Examinations and Grades

Policies on Examinations


The following policies represent an understanding between faculty and student concerning an important but often stressful period, especially at the conclusion of each academic semester and at mid-semester. There should be no expectation that the following points will cover every conceivable situation. The student should anticipate the demands of the exam schedule, plan accordingly and early, and be prepared. The faculty should recognize that the student is encumbered with many tightly orchestrated and intensive obligations during this period over which he or she has no control: expectations should be reasonably consistent with the number of course units and, of course, should be made known to the student well in advance of the final examination period, preferably as part of the course syllabus.

In order to help students plan their time and study optimally for examinations, this document lays out in some detail the policies regarding final and in-term examinations. Instructors are requested to provide notification of the major in-term examinations in the course syllabus. The final examination date is posted early in the semester. It is the responsibility of the student to give his or her instructor sufficient notice and to work with the instructor to reschedule examinations if this is needed.


  • NYU Shanghai’s official final examination period begins on the reading day immediately following the last day of classes and continues through the last day of scheduled final examinations, with the exception of reading day(s).
  • Scheduled final examinations are those scheduled by the Registrar. An instructor may choose not to fix a schedule for final examination, but instead allow each student to choose the examination time; such exams are called self-scheduled examinations.
  • Final examinations can either be comprehensive, covering all course materials, or non-comprehensive, covering only a part of the course.
  • Major examinations during the semester are referred to here as in-term examinations.

In-term Examinations

In-term exams may only occur during regularly scheduled class hours. This means that exams may not run longer than the regular class period for the course and that instructors may not schedule alternative exam times. It is possible to administer an exam that takes longer than scheduled class times if the instructor divides the test into two parts and students take them over different class dates.

The only exception to the in-term testing policy is for students with registered academic accommodations that cause them to need additional time for tests.

Final Examinations

  1. All scheduled final examinations are held at the end of the semester during NYU Shanghai’s official final examination period. The last day of a class is not normally used for a final examination. Comprehensive final examinations are not required for each course, but are given at the option of the instructor. The reading day and weekend preceding the examination days are not used for examination purposes of any kind, unless a student chooses (and the instructor agrees) to take a self-scheduled examination during this time. Non-comprehensive final examinations or final projects (but not both) are allowed during this final examination period only in courses that do not give a final comprehensive examination.
  2. Instructors return all work assigned no later than the last regular day of classes in courses for which there is a final examination. In cases when this is not possible, an answer key, solution sets or equivalent feedback should be provided unless the final examination will not cover material in work that has not been returned.
  3. No other coursework, including laboratory or studio work, will be due during the final examination period unless it is assigned in advance and in lieu of the course’s final examination. Regardless of whether there is a final examination in the course, no classes other than review sessions are held during the final examination period. Review sessions are scheduled for optimal attendance, and a serious effort should be made to accommodate students who cannot attend. In appreciation of the time required to prepare for final examinations, no other examinations, portfolio reviews, critiques or juries shall be scheduled for the last class day of a course with a final examination.
  4. Instructors do not exert or submit to pressures to move an examination so that students can leave earlier nor pressure students to take an examination on a reading day or weekend preceding the final examinations period.
  5. No student is required to take more than two scheduled final examinations during a 24-hour period. A student who has more than two final examinations scheduled during a 24-hour period or has two final examinations scheduled at the same time should first contact the instructors of the courses for assistance in resolving conflicts. If the problem cannot be resolved by that means, the student should contact the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs.
  6. Students are expected to present themselves at the place assigned at the start of the examination; late arrival will reduce the total time a student has to complete the examination, unless the instructor’s course policy indicates otherwise. Instructors reserve the right to require attendance within a specific time period. Students who miss an examination with a reasonable excuse and wish to petition for a make-up final examination should check with the instructor.
  7. Any student may review his or her corrected, graded final examination in the presence of an instructor or a teaching assistant. Any controversy arising from this review is dealt with in accordance with NYU Shanghai procedure for the appeal of grades and academic actions. A final examination that is not returned to a student will be kept available until the end of the next semester for review. In the event that the instructor or teaching assistant is not available for the review, the responsibility shall rest with the major leader of the instructor offering the course or his or her designee. Since instructors return all work assigned before the final examinations, they are not responsible for retaining unclaimed coursework.
  8.  Concerns related to a final examination, complaints about violations of the final examination policy or alterations of the final examination schedule should be directed to the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs.

NYU Shanghai Student Guidelines for Taking Exams

NYU Shanghai has developed the guidelines below for in-class tests worth 10% or more of the final grade in a class so that students will share a uniform test-taking experience that creates a quiet, less stressful, and fair test site.

  1. Tests that are worth more than 10% of the final grade will be held in a room or rooms that provide at least twice as many seats as students enrolled in the class.
  2. Students follow an assigned seating chart for the test that randomizes the classroom and seating assignments for students. Students are seated in every other seat so that they are not in close proximity to others taking the same exam.
  3. The tests are pre-marked with each student’s name and assigned seat.
  4. Students should arrive at the classroom at least 5 minutes before the exam starts.
  5. Students must leave their backpacks/purses/ bags/laptops at the front of the room – taking with them to their seat only something to write with (no pencil cases are allowed). If other materials are permitted, the instructor will inform the proctors of specifically what is allowed.
  6. Students must leave all hats, coats, and jackets at the front of the room as well. Students who normally wear scarfs for faith or cultural reasons may do so but must alter to expose ears.
  7. An unlabeled bottle of water is permissible; food/gum/candy is not.
  8. Any student who is not taking the exam should not be in the test room.
  9. Proctors are not responsible for supplying any test-taking materials (pencils, calculators, etc.) to students who have arrived unprepared for the exam.
  10.  All mobile phones should be switched off and left at the front of the room, so that students do not have access to them during the exam. If a student is found with their mobile phone with them during the exam, this will be considered a violation of the exam guidelines.
  11. A quiet test environment must be maintained. Students are not allowed to speak to each other (even to request to borrow a pencil from another student). If students need to speak, they should raise their hand and wait for the proctor to come over to them and help them with whatever question or problem they have.
  12. The start time and finish time will be written on the board at the front of the room. The proctor should update the time remaining (in 15 minutes intervals) throughout the exam on the board so that students may gauge their progress and manage their time during the exam.
  13. Any student arriving late will be permitted to take the exam, but they must finish at the prearranged time and will not be given any extra time.
  14. Students must sit in their assigned seat with their named test. They have to show a proctor their NYU Shanghai University ID if asked.
  15. Students in the wrong test room must go to the correct test room even if that means they start the test late.
  16. Students cannot move their seat. There needs to be enough space between seats so that the purpose of the every other seat protocol is met.
  17. Bathroom breaks are permitted only in what the proctor deems is an emergency. When permitted, the back-up/relief proctor will escort the student to and from the bathroom. When this is not possible, the proctor will note the time that the student left the exam room, and when they returned.
  18. If a student finishes an exam early, they may leave the room once they have turned in their exam papers. They will not be readmitted once this occurs.
  19. In the last 15 minutes of the exam, the remaining time left will be updated in 5 minute intervals.
  20.  Once time is up, the exam is finished and students must stop working. The proctor will make a note of individuals who did not stop working when told to and report this to the instructor.
  21. All exam materials (answer sheets, scratch paper, test question paper) are to be collected by the proctor. Students should not leave the room with any test materials.

Penalties for Students Violating the Protocols

  • The penalty for the first violation of test protocols (sitting in wrong seat, in possession of non-approved test taking materials, talking, failure to show their NYU Shanghai University ID when requested, etc.) is a letter grade reduction on exam.
  • Additional violations or refusal to comply with protocols will lead to additional penalties.
  • Test protocol penalties are independent of, and in addition to, penalties for academic integrity violations. Both types of penalties are applied in as confidential a manner as circumstances permit.

Makeup Examinations

When examinations are missed because of illness, students are expected to notify professors in advance of the exam, if at all possible. If the instructor grants an excused absence or if a student has a recommended accommodation for a makeup examination from the NYU Moses Center for Student Accessibility (see “Students With Disabilities” section), then the student must arrange a makeup examination with the professor prior to the last day of the semester. The time and place of any makeup examinations are set by the instructor or the major area head. If the student is unable to sit for a final examination during the semester and requires a grade of incomplete, see below policy under “grades” and “incompletes.”


Students may obtain their final grades for each semester on Albert.

The following symbols indicating grades are used: A, B, C, D, P, F, and W. The following symbol indicates incomplete work: I. Only grades of A, B, C, D, or F earned in any NYU course while matriculated in NYU Shanghai, or earned in any of NYU Shanghai’s courses (courses suffixed by “-SH”) while matriculated in another division of NYU, are computed in the average. The following grades may be awarded: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, F. In general, A indicates excellent work, B indicates good work, C indicates satisfactory work, and D indicates passable work and is the lowest passing grade. F indicates failure. The weights assigned in computing the grade point average are as follows:

Grades Earned in Fall 2018 and Later

Grade Grade Points
A 4.000
A- 3.667
B+ 3.333
B 3.000
B- 2.667
C+ 2.333
C 2.000
C- 1.667
D+ 1.333
D 1.000
F 0.000

Grades Earned Prior to Fall 2018 and Earlier

Grade Grade Points
A 4.0
A- 3.7
B+ 3.3
B 3.0
B- 2.7
C+ 2.3
C 2.0
C- 1.7
D+ 1.3
D 1.0
F 0.0

Courses for major, minor, or core requirements must be taken on an A-F grading scale. Courses may not be used to meet major or minor requirements or as prerequisites for more advanced classes unless a grade of C or higher is earned. This means that Grades of P, C- or lower may not be used to meet major or minor requirements or as a prerequisite for more advanced courses (see “Pass/Fail Option” for more details).

Computing the Grade Point Average

The grade point average can be obtained by determining the total of all grade points earned (quality points) and dividing that figure by the total number of credit hours completed (quality hours). For example: A student who has completed 8 points of A (4.0), 4 points of B (3.0), and 4 points of C (2.0) has a grade point average of 3.25. This is obtained by adding 8 (points of A) x 4.0 (point value of A), 4 (points of B) x 3.0 (point value of B), and 4 (points of C) x 2.0 (point value of C), which totals 52 (the total of all grade points earned), and then by dividing 52 by 16 (the total number of credit hours completed). This gives the grade point average of 3.25.

Policies on Assigned Grades

Once a final grade has been submitted by the instructor and recorded on the transcript, the final grade cannot be changed by turning in additional coursework.

To appeal an assigned grade (only final semester grades are assigned grades, midterm and individual assignment and paper grades are not appealable) the student should first consult with the instructor who assigned the grade to discuss the grading requirements for the course and how the grade was determined. If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of the discussion and wishes to appeal the grade further, a formal written appeal should be submitted to the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs within one month of the date the grade was posted. An independent review of the grade will be undertaken. All of the student’s work will be eligible for review to clarify how the grade was determined and to ensure the grade is consistent with academic guidelines and policies. The result of the appeal may be that the grade is lowered, raised, or stays the same. The decision of Academic Affairs in matters related to a course grade is final.

In the case of a course that has been repeated, both grades are recorded on the transcript and averaged together to be computed in the grade point average.

The grades for courses taken abroad in one of NYU’s programs or at one of the exchange sites are recorded on the transcript and are also included in the grade point average. The grades for graduate courses taken at other divisions in the University are included in the grade point average, provided that permission to enroll is obtained prior to registration for the courses.
Not included in the undergraduate grade point average are grades for work done at institutions outside NYU’s global network.

Grade of P

The grade of P (Pass) indicates a passing grade (A, B, C, or D) in a course taken under the pass/fail option. It is also used to indicate non-graded courses. The grade of P is not computed in the average. The grade of F under the pass/fail option is computed in the average. For more information and procedures to obtain the pass/fail option, see end of this section under “Pass/Fail Option.”

Grade of W

The grade of W indicates an official withdrawal of the student from a course in good academic standing. Please see “Change of Program” and “Withdrawing from Courses” for information on the regulations and procedures for withdrawing officially from courses.

Grade of I

The grade of I (Incomplete) is a temporary grade that indicates that the student has, for good reason, completed all but a single requirement or a small amount of the course work, and that there is the possibility that the student will eventually pass the course when all of the requirements have been completed. A student must ask the instructor for a grade of I, clarify the remaining course requirements with the instructor, and receive approval from the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs.

The Incomplete grade is not awarded automatically. It is not used when there is no possibility that the student will eventually pass the course. If the course work is not completed and a grade submitted by the course instructor before the statutory time for making up incompletes has elapsed, the temporary grade of I becomes an F or the default grade indicated by the instructor and is computed in the student’s grade point average.

Grade Policy for Incompletes

Grades of incomplete must be resolved by the end of the following matriculated academic semester (fall/ spring). Incomplete grades awarded by other NYU Schools/ programs follow those school-based policies.
NYU Shanghai follows the Office of Global Programs policy regarding incomplete grades and study away admission. Incomplete (I) grades on students’ transcript must be resolved before an admissions decision for study away can be made.

Independent Study

Some majors offer independent study courses for students with exceptional qualifications. In these courses, the work is planned specifically for each student. Independent studies should build on previous course work, not replace existing courses, and may not substitute for required major courses or required core curriculum requirements. With prior approval they may count for general elective, minor, or major elective requirements.

Independent study courses allow the student to work independently with faculty supervision and counsel. The courses typically carry variable credit of 2 or 4 credits each term. They are normally limited to upper-class majors but may be open to other well-qualified upper-class students. To register for an independent study, a student must complete an independent study form and obtain the approval of all relevant faculty and the Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs.

The result of the independent study course should be a paper or other objective, tangible evidence of completion of the work. In general, students are not permitted to take more than 12 credits of independent study during their four years, and no more than 8 credits may be taken in any one major. More specific information can be found by speaking with your academic advisor.

Pass/Fail Option

Students may elect one pass/fail option each term, including the summer sessions, for a total of not more than 32 credits during their college career. The choice must be made before the completion of the 9th week of the term (fourth week of a six-week summer session); after that time, the decision cannot be initiated or changed. No grade other than P or F will be recorded for those students choosing this option. P includes the grades of A, B, C, and D and is not counted in the grade point average. F is counted in the grade point average.

The pass/fail option is not acceptable in coursework in fulfillment of requirements toward a major, minor, prerequisites for more advanced coursework, or the Core Curriculum requirements. Students considering the pass/fail option in their area of study or in required preprofessional courses should consult with their advisor about the effect of such grades on admission to graduate and professional schools. Students who change their majors may not be able to use courses taken under the pass/ fail option to satisfy the requirements of their new majors. The form for declaring the pass/fail option may be obtained from the NYU Shanghai Advising or Registrar’s website.

Chinese language (through Intermediate II) and English for Academic Purposes courses cannot be taken P/F. Courses in other languages and Advanced Chinese classes can be taken P/F but grades of C or higher must be earned for prerequisite to advance to higher level courses. Grades of P will not fulfill language course prerequisites.


The NYU Shanghai Academic Standards Committee will consider petitions of students to waive graduation requirements or modify academic policies and regulations of NYU Shanghai. Students should be aware that only very exceptional cases, supported by valid and documented reasons, will be considered. After deliberation, the Committee’s decisions on such matters are final. Petition instructions may be obtained from the Office of Academic Advising.