Grading Rules and Procedures
Requirements for Written Evaluation Instrument: The final grade in each course offered at the School of Law must be based at least in part upon one or more of the following forms of written accountability selected at the discretion of the instructor: an examination conducted at the end of the course, examinations or exercises given at other times during the course, or a substantial research paper. Satisfaction of the requirements of special courses such as publications, competitions, externships, Legal Writing, or clinical courses may require other activities or submissions. (AR 105)
Additional Evaluation Requirements: In addition, the final grade in any course may be based on factors such as class attendance, class discussion, participation in activities of a professional nature related to the subject matter of the course, or oral examination. Distinguished class participation may be the basis for increasing the grade awarded in a course. (AR 105)
Notice of Evaluation Requirements: By the beginning of each semester or term, the instructor will make students reasonably aware of how the final grade for each course will be calculated. (AR 105)
Assignment of Examination Numbers: All students are assigned a 4-digit midterm exam number and a 5-digit final exam number each semester, which may be accessed by logging into Piperline, then clicking on the following links sequentially: Student Services; Registration; Student Detail Schedule; and the term for which the exam number is sought. Exam numbers are listed below total credit hours at the top of that page. Exam numbers are generated shortly after the start of term.
Anonymous Grading: All written examinations at Hamline Law must be graded anonymously. Faculty will read and grade exams without knowing the exam-writer’s identity, and grades will be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by examination number. (AR 105) The following describes the procedures for ensuring anonymity of grading:
Student Responsibilities for Anonymity: Each student shall identify him or herself by exam number (not his or her name or student ID number) for any written exam. Unless otherwise explicitly instructed, students must use their exam numbers to identify all examination materials (examination questions, examination answers, multiple choice answer sheets, scratch paper, etc.) Students who encounter a problem during a scheduled, self-scheduled or take home examination must not contact their professors to discuss it, but should contact the Office of the Registrar instead.
Whenever a student’s final course grade is based on assignments graded by name in addition to an anonymous exam(s), the instructor will work with the OTR to assure anonymity while computing the final course grade. The faculty has established the following alternative procedures for collating separate parts of the final grade:
- Faculty may submit the scores for the exams by number and other scores by name, and request the OTR to calculate the final course grade based on the instructor’s assessment formula. (AR 105)
- Faculty may request that the Office of the Registrar provide the faculty member with adequate information to compute the final grade without violating anonymity. (AR 105) For example, the OTR may supply each faculty member with a list of final exam numbers correlated with mid-term exam numbers. If the identity of students who took mid-term examinations has remained anonymous throughout the course, the faculty member can collate the grades for the mid-term examinations and the final examination and enter a final grade on the grading sheet.
- Faculty may add a one-step grade bump for class participation during the online submission process.
Grade Changes After Instructor Learns of Student Identity: If the instructor prefers to know the students’ identities before incorporating assessment factors other than anonymously-graded examinations, the instructor can do so under strict limitations. Once a student’s identity is revealed, the instructor can only move the student’s grade up (and not down) by one gradation (e.g., from a “C+” to “B-“). (AR 105)
Paper Grading: Where a paper or other evaluation instrument is required in a course, the faculty member will designate whether these papers or instruments are to be graded anonymously or not, and whether students should utilize their mid-term or final examination numbers or their names to identify their evaluation instruments.
Grades Submitted–Finality: Once final grades are submitted for a particular course, they cannot be changed except for a computational error in calculating the grade or a clerical error in recording the grade. Computational or clerical errors do not include a subjective re-evaluation of the content of the student work (AR 105) A grade change submitted after rankings have been computed does not affect the student’s class rank for that term. (See Section 13.1 et seq.)
Conversion of a letter grade to a “Pass” (applies to JD students for courses beginning in the Spring Semester, 2013 or later): Subject to the following limitations, a JD student may elect to convert a letter grade in any non-required course, other than those designated by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs as not available for the pass option, to a “Pass” represented by a “P,” for “D-” or better work.
A student may only use the pass option to convert a letter grade to a “P” in one course during the student’s entire law school career.
To elect a grade conversion, a student must file a conversion request with the Office of the Registrar not later than 5 calendar days after his or her last grade is posted for the semester or term in which that course was offered.
Once the pass option has been exercised, the student cannot reverse that decision, even if hindsight proves that another choice would have been more beneficial.
Clinics and Trial Advocacy are not eligible for a Pass/No pass election.
Certificate students should be aware that the earned grade, rather than a Pass, may still be used to calculate the GPA required for certificate completion. Students should check with the relevant institute administrator to determine specific Institute policy.
Grade Equivalents and Computation
Grading Modes: Courses are graded either using letter A-F grading mode, or Pass/No-Pass grading mode. The grading mode is designated in the course description.
Numerical Grade Equivalents: Student transcripts record a letter grade for each course graded A-F. The following grades and numerical equivalents are used to calculate a grade point average.
||Points per Credit
Process for Calculating a Grade Point Average (GPA): Cumulative grade point average (GPA) is calculated by dividing the sum total of grade points earned by the sum total of GPA credit hours. Grade points (aka “quality points”) are computed by multiplying the numeric value associated with the corresponding letter grade by the credit value of each course (e.g., to determine the quality points for a grade of B in a 2-credit class, multiply 3.0 for the points value of B times 2 for the number of credits to get 6 quality points.) To determine GPA, total all of the quality points and divide by the total number of credits attempted for letter-graded courses.
Grades Not Included in the Grade Point Average (GPA): The following grades are not included in grade point averages. (AR 105)
- I–Incomplete. The student has not completed the requirements for the course but has been given an extension to complete the course by the instructor. See Section 11.3.4 and AR 105 for further information. This grade is also utilized for courses that span two semesters, such as Competitions.
- W–Withdrawn. The student has chosen not to complete the course and has withdrawn from the class between the end of the drop period and the last day of classes.
- P–Pass. The student receives credit for the course, but no grade is calculated into the GPA.
- AU–Audit. The student has been given the permission to participate in classroom sessions and perhaps other work, but not for academic credit. This grade is not available to a degree-seeking student.
- N–No Pass. The student was enrolled as a credit-seeking student in a Pass/No Pass course, but has not earned credit for the course and has not been given an incomplete.
- Z–Pending This is an administrative grade issued when the student has completed the coursework but the awarding of a final grade has been delayed.
Grades in courses that are taken outside the law school curriculum are not calculated into the grade point average, even though the grades for those courses are recorded on the transcript. This includes courses transferred from other law schools or other Hamline graduate programs, and non-Hamline study abroad, summer school, and J-term courses.
Courses Currently Graded With Pass/No Pass Grades: The following courses/credits are graded Pass/No-Pass; all other courses are presumptively graded using the standard grading mode.
- Journal of Public Law and Policy
- Law Review
- Legal Research and Writing Teaching Assistant
- Structured Study Group Leader
Special Rules Governing Course Grades
Failure to Take a Scheduled Examination: A student who does not take a scheduled examination will receive a grade of “F” for that examination, unless granted an emergency variance by the Assistant Dean for Students and Diversity.
For purposes of this rule, a student who has a self-scheduled final examination will be deemed to have failed to take the exam on schedule if he or she does not complete the examination by the last date of the self-scheduled examination period. Students should note that they are limited to taking two examinations per day during the examination period.
A student may not take an incomplete for an examination.
Failure to Submit Written Work on Schedule: Any student who does not turn in a required paper on the date scheduled by the instructor will receive a grade of “F” for that paper, unless properly excused by the instructor.
Failure to Meet Other Course Requirements: Failure to meet any course requirement can be the basis for a final grade of “F” in the class, unless properly excused by the instructor. This is true even if the course requirement is not graded or calculated into the grade point average.
For purposes of this rule, course requirements are those that are provided in the instructor’s syllabus by the first day of class or are later announced in writing or orally to all class members as a requirement that must be met to receive credit in the course. Oral announcements made in a scheduled class are deemed to be the equivalent of written announcements. Students are responsible for knowing the content of oral announcements, whether or not they have attended the class.
Basis for Issuing Incomplete Grades: Instructors may issue incomplete grades to students who have not completed all course requirements only in exceptional cases. (AR 105) Instructors and students must set a deadline for the completion of all course requirements. Permission to take an incomplete does not waive a course requirement. Incompletes cannot be given for exams.
Responsibility for Seeking Incomplete: Students are responsible for seeking an incomplete if they have a compelling reason for being unable to complete course requirements by the instructor’s due date. They must submit a Petition for Incomplete Grade form signed by the instructor. The incomplete will then be submitted to the Associate Dean for approval and recorded by the Office of the Registrar.
Deadline for Removal of Incompletes: All incomplete grades must be removed by the deadline set by the instructor, but in no event later than the end of the following academic semester. (AR 105) This rule may not be waived by the faculty member granting the incomplete. For purposes of this provision, a summer or J-term session is not considered an academic semester. (AR 105)
Sanction for Failure to Remove Incomplete: Failure to remove the Incomplete by the appropriate deadline will result in the grade being changed from an “I” to an “F.”
Grade Required for Credit to Be Given: A student has not successfully completed and will not receive credit for a course unless he or she receives a grade of “D-” or better. Students must earn a D- or better in a course for it to be counted as a prerequisite and in all courses required for graduation. (AR 105)
Grade Effect If Student Retakes a Course: A student may be required or permitted to retake a course, e.g., because the student received an “F” in a required course, as a condition of an exception to an academic dismissal, or as a condition of readmission following academic dismissal. If a student retakes a course for credit for any reason, both the grade from the first course and the grade from the re-take will appear on the transcript and both grades will be calculated into the student’s cumulative grade point average. (AR 105)
Credits Awarded if Student Retakes a Course: For purposes of meeting graduation requirements, including the 88 credit minimum to graduate, credit for a retaken course will be awarded only once. (AR 105)
Excused Failure to Take Scheduled Exam: A student shall not be excused from taking any examination on the date regularly scheduled except due to documented extremely exigent circumstances. “Extremely exigent circumstances” do not include conflicts with weddings, receptions, or similar special events; conflicts with travel plans or reservations; conflicts with employment plans, opportunities, or obligations; or the fact that a student must take examinations scheduled on sequential days or two examinations scheduled on the same day. This rule also applies to any anonymously-graded, non-final exam that counts towards the final course grade, so long as written notice of the exam date(s) (by syllabus, online posting, or otherwise) is provided by the first day of the course or the final day to drop the course, whichever is earlier.
Non-Excused Failure to Take Scheduled Exam: If the failure to take a scheduled examination is not excused, a student who does not take it will receive an “F” for the examination. If a student does not take a self-scheduled examination by the end of the self-scheduled examination period, the student will receive an “F” for the examination unless an emergency variance is granted by the Assistant Dean for Students and Diversity.
Excused Absences and Permission for Make-up Examinations: As soon as a student realizes that he or she cannot attend a scheduled examination or complete a self-scheduled examination by the end of the examination period due to extremely exigent circumstances, the student must request an emergency variance to make up the examination from the Assistant Dean for Students and Diversity. When time permits, students should use the variance request form.
If an emergency occurs, such as a serious illness, injury or accident within 24 hours before the examination, the student should contact both the Assistant Dean of Students and Diversity and the Office of the Registrar to notify them of the student’s need for a variance.
Make-up Exam Deadline: If the Assistant Dean or his or her designee excuses the student’s absence at an exam and/or gives approval for any examination to be made up, the student shall be required to take a make-up examination within two weeks from the date regularly scheduled for the examination or, for self-scheduled exams, within two weeks from the last day of the self-scheduled exam period. (AR 105)
Examination Accommodations: Students with documented disabilities who may require some type of reasonable classroom or exam accommodation should make a formal request for accommodation to the University Disability Resources Office. See the University Disability Accommodations policy at http://www.hamline.edu/policies/university-wide.html for more information. To ensure accommodation, the students should make this contact as early as possible.
Deadline for Variance Requests: Exam variances do not renew automatically. The student must request a variance each semester by the deadline published by the Assistant Dean for Student and Multicultural Affairs.
English as a Second Language (ESL) Variances
General Rules: Students for whom English is not their native language are eligible to receive an ESL variance if they meet the criteria below. Students seeking an ESL variance must make their request to the Assistant Dean for Students and Diversity as early as possible in the semester but not later than the published deadline.
Exam Accommodations: Eligible students are permitted 10 extra minutes per exam hour and the use of a bilingual dictionary.
Eligible Examinations: The ESL variance apples to any final examination, mid-term examination, or hourly examination required for completion of a Law School course that is administered under time constraints, including courses offered by the Dispute Resolution Institute, the Health Law Institute, and the Business Law Institute. The ESL variance does not apply to essays, papers, and take-home examinations
Criteria: Students are eligible for the ESL variance if they meet the following criteria:
- English is not the student’s first language;
- The student has completed fewer than 24 law school credits; and
- The student received an ESL accommodation on the LSAT or the student received a TOEFL score below 100.
Examination Accommodations, Religious Holidays: Students seeking an exam variance for a scheduled exam on religious grounds must petition the Assistant Dean for Student and Multicultural Affairs.
Other Examination Variances: Students seeking a variance on grounds other than disability, ESL or religious holidays must petition the Assistant Dean for Students and Diversity for a variance as soon as possible but, to ensure adequate levels of service, no later than the deadline for requesting implementation of exam variances as set by the Assistant Dean and, for emergency requests, in no circumstance later than the start time of the examination. See Examination Exceptions, above, on permitted and non-permitted reasons for receiving an examination variance.
Responsibility and Conduct for Examinations: Examinations will be governed by the Hamline Law Code of Conduct and administrative procedures established by the Dean’s Office and the Office of the Registrar.
NOTE: Any violation of the examination rules described below or provided for a particular examination may subject a student to an investigation under the Code of Conduct. The student’s statement that conduct was inadvertent will not be dispositive of whether a Code investigation will be initiated.
Examination Procedures Applicable to Both Scheduled and Self-Scheduled Examinations:
Preparing for the Exam: Students must report to the assigned exam room no later than ten minutes before the exam’s scheduled start time.
Materials and Devices for Closed Book Exams: Unless the written examination instructions indicate otherwise, students must place all belongings (except writing utensils, snacks, and medication) to the side or back of the room. During a closed book exam, students should not have books, notes, blank paper (scratch paper and bluebooks will be provided) calculators, phones, electronic devices of any other kind, purses, backpacks, briefcases, etc. within reach. Scratch paper will be provided; students should not write on it before the exam starts. Items with writing or graphics of any kind, including notes that the student has made to him or herself before the start of the examination, should not be visible to the student at the time the examination starts.
Instruction Discrepancies: If there is any discrepancy between the written examination instructions and any other information students have received about using devices such as calculators or notes on the exam, the written examination instructions will govern. This rule applies to all exams.
Use of Computers During Exams: Once students have entered the examination room, they may start their laptops before the examination begins; but they may not thereafter use their laptops for any purpose other than taking the examination. Students must have the exam-taking software (currently SofTest) running at all times. Students may not go past the “STOP” screen before they are notified to do so by the proctor or until the examination period starts for self-scheduled examinations.
Laptop User Requirements: Students who wish to use a computer to take examinations must complete a brief mock exam prior to the start of the final exam period to ensure that they are familiar with the software and that their equipment is exam-ready. Students will be emailed instructions and deadlines to take the mock exam. Students who do not upload the mock exam by the deadline will not be permitted to use SofTest for their examinations.
Students must agree to the SofTest Exam Agreement outlined in a click through screen that displays before each exam begins.
Students may not reformat or otherwise erase SofTest files from their laptops until a final uncontested grade is incorporated into the student’s permanent record.
Laptop Failure: If the laptop encounters software difficulties or becomes inoperative, the student should start writing in a bluebook immediately and should assume that only the last 60 seconds of work have not been saved. No additional time is granted for time spent trying to make a laptop functional during an examination. Bluebooks are available in each examination room. There is no technical assistance available during the examination.
At the end of the examination, the student should let the proctor in the Office of the Registrar know that he or she has experienced laptop failure during the exam. The student will then be given instruction on how to ensure that the work he or she has already produced on SofTest will be preserved.
Use of Bluebooks: Before the end of the examination, students using bluebooks must fully complete the cover information for all bluebooks, and at the end of the examination, sequentially number and nestle them, so that the first bluebook has all others inside.
Exam Procedures Start and End: Students may not remove their examinations from the plastic bag until the proctor indicates that they may do so or until the examination period has started. They may read only the examination instructions visible through the plastic sleeve.
At the conclusion of the examination students must place all examination materials (including scratch paper but not the receipt) in the plastic bag and immediately return it to the proctor (if present) or Office of the Registrar. Students who do not go directly to the Office of the Registrar with their examinations at the end of a self scheduled exam will be recorded as late and may be subject to the same penalties as those who exceed the time allotted for the examination period. See Exams That Exceed Time/Penalty section below regarding penalties for exams that exceed the time limit.
Leaving the Exam Room: Students may not leave the room during the exam except to contact a proctor in the Office of the Registrar or to go to the bathroom. They should not tarry on their way to either location, bring anything with them (except for required medications), or speak with anyone on the way or on return.
Special Procedures for Scheduled Examinations:
Start of Exam: At the start of a scheduled examination, the proctor will call the roll in each examination room to make sure that all students who are scheduled to take the exam are present. The proctor will distribute examinations and notify students where they may obtain scratch paper, if applicable, and when it is time to start the examination.
Early Finishers: Students who finish a scheduled exam early may bring their exam to the Office of the Registrar to obtain a receipt signature or may obtain a receipt signature from a proctor if a proctor is in the room. Students who finish their exams within the last five minutes should remain seated until time expires.
End of Exam: All students must stop immediately when the proctor calls the end of the examination or when the examination period ends, if no proctor is present. If they do not, they will be penalized (see Exams That Exceed Time/Penalty section below).
Special Procedures for Self-Scheduled Exams:
Self-Scheduled Authority: The instructor determines in advance whether examinations are self-scheduled. Students cannot decide to self-schedule a scheduled examination.
Self-Scheduled Exam Periods: During the self-scheduled exam period, there are two time slots each day when students may start a self-scheduled exam. The morning period begins at 9 a.m. and the afternoon period begins at 1:30 p.m. Students may take self-scheduled exams any day either in the morning or in the afternoon session, and need not reserve or schedule exam times in advance.
Self-Scheduled Exam Rooms: Two to four rooms are allocated each morning and afternoon for self-scheduled exams. The list of rooms available each day is displayed next to the Office of the Registrar’s door. Wherever possible, separate rooms are assigned for open book exams and closed book exams. Open book exams are exams that permit students to have materials or equipment other than their laptops with SofTest, an examination paper and scratch paper. Students in one room may be taking many different exams of varying lengths. Students may not take a self-scheduled exam in a space other than the designated rooms. Students may not take an open book exam in a closed book exam room or vice-versa.
Self-Scheduled Exams Preparation: Students who are taking self-scheduled examinations should collect their exams from the Office of the Registrar, between 30 and 10 minutes before the selected start time. Student must complete an Exam Receipt. Students should not leave laptops or other valuables unattended in exam rooms while collecting their examination materials.
After collecting the examination materials, students must proceed directly to the examination room and take a seat. Students should leave an empty seat between themselves and other students.
Self-Scheduled Exams Start Rules: Students taking self-scheduled examinations may NOT take the examination materials out of the plastic bag until the room clock turns to 9 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Starting early, including removing the questions from the bag, beginning the SofTest exam, writing on scratch paper, or outlining is a violation of the Honor Code. There is no proctor to announce the start of the exam session.
Self-Scheduled Exam End Rules: Students must end their exams on or before the minute the examination is scheduled to end. When students finish the exam, or when time is up, all examination materials (including scratch paper) must be returned to the Office of the Registrar in the plastic sleeve provided. Students will then receive a copy of their exam receipt.
Exams That Exceed Time/Penalty: Students are responsible for ending their examination on or before the exam end time. Because of the unfairness to other students if some students are allowed to exceed their time, students who fail to end their examinations on time are subject to a presumptive one-gradation penalty (e.g., B to B-) if they exceed the time, even by a few minutes. Individual faculty members may choose to opt out of this policy and impose their own penalty, which is imposed while the student is still anonymous to the instructor.
Students who substantially exceed the examination time may be subject to a more substantial penalty and/or an investigation of whether they have violated the Code of Conduct.
To avoid a grade penalty, students are strongly encouraged to use the timer features on the SofTest software. SofTest records the start and end of the examination, and will be considered dispositive evidence of whether a student has exceeded the examination period. Students who write their examinations in blue books will be held fully responsible for ensuring that they have ended their examination on time. There will be no proctor warning. Students are permitted five minutes from the end time for the exam to return written exam materials (e.g. bluebooks, multiple-choice answer sheets) to the OTR and have their receipt time stamped. Written exam materials returned after the five minutes grace period will be considered late and students will be subject to the same penalties as all students who exceed exam time limits.
Proof of Submission Receipt: Students must obtain an Exam Receipt from the Office of the Registrar for any exam, paper, or other document submitted for a grade. Students should retain this receipt for at least one year after the examination or paper is submitted. If there is a dispute as to whether an exam, paper or other document to be graded has been received, the item will be presumed not to have been received unless the student can produce a duly executed copy of the receipt.
Proof of Time of Submission Time stamp: All papers that are required to be submitted through the OTR (including self-scheduled exams taken in bluebooks and take home exams) must be verified with a time stamped receipt. If there is a dispute as to whether an exam, paper, or other document to be graded has been timely received, the timestamp will be dispositive.
Take Home Exam Process: In some courses, instructors will require take home examinations with longer than typical duration and an open book format. Take home examinations cannot be closed-book examinations and are distributed throughout the self-scheduled examination period. Time limits for a take home examination will be strictly enforced and subject to the same penalties as for timed and self-scheduled exams (see above). Take home exams may not be turned in after 5 p.m. on the last day of the exam period regardless of when the exam was picked up.
An examination with a duration longer than 4.5 hours will be treated as a take home examination unless the instructor specifies otherwise.
Take home examinations will be deployed through TWEN. Hamline Law Library staff assists with TWEN. Students will download the exam questions and anonymously submit their answers using their exam numbers within the time limit set by the faculty. Exams will not be accepted on TWEN after the end of the exam period. Students are responsible for any late submissions caused by their failure to properly submit documents through TWEN.
Final papers or other written submissions that require deadlines are generally submitted to the instructor through the course TWEN site. Students should log on in advance of the submission deadline to ensure that they know how to upload their papers. TWEN records the day and time of submission. Students are responsible for any late submissions caused by their failure to properly submit documents through TWEN.
For TWEN support students are encouraged to contact the appropriate resource:
TWEN Technical support
TWEN Non-technical support:
More resources and information are available at: https://lawschool.westlaw.com/shared/marketInfoDisplay.asp?code=MI&id=266
If no TWEN site is available and if the instructor requires submission through the Office of the Registrar, such papers must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar in person during regular business hours. Students may designate a proxy via a signed written authorization to submit the paper on their behalf. Students, or their proxies, must complete, sign, and timestamp an Exam Receipt to be submitted with the paper. A member of the Office of the Registrar will sign the Exam Receipt and issue a copy to the student or proxy, which the student should keep for at least one year in case there is any question about the timeliness of submission.
To ensure receipt, papers are not accepted in the Office of the Registrar by mail, e-mail or fax.
Since the Office of the Registrar does not have additional information regarding additional faculty requirements for paper submissions (e.g., whether the paper itself should be time stamped, anonymously submitted, or placed in an envelope), students should consult the syllabus or faculty member to determine these specifications.
Grading Notification Process
Grading Decisions: Subject to the rules described above, discretion for evaluating student performance and determining grades resides in the course instructor. Instructors notify students about their grading policies through the course syllabus.
Grade Availability: The grade deadline, posted in the academic calendar, is typically three to four weeks after the last day of exams in any particular session. Grades will be accessible via Piperline starting the day after grades are due. Because all students are expected to participate in the online course evaluation process, an asterisk in place of the final grade will display for ten days after posting for any course that the student did not evaluate through Piperline. Students should consider course evaluations to be part of the work of the course, just like exams and assignments. Individual professors, the Faculty Personnel Committee, and the Dean’s office staff read these evaluations carefully and make personnel decisions and curricular changes as a result of student feedback.
Once they are posted, grades are final except for clerical errors.
Students should not contact the professor to inquire about their examination or grade until after grades are posted to protect the integrity of the examination period and the anonymous grading system.
Students should not make employment, bar admission, or other plans on the expectation that instructors may turn in their grades prior to the grading deadline.