As required by the Rules of the New York Court of Appeals, "All study shall be evaluated by authentic written examination, except where such examination is inappropriate, such as in seminar and practice court courses or those courses which are principally concerned with legal writing, and research."
Written examinations are essential parts of examination courses and are held after the end of classes at the end of every semester in all subjects completed therein, except courses where grades are determined entirely by papers or clinical work. Mid semester examinations or mid year examinations in full year courses may be scheduled at the discretion of the professor. Classroom work, in so far as practical and at the discretion of the professor, may also be considered in determining final grades. Examinations for both divisions are usually held on weekdays during the regular examination period. Please note: examinations given on weekdays in evening division courses generally begin at 5:30 p.m.
Examinations for all classes will begin promptly at the hour announced in the examination schedule posted prior to the examination period of each semester. No student will be permitted to enter the examination room after the first hour has passed nor will any student be permitted to conclude the exam and leave the room during the first hour of the examination, unless the student is accompanied by a proctor.
Students must present themselves for examination at the scheduled time except in courses where the student's grades will be determined entirely by papers or clinical work, unless permission to be excused is granted as provided in these rules. Omission to do so will constitute failure of such examination by the student.
The Dean or the Dean's delegate may grant permission to be excused from a regularly scheduled examination. The Registrar is the individual delegated to grant permission to students to be excused from a regularly scheduled exam due to exam conflicts or religious observance.
Examination Conflict Form
For all other reasons allowed by this Rule, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs is the individual delegated to grant permission to students to be excused from a regularly scheduled exam. Requests to defer exams will be denied if for:
- social plans, or
- employment reasons for full time JD students.
Requests for permission to be excused from a regularly scheduled exam may be granted for extraordinary causes. The following are reasons that will be considered in granting relief:
- an absolute examination conflict,
- two examinations scheduled to start within 16 hours of each other,
- documented medical incapacity,
- religious observance,
- death or documented serious medical emergency of a close family member,
- automobile accident, mugging, robbery, or similar traumatic experience at the time of the exam or period immediately preceding the exam,
- subpoena requiring court appearance at the time of exam or period immediately preceding the exam,
- childbirth that interferes with exam or period immediately preceding the exam (applies to either parent),
- military commitment written military orders are required,
- extraordinary family circumstances.
Requests for an exam deferral must be in writing and requires satisfactory documentation of the reasons. Students should be prepared to provide complete documentation, which is subject to verification and approval. If your file shows that you have previously deferred one or more examinations for reasons other than exam conflicts, another deferral examination will be granted in only the most extraordinary circumstances.
All rescheduled exams are rescheduled after the scheduled exam date. An exam conflict exists when you have two scheduled final examinations to start within 16 hours of each other (take-home exams do NOT constitute a conflict). Students who have a conflict must complete the Examination Conflict form 3 weeks after the start of the semester. Please do NOT schedule any travel arrangements until the END of the exam period. Students should consult “RULES GOVERNING EXAMINATIONS, GRADES, AND HONORS” in the Academic Regulations before submitting the Examination Conflict Form. Exam conflicts will not be negotiated by the Registrar's Office after 3 weeks after the start of the semester.
Any student with an absolute examination conflict may elect to take the two conflicting exams on the same day if, before the end of the seventh week of class, he or she properly notifies the Registrar of his or her election to do so. These examinations will be scheduled so that there is a short interval between the end of the first examination and the beginning of the second examination.
Those who have properly notified the Registrar that they, for religious reasons, cannot take examinations when scheduled will be required to take these examinations earlier on the day scheduled or later, in so far as practical.
Any student who did not take an examination during the examination period and who is eligible to take it during the make-up period is required to make up the examination on a scheduled date during the examination make up period. The make up examination period will be determined after the end of the regularly scheduled examination period.
Any student who misses an examination and did not comply with Rule 5 above must apply in writing to the Faculty Re examination Committee for permission to make up the examination. The petition must be in writing and must be filed with the Registrar. The times and conditions of the make up examination, if allowed, will be within the absolute discretion of the committee. If the omitted examination was given in the spring semester or in summer school, the application to make up the examination must be made within 10 days of the conclusion of that examination period; if the omitted examination was given in the fall semester, the application must be made prior to the third day of class of the spring semester.
A student who, although eligible to take a make up examination, fails to do so will be deemed to have failed the examination. A student may apply in writing to the Faculty Re examination Committee for removal of the failure and for permission to make up the examination during the next regularly scheduled examination period during which an examination in that subject is given. The application must be filed with the Registrar and must be made within 10 days of the missed make up examination. The Committee will grant the application only upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances. If the Committee grants the application the student will be allowed to continue conditionally in the school, subject to achieving a true weighted average of at least a 2.0 for the academic year in which the omitted examination was regularly scheduled.
All courses receive a standard letter grade, with the exception of Clinical Externship Fieldwork, Journals and Independent Studies. The one exception pertaining to courses is the Trial and Arbitration Advocacy and Advanced Trial and Arbitration Advocacy courses, where students may select to receive the Standard letter grade or select Pass/Fail. This Pass/Fail option must be communicated to the Registrar prior to the end of the second week of classes. Once a grade format is selected it may not be reverted.
Except for pass/fail courses, the standing of students will be indicated by the following letter grades. For the purposes of calculating weighted averages, numerical equivalents will be used for the letter grades as follows:
Effective Fall 2014
The minimum grade that will be recorded in a course is "F". The grade of "D" constitutes a passing mark in a subject. To continue in good scholastic standing, however, a student must maintain a true weighted average of at least 2.0 in every academic year. In computing a true weighted average, hours in a pass/fail course that was passed will be disregarded. If such a course was failed, an "F" will be entered on the student's transcript and a 0.0 will be used in computing the student's true weighted average. For the purposes of this rule, an academic year shall begin with the summer term, provided that where a summer term is the student's final term in law school, it will be considered part of the academic year that commenced the preceding summer.
For the purposes of determining whether a student is entitled to Honors, the student's true weighted average will be used.
LL.M. and M.S.L. Grading Policy (Effective Fall 2017)
LL.M. and foreign exchange students are graded together on a separate curve from J.D. students. M.S. L. students are graded on a separate curve also and follow a separate but similar LL.M. curve policy.
This curve is mandatory for all courses in which 4 or more LL.M./foreign exchange or 4 or more M.S.L. students are enrolled where final grades are awarded primarily on the basis of examinations. For all other courses (including paper option courses) enrolling 4 more or LL.M./ foreign exchange or M.S.L. students, the curve is recommended but not required.
Each LL.M. or M.S.L. student enrolled in a class shall receive a grade ranging from H+ to F (for failure), that generates a mean grade for all enrolled LL.M. or M.S.L students, respectively, of between 3.1 and 3.4 (exclusive of failing grades), where grades have the following equivalencies:
For courses enrolling 1 to 3 LL.M. /foreign exchange or 1 to 3 M.S.L. students where grades are awarded primarily on the basis of examinations, instructors may give no more than one H grade.
LLM Grading Policy (prior to Fall 2014)
Curve for Examination-Only and Drafting Courses
LLM students shall be graded on a separate curve from JD students. This curve is mandatory for examination-only and drafting courses in which 10 or more LLM/exchange students are enrolled.
In situations in which the curve is not mandatory, professors should differentiate performance among LLM/Exchange students rather than giving them all grades of P (Pass) or H (Honors). Accordingly, the curve is recommended for: (1) all examination-only or drafting courses in which fewer than 10 LLM students are enrolled; (2) all courses in which students may choose an examination or a paper option; and (3) LLM independent study or thesis projects.
The curve to be applied is as follows:
% of Students Grades
top 10 to 20% - H (Honors)
top 40 to 50 % - H or VG (Very Good)
top 80 to 90% - H, VG, or G (Good)
bottom 10 to 20% - P (Pass)
no standard - F (Fail)
LLM Student Grading in Legal Writing and Introduction to U.S. Legal System
LLM students enrolled in LLM Legal Writing and Research and in Introduction to the U.S. Legal System shall be evaluated using the following curve:
Students Admitted Fall 2011 and Afterwards
0% to top 20% - HP (High Pass) (outstanding)
60% to 100% - PA (Pass) (good or acceptable)
0% to bottom 20% - LP (Low Pass) (passing, but deficient performance)
no standard - FA (Fail) (performance unworthy of credit)
Students Admitted Prior to Fall 2011
up to top 25% - H (Honors) (outstanding)
remainder - CR (Credit) (good or acceptable)
no standard - F (Fail) (performance unworthy of credit)
Grades received in LLM Legal Writing and Research and Introduction to the U.S. Legal System will not be factored into Honors determinations.
LLM, MSL and Foreign Exchange Student Grading Policy (effective Spring 2016)
Except as set forth below, all grades for LLM, MSL and foreign exchange students are reported as "HONORS"; "VERY GOOD"; "GOOD"; "PASS"; or "FAIL.":
LLM Grade Grading Standard
HONORS (H) - Outstanding performance
VERY GOOD (VG) - Excellent performance
GOOD (G) - Above average performance
PASS (P) - Performance worthy of credit
FAIL (F) - Inferior performance that does not satisfy minimum standard for credit.
Grading Curve and Other Restrictions:
LLM and foreign exchange students are graded together on a separate curve from JD students. MSL students are graded on a separate curve also and follow a separate but similar LLM curve policy. This curve is mandatory for all courses in which 4 or more LLM/foreign exchange or 4 or more MSL students are enrolled where final grades are awarded primarily on the basis of examinations. For all other courses (including paper option courses) enrolling 4 more or LLM/ foreign exchange or MSL students, the curve is recommended but not required. The curve to be applied is as follows:
Grades Percentage of LLM/Exchange or MSL Students
H - Up to top 25%
H or VG - Up to top 50%
H, VG, or G - Up to top 75%
P or F - Remainder (F’s given only if warranted)
F - 0, up to 25%, if warranted
For courses enrolling 1 to 3 LLM/foreign exchange or 1 to 3 MSL students where grades are awarded primarily on the basis of examinations, instructors may give no more than one H grade.
For all courses (whether curved or not) an instructor may award grades of H, VG, G, or P with a plus or minus if the total number of plus grades awarded equals the total number of minus grades awarded (e.g., one H+ and one VG-, and so forth); provided that a professor may not award more than one H+ grade in any course.
Magna Cum Laude
Students who complete a paper that satisfies the LLM Writing Requirement and who rank in the top 10% of the graduating class will be eligible to receive magna cum laude honors.
Students need not complete the LLM Writing Requirement in order to be considered for cum laude honors. Additionally, all students in the top 25% of the graduating class who did not receive magna cum laude honors will receive cum laude honors, including students in the top 10% who did not complete the LLM Writing Requirement.
JD Grading Curve
By a resolution adopted in April 2014, the faculty made the percentage distribution of grades listed below mandatory for all first year courses and upper-division courses with a minimum JD enrollment of 21 students. The percentage distribution of grades for these and first year courses will be strictly enforced.
Grade Category Grade Curve Requirement
A+ (0 – 3%)
A and above (0 – 12%)
A- and above (15 – 30%)
B+ and above (45 – 60%)
B (30 – 45%)
B- and below (10 – 20%)
C+ and below (0 – 10%)
Effective Fall 2014 by a resolution adopted in Spring 2014, the faculty have required all courses to have a mandatory curve; read for more information.
JD Academic Honors
Summa Cum Laude
Top 1 percent of the graduating class with the highest weighted cumulative GPA.
Magna Cum Laude
Top 12 percent of the graduating class with the highest weighted cumulative GPA.
Order of the Coif
A graduating student is eligible to be inducted into the Order of the Coif (1) who has completed at least 75 percent of his or her law courses in graded courses and (2) whose grade record ranks in the top 10 percent of all graduating students of the school. “Graded courses” are those for which academic accomplishment is recorded on the basis of educational measurement involving four or more discriminators.
Top 33 1/3 percent of the graduating class with the highest weighted cumulative GPA.
Top 25 percent of the entire JD class based on annual weighted GPA. Annual GPA is calculated by coursework taken in previous summer session, fall and spring semester.
No student who fails to attain the required year average of 2.0 will be permitted to advance into the next year. An average of 2.0 in the final academic year and overall is required to graduate. Such a student may, however, seek permission to repeat the failed year by filing a Petition for Permission to Repeat with the Dean of Admissions and by appearing personally before the Readmission Committee at its stated sittings, usually in late July. The Readmission Committee may consider any information it considers relevant, including without limitation not only the applicant's law school record but also information revealed in his or her law school application file. Permission to repeat is granted only under extraordinary circumstances, such as where the applicant has shown a reason for his or her failure, which reason is not likely to recur. The transcript of any student who is readmitted will contain all grades received in the failed year.
Failed courses aggregating in credit value more than one quarter of the credits taken by a student in any academic year will constitute a failed year irrespective of the weighted average obtained by the student. In such case, the student will not be permitted to continue in the school or to graduate. For purposes of this rule any failed course that is retaken will be treated as if it had not been retaken. The student may seek readmission pursuant to Rule 10.
A student who fails a required course must retake that course. The student must retake the course, if feasible, during the next semester in which it is offered in the class division in which the student is registered, and must pass the examination in it. A student who fails an elective course, other than a paper course (see Article V of the Academic Regulations) may, if the course is offered again, retake that course. Transcripts will reflect both the original failure and, where applicable, the new grade. The numerical equivalent of the new grade will be averaged with the failure 0.00 for cumulative grade point average purposes.
A student who, although not required to repeat the year, repeats and passes a course in which an examination was failed, or, in the case of a failed elective paper course, who submits a paper that earns a "pass," will receive credit for that course in the semester in which it was first taken. No credit for such a course will be counted toward residence credit in the semester in which the course was re taken.
No day division student will be permitted to enter the third year class with any failed first year course outstanding against him or her; no evening division student will be permitted to enter the fourth year class with any failed first year course or failed second year required course outstanding against him or her.
A faculty member may change a grade if an error in mathematics or computation has been made.
Special Note: Incompletes (INC) or No Grades (NGR) remaining on a student's record at the completion of the semester following the course in question will be converted to "Fs".