Spring 2020 Exams FAQ

The College of Law faculty has taken two actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. All law school exams during the Spring 2020 semester will be conducted through take-home, open-book exams. 
  2. All College of Law courses for the Spring 2020 semester, regardless of how they were originally designated, will be graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis, except those courses in which all work was fully completed by March 13, 2020. The grading basis for courses in which all work was completed before March 13, 2020, is unchanged.

We created the FAQ below to anticipate questions you may have about this policy. Should you have additional questions, please email Dean Rucker,  

Will my take-home exam be administered in the same time frame as originally scheduled for my class?

Your individual professors will contact you regarding their plans for final exams. Some may choose to limit your exam time to the time allocated on the final exam schedule. Others may provide you with longer periods of time and allow you the option to choose when to take the exam.  Faculty are encouraged to be generous in the time allotted for exams to account for technical difficulties, students with family responsibilities, or medical conditions.

What will my take-home final exam look like?

Your faculty members are free to choose any exam format they deem appropriate. The only universal change is that all exams will be open-book; however, students are not permitted to collaborate with any other person while completing an exam unless the professor expressly permits it. Any other restrictions on materials that may be used will be subject only to student obligations under the honor code.

Will my take-home exams be graded anonymously?

Yes. We will ensure that we continue to grade all exams anonymously. The Registrar’s Office will contact you with instructions on how to obtain your anonymous exam numbers for final exams.

I am taking an upper-level writing and/or seminar class this semester. Will this change affect my ability to complete that requirement? What about concentration requirements?

No. All letter-grade requirements—such as but not limited to receiving a letter grade to satisfy the writing requirement or a concentration—are waived and thus deemed satisfied by the receipt of a grade of Satisfactory in a Spring 2020 course.

The College of Law's normal Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory policy requires that a student's performance must be equivalent of a grade of "C" or better to obtain credit. Does that policy apply to Spring 2020 classes?

No. Under this revised policy, students will be awarded “Satisfactory” based on any work that would be the equivalent of a passing grade.

Will the College of Law grading curve/mandatory median require a certain number of students in a class receive a grade of "Unsatisfactory"?

No. The College of Law grading curve/mandatory median never requires that a certain number of students receive failing grades. Therefore, it is possible for all students in a class to receive a grade of “Satisfactory.”

What about Elective Alternate Grading?

Elective Alternate Grading is suspended for the Spring 2020 semester. 

How will the College of Law calculate grade point averages, Dean's List, graduation honors and Order of the Coif?

Grades for Spring 2020, except for courses completed before March 13, 2020, will not figure in any student’s grade point average or be counted for calculation of graduation honors. There will be no Dean’s List for second- and third year students for the Spring 2020 semester. The Dean’s List for first-year students will be based on the Fall 2019 semester only. No class rank will be computed for the Spring 2020 semester. 

Graduation honors will be determined based on grades earned in courses in which all work was fully completed by March 13, 2020. For the graduating class of 2020, Order of the Coif membership will be based on five semesters of graded courses. The 75% graded course requirement is suspended for the current academic year.

I am currently on academic probation and I was counting on my Spring 2020 grades to raise my cumulative GPA above a 2.00. Will I be academically dismissed or lose my scholarship at the end of the Spring 2020 semester because my GPA is below a 2.00?

For the purpose of Section 9.01 of the College’s Rules, the Spring 2020 semester shall not be considered a “semester.” If a student had a GPA below 2.0 at the end of the Fall 2019 semester, no decisions regarding academic probation or termination of their academic scholarships will be made until the end of the Fall 2020 semester based on Fall 2020 grades. Nonetheless, faculty shall flag low-performing exams for the Assistant Dean of Students to ensure that students who are struggling get the academic support that is normally provided.

Will employers understand why I received "Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory" grades?

Yes, many law schools in the country are reporting a shift in grading policy to a binary grading format as we have adopted. Thus, Cincinnati Law students will not be alone. All transcripts will be annotated to indicate that Spring 2020 grades reflect the College of Law’s policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than student choice.