Fall exam scheduling

Starting this Fall term, the final exam schedule will be released mid-October rather than late June. Most other Canadian universities follow a similar exam process, as it allows students to avoid enrollment conflicts, and reduces instances of exam hardship.

Historically, final exam timings have been attached to courses before enrollment, meaning you knew your exam times in advance. However, this often led to many challenges – having to choose between two needed courses due to exam time conflicts, ending up with exams back to back at different campuses, or having three or more exams in 24 hours. Last fall term, we had around 500 students with exam hardships.

Our new mid-October exam schedule release will largely eliminate these problems.

The new process

Starting Fall 2020, we will take instructor feedback on exam needs, combine it with live enrollment data, and produce the schedule in mid-October.

Exams will take place during the regular exam period (December 9 to 20) and within the regular exam time blocks (8:30 to 11:30; 12:00 to 3:00; 3:30 to 6:30; and 7:00 to 10:00). Students who have a defined hardship will still be accommodated under the existing policy.

This change will:

  • Eliminate course enrollment conflicts due to exam scheduling.
  • Reduce  exam hardship (ie, three exams in 24 hours; or two exams back-to-back at different campuses).
  • Reduce the likelihood of two exams on the same day.


Does this change help me get the courses I need?

Over the past five undergraduate surveys, roughly one third of students said they could not enroll in a required course – and an exam conflict with another course ranked as one of the top three reasons. By producing the exam schedule after enrollment, we will eliminate enrollment/exam enrollment conflicts completely.

Will exams be spaced better?

Previously, due to the early June release, many departments scheduled exams “just in case”. As a result, each term nearly 20% of scheduled exams were cancelled or modified to a different format. That meant that 20% of available exam blocks were wasted. By changing to an October release, we’ll be able to use all of the exam blocks to the fullest extent possible, and spread exams more evenly.

How will we know if the new system is working?

Our goal is to reduce hardship through the entire student body, and we will be transparent with the results and numbers this new process produces as we move forward.

How will we find out when our exams are?

Students will be sent an email when the exam schedule is released. If a course has an exam, it will show up in goSFU. The full exam schedule will also be posted on the exams website www.sfu.ca/students/exams.html when ready.