I missed 3-4 weeks of class this semester due to a medical condition. This was around 3 weeks before exams which meant I had to catch up with other subjects as well as doing assignments and tests.

I have to sit an exam tomorrow even though I missed a chunk load of the material and was too ill to be able to study at home during those weeks. I sent the university all of my medical certificates as I missed a couple of tests and had to resit the exams. I also sent my medical certificates to the special consideration committee telling them that I want my exam deferred, but this was denied. I sent the lecturer my certificates and told him about the situation but he told me the matter was out of his hand.The thing is I really studied hard during this swotvac period even though they only gave us a week before our first exam, and I had to study for the other subjects that I missed as well.

I want to get a good GPA to transfer universities but I know if I sit that exam tomorrow I will probably fail because it's a hard subject and I'm just lost.

Should I fake sickness and get a medical certificate like food poisoning? What do you suggest? Any other suggestions on what I can do in this situation?

  • 5
    I'm sympathetic, but unfortunately I don't think this question is answerable without a lot of information specific to your situation. We don't know what your university's policies and procedures are, we don't know the medical details or how the special consideration committee evaluated them, we don't know whether you can appeal the decision or how, etc. I certainly wouldn't recommend faking anything (and the fact that you think you could get away with it might explain why the university is not taking these medical certificates as seriously as you would like). Oct 28, 2013 at 14:22
  • 1
    If there's a standard appeals process, you should try using it. Otherwise, there might not be anything you can do, but you could see whether there's anyone you could talk with who might be able to help you navigate the bureaucracy (an ombudsman, advisor, advocate, or the like). Oct 28, 2013 at 14:24
  • 5
    Recovering from a one-month illness in the middle of the semester is nearly impossible. You may be better off withdrawing entirely and retaking everything next semester.
    – JeffE
    Oct 28, 2013 at 17:46
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    I disagree with the off-topic votes; I see a situation similar to this at my university at least once a semester.
    – JeffE
    Oct 28, 2013 at 17:48
  • 3
    I wouldn't call it off topic, but I still think this question is too localized. A question about how to handle a serious illness during the semester could certainly be reasonable, but this question is far more specific. To give a useful answer to this particular question, one would have to have a detailed knowledge of the university in question. (For example, can one withdraw the day before the exam without simply failing the course? I doubt it, but I don't know. What sort of appeals are possible?) The best course of action one day before the exam would probably depend on the university. Oct 29, 2013 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


This isn't an answer, just some points you can consider and some 2 cents:

Given the short time, if I were in your shoes, I'd:

  1. Comb through the student academic handbook about sick leave and how should the makeup examination be scheduled. Look for keywords like "... upon mutual agreement." or "... student and department will decide." etc. and quote that in a written document to urge the committee to honor the wording in student academic handbook.

  2. Identify the chair of the grievance committee. Every department/school should have one, and inform him/her about your situation. Ask for guidance and potential on filing a grievance.

  3. Objectively figure out what are the number of quality days available for a non-sick student to prepare for the tests, and then come up with how many quality days you have been given, minus the ones that you have spent. Ask for the exam to be rescheduled to a reasonable time that would provide a fairground to you. Down play the fact that you "want more time," emphasize on the desire "to be judged fairly." Should the number of days are actually comparable, chance is you really have no ground to delay.

  4. Chat with the admission people and discuss the possibilities on the followings: i) retrospectively request a medical leave (this is more viable if you are on a trimester system or this is a half-credit course, missing 4 weeks might as well mean you have not taken it at all) for this semester, and retake the whole thing again. ii) Negotiate for fee reduction or fee waiving so that you don't have to pay again. iii) Also make sure the half-done course will not end up as F or even appear on your transcript.

  5. If you think you're not being fairly judged, never take the exam. Once a grade is given it's next to impossible to revoke. Inform the school as soon as possible with your reasons (preferably sound and focusing on the lack of fairness), give them a summary of your arguments and what you have talked about with different representatives in the department.

I think, in a sad way, that you only decide to decline one day before the rescheduled date is an extremely bad move. If indeed everyone also had one week to prepare, then it is pretty much done for. When the decision was just made, you can still negotiate for 2-4 more days to collect lecture slides, notes, and meet with the lecturers. Now, it's a bit too late to do that.

In a nut shell, set your worst scenario and figure out what are the things that you cannot afford to mess up. If your first thing is GPA, then strive to make this trimester/semester not counted. The cons: you may need to retake, but given your circumstance, retaking seems a lot more viable than taking an exam. Also, don't position yourself as a victim. It's unfortunate but you're not asking for leniency or special treatment. Show them that you're very conscious about the grade situation and your determination to work through this glitch with the department, and hopefully they will reopen the case.

I wish you best of luck, and if you have time, come back to update us by revising your question.

  • 2
    Thanks for the comment guys, i didn't end up going to the exam and found out that their is another committee in charge of checking or reviewing denied applications. Also i emailed them 9 days prior to the exam and only got a reply from them the day before the exam. Im still new a first year student so i don't quiet know how the procedures work.
    – josh
    Oct 30, 2013 at 1:19
  • @josh, thanks for the update! I hope once this is settled it'd be a smooth sailing. Oct 30, 2013 at 12:25

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