Final Exam Policies and Exam Prep Guidance for Spring 2021

New Take-Home Exam Policy and Exam Prep Guidance for Spring 2021

Remote learning has led to an important change in the administration of take-home exams. This spring, take-home exams may be taken at any point during the exam period (May 6-May 14). This means you will have more flexibility in planning your take-home exam schedule. Registrar-scheduled exams, by contrast, must be taken in the 3-hour block scheduled by the Registrar. 

In order to make the most of your Reading and Exam Period, use the guidance below--and any provided by your course instructors. When in doubt consult with your instructor or residential college Dean or Director of Studies. 

Registrar-Scheduled Exams

Take-Home Exams

  • Any exam not scheduled by the Registrar
  • May be self-scheduled at any point during the final exam period (May 6th-14th, 2021)
  • Length of exam defined by the instructor; exam should not exceed 8 hours.

Advice & Best Practices

Planning & Scheduling

  • Gather and write down in one place information about opening, working on and submitting exams for ALL of your courses. 
  • Check your exam schedule well in advance, so that you know when any Registrar-scheduled exams are scheduled.
  • Get information about ALL your exams before planning your studying for any of them.
  • Do NOT leave all of your self-scheduled exams to the end of the exam period—fatigue and diminished efficiency will likely harm your performance.
  • Use McGraw’s Dean’s Date and Finals Period calendar to effectively plan, optimize your performance and avoid unnecessary problems.  

Studying & Exam Preparation

Upholding Academic Integrity

  • Communicate with your instructors about their expectations for your exams: What resources are you allowed to consult? (For example, If your exam is “open note,” do your notes contain online resources or other student notes that need to be cited?) How long may you spend on your take-home exams? 
  • Do NOT discuss the format, content, or difficulty level of any of your exams with any other students until the exam period has concluded.


Reading Period and Final Exam Planning Resource Spring 2021

Be systematic and strategic in how you approach Dean’s Date and Finals Period, using McGraw resources (and other) on exam prep, planning, and other topics.

  • Enter due dates and exam dates into the calendar so you can work backwards from them in your planning. Make a schedule to guide your studying, dividing up material/tasks into smaller, more manageable units.
  • Enter start dates and specific milestones (e.g. “have draft done” or “reviewed all lectures”) into the calendar to keep you on schedule.
  • While it is tempting to work on or study for one course at a time, consider interleaving your studying for multiple courses. For instance, even if your focus some days is on writing a paper due prior to an exam, spend a limited amount of time (say an hour) each day studying for your first exam after Dean’s Date.
  • Recognize that you will probably get tired, and that fatigue will decrease your studying efficiency—so plan accordingly.
  • Utilize course and other (e.g. McGraw, study groups) resources strategically. To get the most out of review sessions, for example, schedule study time BEFORE a review session or office hours, so you can ask specific questions, etc.
  • Review is less useful exam prep than practice, so whenever possible practice on the kinds of questions, problems and tasks you’ll be asked to do on the exam—under exam conditions, if possible.
  • When studying for an exam, resist the temptation to “go over all course content from the beginning” and instead focus first on what is most important in the course and/or your knowledge gaps to ensure you spend time on top priorities and don’t run out of time to study them.
  • Use past/practice exams to identify what kinds of questions will be asked, what you should study, and as a diagnostic to see how prepared you are. Analyze returned midterms to guide your studying as well.
  • Ask your professor, preceptor, learning consultant or tutor for advice on HOW to study, not just what to study. See Principedia and video recordings of McGraw workshops on studying and exam prep as well.

PDF icon new_take-home_exam_policy_and_exam_prep_guidance_for_spring_2021.pdf -- For additional Resources, Handouts, and Advice visit McGraw's Learning Library.

Princeton Writing Program

Do you want advice on exam writing? The Writing Center will consult with you on take-home exams if you provide written permission from your instructor