Diploma exams are optional this year, NWT tells students

Diploma exams will be optional for the 2020-21 school year, the NWT’s Department of Education, Culture, and Employment announced on Monday.

Students who wish to take their diploma exams must opt in by letting their school know by Tuesday, December 15. Their final mark will be a blend of 30 percent of their exam mark and 70 percent of their school mark.

Diploma exams are necessary to apply for some post-secondary schools.


Students who don’t write the diploma exams will receive their school mark – the mark their teacher gives them – as 100 percent of their course mark.

In a news release, the department said its decision came after Alberta Education made diploma exams optional in the province. NWT students take Alberta’s diploma exams.

The department said its decision followed “close consideration of the needs of NWT students and communities, as well as the operational realities of NWT schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Education leaders agree with the decision taken by the Government of the Northwest Territories where diploma exams are concerned and appreciated having had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion,” Simon Cloutier, president of the Commission scolaire francophone, was quoted as saying on behalf of education leaders.

“Equity for all graduate students, no matter their individual circumstance, is what we are striving for. We strongly encourage all students that are registered in courses that include diploma exams to carefully consider their choice of post-secondary studies and their requirements prior to taking this important decision.”


The option to forgo writing diploma exams will be available in January, April, June, and August 2021.

The department cautioned that students who choose to write the diploma exams but aren’t happy with their mark won’t be able to request an exemption afterward.

The department said students are responsible for finding out if they need to write any of the exams in order to apply for specific college or university programs.