William and Mary Law School

Use of Computers on In-Class Exams

Current as of Fall 2012

The Faculty devised this policy to facilitate the use of computers to take in-class exams without changing the nature or scope of the Honor Code. Proportionality was considered as part of this policy to balance the interests of those who prefer to use computers with those who choose to write exams by hand. This policy is expected to be reviewed regularly by the appropriate student and faculty committees, especially as technology develops.

1. Students may use private equipment - computers and/or printers - to write in-class examinations. School computers may be used for take-home exams and/or papers.

2. Students are permitted to use school-owned computers to take in-class examinations if:

a.  A computer related emergency exists,* AND

b.  A school-owned computer is available.** 

*This policy does not define "computer emergency" nor will the Law School Administration make that determination.  Students are on their honor to manage this policy as a privilege when needed.

**This policy does not define "available."  For example if a student is writing a paper and there is an "exam emergency," the student writing a paper is not expected to vacate the computer for the emergency.  Again, we expect students to manage this policy as a privilege. 

3.  To the extent available, Law School printers may be used to print in-class exams.

4. Students who have their own computers and printers are not prohibited by Law School policy from using them to type exams. However, any individual faculty member may choose to prohibit their use for any particular exam, including take home exams.

5. Students who write their exams on a computer will upload their exam to MyLaw (in the case of technical failure causing MyLaw to be unavailable, students would instead copy exam to a thumb-drive for submission) [see footnotes 1&2 below] at the completion of the examination period. The electronic version must be readable by a system using a Microsoft Windows operating system and the student's answer file must be written in either Word or WordPerfect or a product that can be opened by Microsoft. Any student failing to hand in either a written or printed and submit a copy of his or her exam to MyLaw at the conclusion of the time allotted will be considered to have failed to complete the examination.  Thumbdrives become property of the Law School.

In addition, within ninety minutes of the completion of each in-class exam, each student must submit a printed copy of his or her answer to Gloria Todd, who is located in the administrative suite outside the Courtroom on the first floor. When handing in that copy, the student must follow the procedures for handing in a self-scheduled examination. In addition, the text of the paper copy must precisely match the text of the electronic copy previously submitted. ANY DEVIATION WILL BE REVIEWED UNDER THE HONOR CODE FOR A POSSIBLE VIOLATION AND WILL BE PROSECUTED ACCORDINGLY.

Students taking exams in excess of 4 hours (with the exception of some 1L exams which may extend to 5 hours) are required to submit a hard-copy of their answers to Gloria Todd by the stated end time.  In addition, all exams are to be uploaded to MyLaw by the stated end time.

Students are responsible for any problems--for example, the power goes out at a crucial time, or part of the answer is inadvertently erased before it is printed out, or the disk crashes five minutes before the exam is over, or the printer jams. Failure to turn in an exam on time will be penalized and may result in a grade of "F." Students are advised to take precautions, including, but not limited to, frequently saving the document both to the hard drive and to a disk, printing the exam answer as it is completed, and having bluebooks and pens available should a terminal computer failure occur. Exceptions may be granted in rare circumstances.

6. THE LAW SCHOOL DOES NOT GUARANTEE THAT SPACE WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR ALL STUDENTS WISHING TO USE COMPUTER EQUIPMENT FOR THEIR EXAMS.

Students using computers may take their exams in the scheduled exam classroom, the make-up room (typically room 133) or in the authorized areas in the Library.   Space in these rooms is available on a first-come, first-served basis.   The small classrooms in the North Wing are handwriting only.

Students may type exams in the Library with the following restrictions:

Students may use any available carrel or table space that is located next to an outlet in a public space of the Library (students may not take exams in study rooms or offices).

Students may not use equipment, wires, or extension cords in a manner that creates any kind of hazard. For example, wires or cords may not be run across aisles or walkways. The Library staff will determine whether a hazard exists.

Students may not reserve any space in the Library in advance for purposes of typing an exam.

7. Students must type their answers by hand during the examination period. Students may use "cut" or "copy" and "paste" functions within their answer but they may not copy ("cut and paste") material into their examination from any other source.

8. a. During an open-book examination, except as specified by the instructor, students may access and read material previously saved but may not copy previously saved material and may not use a search function to locate material from any source.


    b. During a closed-book examination, students may not access or read any previously saved material and may not open any file other than the file in which the exam answer is being composed.

    c. Under no circumstances may a student open an internet connection during any examination.

9. Students may not use grammar-check but may use spell-check to aid them in writing the exam.
Here are the steps to block grammar-check in MS Word:
     Go to Tools, then go to Options, then choose the tab for Spelling & Grammar.

     Now unselect the checkbox for "Check Grammar as you type."

     Also unselect the checkbox for "Check grammar with spelling."

     Finally, click OK.

10. In any examination that has restrictions on the length of answers, an exam written on a computer must be printed in type no smaller than 12-point type with one-inch margins and must not exceed the maximum number of lines permitted.

11. Individual faculty members may add further restrictions on the use of computers for examinations, or may amend the restrictions listed above. In that case, the faculty member will communicate his/her policy to the students, and will provide specific, written exam instructions.

12. Failure to follow these guidelines and restrictions may constitute a violation of the Honor Code.

[1] "thumb drive" is used but includes CD, USB, Flashdrive.
[2] If not able to save in Word or Word Perfect, save in a text (.txt), rich text (.rtf), or pdf file.