabus at the beginning of the semester or summer term. (See Section 4.7.04(A)(1)).

    C. Practicum grades typically are determined by assigning grades to each paper, project, activity, or simulation engaged in by the student, and then by "averaging" all grades thus assigned, on an equal basis. Any deviation from this typical practice is communicated to students by a written syllabus at the beginning of the semester or summer term. (See Section 4.7.04(A)(1)). In particular, if some projects or activities are to be weighted more heavily than others, the students will be notified of the weighing factors to be used.

    D. Grades are to be submitted to the Office of Records and Registration, who will communicate them to the students. Instructors do not announce the grades before the Office of Records and Registration does so.

    E. Grading on final examinations, mid-term examinations, and quizzes is done anonymously. The only academic activities not utilizing anonymous grading are those demanding close one-on-one interaction between professor and student, such as research papers, clinics, externships, law review, moot courts, etc.
  • 4.7.05 Value of Grades: Calculation of Grade Point Average

    A. The point value of grades is as follows: 



    Point Value  

    A 4.00
    A- 3.67
    B+ 3.33
    B 3.00
    B- 2.67
    C+ 2.33
    C 2.0
    C- 1.67
    D 1.00
    E 0.00
    S -
    U -

    B. The meaning of satisfactory and unsatisfactory

    1. Some courses based primarily on performance are graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis: Moot Court Teams, Mock Trial Team, Law Review I, Law Review II, Advanced Bar Studies and Externship.

    2. "Satisfactory" is defined as a level of performance that is deemed by the instructor to be minimally satisfactory or better and which, if graded, would earn the student a grade of C or above.

    3. "Unsatisfactory" is defined as a level of performance that is deemed by the instructor to be below the level of being minimally satisfactory and which, if graded, would earn the student a grade of C-, D, or E.

    C. Other Transcript Entries

    1. Students who transfer to Capital Law School credit for course work taken at (1) another school, (2) other Capital Law School programs taken elsewhere, (3) programs of Capital University academic units other than the law school, or (4) academic programs of other institutions, receive the designation of "K" on their transcript. Such credit will transfer to Capital and be counted towards graduation requirements only if the level of performance at the other program, unit, or institution earned the student a grade of C or higher.

    2. Some courses, such as Legal Writing I, II, and III are year-long courses in which a student earns no credit until he or she successfully completes the entire course. At the end of a semester in which the course has not ended, the student will receive the designation of "Y" on the transcript to indicate that the course is continuing and has not yet been completed by the instructor.

    3. A student's work may receive the temporary designation of "I" which means incomplete.

    j. Incompletes are given in limited circumstances when good cause is shown to the instructor in advance of the final examination or due date of other required work, or when, in emergency circumstances, the Dean or Dean's delegate approves this temporary designation.

    k. An incomplete is not a grade and must be removed within a reasonable period of time. An incomplete shall in all instances be removed within four (4) weeks of the end of a semester or summer term during which course work is taken unless, in extraordinary circumstances, an extension is approved both by the instructor and by the Dean or Dean's delegate.

    l. Upper class writing papers and independent research projects normally are subject to the due dates for grades as stated in the preceding paragraph, but the instructor may, if her or she feels that a student who is not scheduled to graduate that semester can benefit from further redrafting or has lost time because of unusual circumstances, allow the student an "incomplete" until the end of the fourth week after the second semester begins in the case of a fall paper or project, or until the end of the sixth week after the last exam in the case of a spring paper or project. Any further extension must have the permission of the Dean or Dean's delegate or Dean or Dean's delegate's delegate.

    D. Calculation of Grade Point Average

    1. The point average required to graduate is a 2.0.

    2. In determining a student's cumulative grade point average, his or her total accumulative points shall be divided by the number of hours attempted, excluding authorized withdrawals and courses for which grades or transcript entries of S, U, or K are awarded.

    3. A student receiving a grade of "E" (failed) in any course required for the Juris Doctor degree must repeat the course at the earliest possible opportunity.



  • 4.7.06 Grade Distribution and Median

    A. A meeting will be held in each semester by all Faculty members who teach first-year students. The meetings will be called by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at a date determined by him or her. Sufficient notice will be given to enable each faculty member to complete the grading process before the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the grades tentatively determined with the goal of achieving some degree of consistency. Grades will then be promptly submitted to the Office of Records and Registration, along with a distribution of the grades.

    B. A set of grades which is, in the opinion of the Dean, dramatically divergent from the norm, may call for consultation between the Dean and the Professor submitting them, before the grades are recorded. The purpose of this consultation will be to attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. This policy recognizes that, in the case of grades that are alleged to be arbitrary or discriminatory, the grade appeal process may be pursued by aggrieved students.

    C. Although the norm will vary over time, below is a guideline showing how first year grades should be distributed:
    Grade          Range                Average
    A 6 - 10% 8%
    A- 8 - 12% 10%
    B+ 15 - 21% 18%
    B 17 - 23% 20% (average 2.73)
    B- 9 - 15% 12%
    C+ 7 - 13% 10%
    C 4 - 10% 7%
    C- 3 - 7% 5%
    D 5 - 9% 7%
    E 0 - 5%  

    D. While no policy exists for classes beyond the first year, below is the typical grade average and distribution for heavy demand upper-class courses such as Civil Procedure I and II, Evidence, Business Associations I and II, Secured Transactions, Payment Systems, Trusts and Future Interests, Decedents' Estates, and Federal Personal Income Taxation:

    [There are no typical grade averages and distributions for heavy demand elective courses. However, the grade average should be approximately 2.82. The distributions should be somewhat higher than those first-year courses mentioned above.]
    Faculty members, both full-time and adjunct, who discover that the grades they propose to give are far from the norms described above, are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Associate Dean prior to the submission of grades to the Office of Records and Registration. 
  • 4.7.07 Grade Changes by the Instructor

    After an instructor has submitted final grades to the Office of Records and Registration, the instructor cannot change any grades except on the basis of mathematical or computational error. If such an error is discovered, the instructor should fill out a "change of grade" form, which is available from the Office of Records and Registration. The form includes space for the instructor to recite the precise reason for the grade change. The Associate Dean must approve the change before it becomes effective. 
  • 4.7.08 Administrative and Faculty Review of Unreasonable Grades

    A. Procedure

    1. When a student believes that he or she has received a grade that no reasonable faculty member could justify under any reasonable standard, that student may, within 30 days of receipt of the grade, file a petition to have the allegedly unreasonable grade reviewed. Students who are academically dismissed must file the petition within ten days after the date of mailing of his or her formal notice of dismissal. If, through no fault of the student, the student is prevented from meeting the deadline, the deadline shall be extended for a period of ten days after the reason for the inability to meet the deadline no longer exists.

    2. The petition should be submitted to the Associate Dean. If the petition concerns a grade given by the Associate Dean, the petition should be submitted to the chair of the Faculty Grade Review Committee. The person to whom the petition is properly submitted will determine, after investigation, whether the petition states sufficient grounds to believe that a grade change may be warranted and to convene the Faculty Grade Review Committee. A decision by the appropriate person that the petition does not set forth sufficient grounds to review the allegedly unreasonable grade is final and may not be appealed in any fashion. If the person to whom the petition is properly submitted determines that there are sufficient grounds to convene the Faculty Grade Review Committee, that committee will review the grade.

    3. The Faculty Grade Review Committee shall be composed of three tenured full professors who shall serve on a rotating and staggered basis for three grade reviews, with one member being replaced after each review. The member hearing his or her third review shall chair the committee for that review.

    B. Standards: There are two principal grounds for review of a grade:

    1. Mathematical or computational error. This is a rare basis since the faculty member already has the authority to change a grade based on mathematical or computational error. Mathematic or computational error does not include an allegation of an error in evaluation; see (3) below.

    2. Arbitrary grade. If in the reviewer's judgment there has been a grade assignment that a reasonable faculty member could not justify under any reasonable standard, the grade is deemed to be arbitrary. There is an extremely strong presumption of validity of the assigned grade, and a grade is not arbitrary merely because different persons might evaluate the work differently. "Arbitrary" does include allegations that the grade bears no demonstrable relation to the quality of the work, that the grade was computed in a manner substantially different from that announced in the syllabus, or that the grade was maliciously motivated by impermissible or illegal factors such as racism or sexism. In the case of a finding of departure from the manner of computation described in the syllabus, the normal disposition is to return the matter to the professor for grading in accordance with the standard promulgated.

    3. Review of grades does not mean re-grading. Grades will not be reviewed merely because a student believes that his or her work should have been given a higher grade than it in fact was given. No two professors ever grade exactly alike, and differences in grading styles and results are not per se arbitrary.