Exams, Grading, & Honors

The Office of the Registrar oversees the administration of Law School examinations and the grading process.

Each term, this section will be updated with the newest information regarding exams. You can also find information here on how to access exams, and how grading works at Columbia Law School.

The Academic Calendar includes information on the exam periods for all Columbia Law School courses. Tentative examination schedules are prepared at the beginning of each term, after the faculty has determined the nature of the exam, but schedules are subject to change. 

Students are expected to appear at or turn in an examination at the stated time and place. Failure to do so will result in a grade of Failure (F). If you are unable to appear for an examination at the proper time, please contact Registration Services at 212-854-2668, or email [email protected]. Please be advised that no adjustment will be made for employment schedules, travel, or personal arrangements which conflict with the exam schedule. As stated in the Law School Rules, “All students should be prepared to sit for examinations at any point throughout the examination period,” so it is advisable to make your travel and personal plans to incorporate the full exam period. If you self-identify with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) and are granted special examination conditions, ODS will work directly with Registration Services to make accomodations for you.

Law School students who have an exam conflict in non-Law School courses must reschedule the non-Law School exam. Rescheduling of exams is permitted only for the following reasons:

  1. Two Law School exams scheduled on the same day. 
  2. Proctored or fixed-date take-home exams can be rescheduled to allow a 36-hour period between the start of two exams. 
  3. Illness on the day of the exam. Any excuse granted on grounds of illness or other physical disability is conditioned upon receiving a satisfactory medical note within a reasonable time (one or two days, and no later than the end of the examination period).
  4. Birth of a child:  An exam will be rescheduled if the student is attending the birth of his/her child. 
  5. Religious Observance:  An exam will be rescheduled if it conflicts with a religious observance on the day of the exam.
  6. Bereavement:  An exam will be rescheduled in the event of a death in the student’s family and the student is attending the funeral or grieving.
  7. In other exceptional and documented circumstances.

These regulations apply to all Law School exams, not only to finals in December and April/May. Students having any of the above conflicts should email Registration Services at [email protected] once the exam schedule is published, and no later than the published deadline in advance of the exam date, in order to adjust their exam schedule. Registration Services will determine which exam will be rescheduled and will notify you of the date and location of your rescheduled exam shortly before the start of the exam period.

 Examinations will be rescheduled only after the originally scheduled date, never before.  It is important to note that only rescheduling arrangements made officially through Registration Services will be honored.

Students may not take a second examination in a course for which they have already earned a passing grade.

The Law School offers students the option of taking in-class proctored exams (essay-type only) on their own laptop computer through the use of exam software that is provided free of charge to all. As an alternative, students may choose to handwrite their exams.

Law School examinations are administered and graded using an anonymous grading system (i.e., the faculty does not know the identity of the examinee whose paper she or he is grading). Your answers are identified only by a randomly assigned exam number. Your identity is revealed to your instructor only after she or he has assigned your exam grade. The instructor then can make adjustments for class participation or other criteria before finalizing and releasing your grade for the course in LawNet.

With a resolution passed in December 1994, the Faculty of Law established the grading system of A, B (both with plus and minus designations), C, F. In May 2008 the Faculty of Law passed a resolution adding the grade of W, to be recorded on the official transcript when students withdraw from a course after the close of the Law School’s official Change of Program period and through October 15 in the fall term and February 15 in the spring term. Some courses and clinics offer a grade of CR (credit) as an option, while other courses, and some research and writing categories, are graded as Credit/Fail. There are very few Credit/Fail courses at the Law School, and courses with this grading system will so indicate in their online descriptions.

Work in Columbia University schools other than Law will be graded on the A-B-C-F scale. A minimum grade of C is required to earn credit in such offerings. For work undertaken while visiting at other Law Schools, both in the United States and abroad, a minimum grade of C is required to earn Law credit.

Grades for fall term courses are due by the Friday before the first day of the spring term. For spring term courses, grades are due by June 1 for continuing students, and by the week before Commencement for May degree candidates. Instructors who have 150 or more exams to grade are given a week or so extra to submit all their grades. For detailed information, refer to the May 2012 Faculty Resolution on Grade Submission Dates.

In the spring term, instructors are asked to submit grades for graduating students early so that Registration Services can complete graduation clearance prior to Commencement. To allow sufficient time for instructors to grade written work for graduating students, their deadline for submission of papers is the last day of classes for the term.

To access your grades through LawNet, go to www.law.columbia.edu/lawnet. You will need a user ID and a password, which will be given to you during the computer training sessions sponsored by the Law School’s Department of Information Technology (IT) during orientation or early in the term. These sessions can also be completed online. For assistance with LawNet, contact the Information Technology helpdesk at [email protected].

To obtain access to the University’s many student services, including the grades on your official University transcript, you must set up your University network account by visiting the Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) website at www.columbia.edu/cuit. For new students, additional information is provided during the mandatory IT computer training sessions.