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OPTIMIZER: Using the Exam Optimizer

The Exam Optimizer is only recommended for PeopleSoft schools. See "Overview" for more information.

Table of Contents

Exam Fields
Exam Date Periods
Exam Meeting Patterns
Exam Rules
Finding the Exam Optimizer
Exam Optimizer Settings
Optimizer Run Name
Exam Seat Spacing
Use Actual Enrollment
Exam Optimizer Errors
Running the Exam Optimizer 
Viewing Results
Exporting Results
Related Articles 


  • Our Exam Optimizer is used to assign exam meeting patterns and rooms to a section in scheduling. 

  • The current functionality allows exam meetings to be manually set or automatically set via an optimizer.

  • Additionally, exam meeting patterns can be created to define a mapping between section meeting patterns and exam meeting patterns.

  • The Exam Optimizer is only recommended for PeopleSoft schools, as only PeopleSoft’s bidirectional integration supports it (and the fields were thus set up to match PeopleSoft).

  • For non-PeopleSoft schools, it might be possible to use the Exam Optimizer to schedule exams. However, exam meetings will not post back to your SIS. If you wish to use the Exam Optimizer despite this limitation, reach out to your Customer Success representative for help enabling it. 

Exam Fields

In the section editing modal, there is an "Exam Meetings" card where exam data can be viewed or directly edited. Each section can have multiple exam meetings. The following fields are available to edit:


  • Type – This indicates the type of exam. The options can be adjusted in the section template

  • Combined Exam – This field is used for PeopleSoft clients to indicate this exam is allowed to be shared with another exam in the same room.

  • Seat Spacing – This field indicates how many seats there should be between students in the exam. A value of “1” means there should be one seat between every student, so a class of 30 needs a room of 60 or greater.

  • Date – The date of the exam.

  • Start Time – The start time of the exam.

  • End Time – The end time of the exam.

  • Room – The room of the exam.


Selecting a Room

  • When selecting a room, the options by default will only be filtered by available rooms.

  • When checking which rooms are available, the system only compares against other exam periods within the same term.

  • The "Show Only Available Rooms" toggle will filter out rooms that are double booked; however, the "Double Booked With Event" rule must be on in order for this to work.


Exam Date Periods

PATH: Academic Scheduling > Settings > Terms


  • For each term and part of term, users can create a specific date range labeled as the "Exam Period" date range.

  • The purpose of the "Exam Period" is to indicate a range of dates in which exams are supposed to be scheduled. This date range has an impact on how Exam Meeting Patterns are set up, and how the Exam Optimizer assigns times. 

  • In the below examples:

    • If a section is in the Fall 2020-21 term, then it would be associated with the exam period of Nov 23, 2020–Nov 27th, 2020.

    • If a section is assigned to the Half Session part of term, then it would be associated with the exam period of Oct 12, 2020–Oct 16th, 2020.




Exam Meeting Patterns

Learn how to set up exam meeting patterns here

Exam Rules

There are two default rules that can be used with helping create the exam schedule: Double Booked Exam Room and Exam Room Under Capacity.


Double Booked Exam Room

This rule checks for when an exam room is double booked with another exam room.


Exam Room Under Capacity

This rule detects when an exam room is under capacity. This rule takes into account the Exam Seat Spacing field to detect conflicts. If a section has a maxEnrollment of “30” and a seat spacing value of “2”, that means there must be 2 empty seats for each student, indicating a room of capacity 90 or greater is required. If such a section is assigned a room with capacity of 50, a conflict will be detected.



Finding the Exam Optimizer

PATH: Academic Scheduling > Optimizer > Exam Optimizer


At the above path, users can view existing runs or create a new run.



Exam Optimizer Settings

Each Exam Optimizer run has both general and advanced settings as well as filter options.


General Settings

Optimizer Run Name | Departments | Exam Seat Spacing | Use Actual Enrollment

Optimizer Run Name

Be as specific as possible.



Used to filter which departments are included in the optimizer. Default is all departments.


Advanced Settings

Exam Seat Spacing

  • Indicates how many seats should exist between students in the exam. This has a direct impact on what rooms can be assigned to each exam meeting.

  • When evaluating the room capacity, the Optimizer compares the section's Max Enrollment field to the room's capacity field.

  • Exam Seat Spacing input is used to set the default Exam Seat Spacing value for all sections that do not already have a value defined. If a section does have an Exam Seat Spacing value, then the section value overrides the General Settings value.


Use Actual Enrollment

If set to yes, the Optimizer will check room capacity against the section's actual enrollment, as opposed to the section's max enrollment.



Used to filter which sections are included in the optimizer.


Exam Optimizer Errors

Overview | List of Potential Errors | Next Steps


Before you can run the optimizer, the Coursedog system will automatically check for potential errors in the input data that might cause issues with the Optimizer if not resolved. 


If there are errors, you will see them listed out as follows:

List of Potential Errors


Listed Error

What It Means

Exam Period does not have a date

This indicates the exam meeting pattern has an empty date field. 

Exam Period start/end date not set on term

This indicates that the term and part of terms associated with the optimizer run are missing either the exam period start date or exam period end date property. 

Missing term and/or part of term data

This indicates that either the term (or a part of term assigned to one of the sections) cannot be found or does not exist. 

Exam occurs before the exam period starts

This indicates that an exam meeting pattern has a date field set to before the exam period.

Exam occurs after the exam period ends

This indicates that an exam meeting pattern has a date field set to after the exam period.

Section must have enrollment (or max enrollment) set

Based on the "Use Actual Enrollment" setting, the Exam Optimizer requires all sections to have either the enrollment or max enrollment field populated. 

Exam Pattern end time is invalid

This indicates that an exam meeting pattern has an end time before the start time. 

Exam Pattern: Start/end time is required

This indicates that an exam meeting pattern has a missing start or end time property. 


Next Steps

Once there are no errors, you will see the following screen that will allow you to proceed.



Running the Exam Optimizer 

Click to Optimize

Once all errors are resolved, you are able to go to the "Optimize" tab and see the "Click To Optimize" button.

Progress Bar

Once you begin the optimizer, the user will be shown a progress bar of the optimization.


Once the optimizer completes, you will see the progress bar reach 100%.



Viewing Results


  • Once the Optimizer completes, you can view the "Exam Optimizer Results" dashboard.

  • This dashboard will display the exam schedule for each section and will allow you to filter sections based on if the Optimizer was able to successfully assign an exam meeting. 

  • The optimizer will assign the following fields to each exam meeting: Date, Start Time, End Time, and Room. All the assigned fields will be visible in the Optimizer results page.


Filter Options

  • Scheduled Successfully

  • Not Scheduled – Indicates sections for which an exam meeting could not be scheduled

  • Scheduled with Issues – Indicates sections for which an exam time was scheduled, but there is no room assigned to the exam. This can occur if there is no academic room associated with the section, and the Exam Meeting Pattern was configured to "use the same room as academic room".

  • Excluded – Indicates the section was excluded from the optimizer run. 


Exporting Results

Users can also export a CSV of the exam schedule in the "Export" tab of the dashboard. The report will list all exams scheduled by the Optimizer along with all manually scheduled exams.



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