All students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the deferred examination policy. Below are the guidelines for deferred examinations as established by the Administrative Board.
1. Deferred examination requests will NOT be granted for the following reasons:
a) Employment reasons
b) Travel/vacation/social plans
c) Bar review courses
d) Conflicts with a class at another school.
e) Exams that are scheduled within a short time period, except as explained below in Section IV(B)(2).
f) Medical problems that do not seriously interfere with immediate pre-exam preparation or the student’s ability to take the exam on the scheduled exam day.
g) Airline flights and schedules; students are expected to plan their travel accordingly.
Note: The Administrative Board does not approve deferment for research opportunities, clinical experiences (other than as described in Section IV(B)(2)(a)(iii) below, school-sponsored trips or classes.
2. Deferred examination requests may be granted in limited circumstances as explained below:
a) To request deferment under the following circumstances (Sections IV(B)(2)(a)(i-v) below), students should submit a letter or email to the Office of the Registrar at least two weeks prior to the exam, giving the reason, name of exam, and exam date appearing on the exam schedule. Students should not communicate with faculty prior to the exam period regarding need for an exam deferral as this will jeopardize anonymity and is a violation of the School’s exam policies.
i. Where a student has two Harvard Law School examinations scheduled on the same day, one exam will be deferred by one business day.
ii. Where a student has three Harvard Law School examinations scheduled during the exam period on three consecutive days, the exam scheduled on the third day will be deferred by one business day.
iii. Religious observance conflict. A student who cannot take an exam at the time scheduled for religious reasons will be allowed to take it at a different time as arranged by the Office of the Registrar.
iv. Unavoidable conflicts with court hearings or other administrative proceedings connected to the Clinical Programs. The student must exhaust all means of avoiding the conflict by attempting to reschedule the hearing or attempting to arrange coverage of the hearing by another qualified student or attorney.
v. Conflicts with an exam in a cross-registered course (e.g., Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School); on a showing that the other school will not move the exam, the Law School exam will be deferred.
b) To request deferment under the following circumstances (Sections IV(B)(2)(b)(i-vi) below), students should contact the Dean of Students:
i. Illness of Student: Documentation of illness must be provided for review by Student Support Services. Documentation can be provided by the student’s personal doctor or by visiting Harvard University Health Services (HUHS). In cases of medical deferment, the student will be required to take the exam as soon as the student is medically able to according to the doctor’s assessment, and in accordance with HLS’s exam administration schedule.
ii. Death or serious illness of a person in the immediate family or other person with whom the student has a similarly close relationship, which requires the student’s attention away from the Law School during the exam period.
iii. Personal emergency that interferes with an exam or immediate pre-exam preparation.
iv. Delivery of child that interferes with an exam or immediate pre-exam preparation (applies to either parent).
v. Unavoidable military commitment.
vi. Educational opportunities that are deemed extraordinary by the Administrative Board, such as participation as a speaker in a conference or paper presentation outside of the Cambridge area.
3. Procedure for requesting a deferred examination
a) Requests to defer exams under 2(b) as outlined above must be made to Student Support Services in the Dean of Students Office as soon as the student is aware of a potential scheduling problem, no later than two weeks prior to the first scheduled exam, except in emergencies that arise closer to the date of the exam.
b) In order to protect the security of the exam, individual exams are never moved to an earlier date; rescheduling is made to the earliest time possible after the exam was scheduled to take place. Exams will not be deferred beyond the exam period except under extraordinary circumstances as deemed appropriate by the Dean of Students Office.
c) Exams are deferred only as long as necessary to minimize the conflict or alleviate the reason for deferment. Exams will not be deferred for a longer period, even if this creates an inconvenience for the student based on other plans. Under no circumstances will exams be deferred for a period longer than ten business days beyond the close of the exam period for the term. Certain exams are not published in the Law School’s exam archive and require high security; these exams will be given only at Harvard Law School under proctored conditions.
d) Deferments based on medical reasons must always be processed through the Dean of Students Office, as described above. An exam will be deferred only if HUHS or a personal doctor certifies it necessary for medical reasons. In cases where matters may be facilitated by direct discussion between HUHS and the Dean of Students Office the student should sign a release in the HUHS giving his or her permission for such discussion to take place, and the student should be informed in advance of the content of such communication. A release is required whether for verbal or written communication in these instances. All exam deferral requests are considered on a case-by-case basis taking into account a clinician’s recommendation, and HLS exam policies.
4. Disability or Medically-related Accommodations
Special arrangements to take exams with disability-related accommodations, may be made in the case of previously identified disability or serious medical circumstances, with advance consultation with Student Support Services in the Dean of Students Office. Information about registering for disability-related accommodations can be found at the Student Support Services website.