I am registered as a psychologically disabled student with my University, and (for disability reasons) have asked my professor to allow me to take the exam at a date later than the ordinarily scheduled time. I have not received a response from my professor yet; my guess is that she is hesitant to agree to this exception for several reasons. One, is the notion that I might have some kind of advantage over the rest of the class. Second, should my professor make modifications to the exam (e.g. change problems, make it harder) for my exam, then she may argue that the other students' exams will have to be graded differently from mine, and that's unfair. Third, the exam is scheduled at the normal class time, 10:00 AM - 10:50 AM, so it can be argued that if a student attends class regularly at those times, then there is no reason why the student should need to take the exam at a different time.

My professor hasn't said any of the above (yet) and I don't read minds; this is just my best guess of what she will think of my request. University policy leaves the decision on such an exception entirely up to the professor. (No department in the University has authority to influence her decision. Not even the office of disability services can influence her decision in this case.)

From your experiences at universities, how do most professors typically respond to such exceptions? For you professors, does the exception I'm requesting appear reasonable to you? Are there any other reasons you can think of for why the professor would/should not grant me an exception for the exam?

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    I reposted this under a new name to protect my identity.
    – FoF
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 9:29
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    What is your justification for taking the exam at a later date? You need more time to prepare than others? In some tests (SAT, I believe) students with challenges like yours are simply given extra time. However, the question I would ask any of my students is "Why should you get a different test as opposed to simply getting more time to take the same test as everyone else?"
    – earthling
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 11:38
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    Is your disability accommodation covered by the ADA in the US? If so, does your accomodation specify that you are allowed to reschedule an exam at your convenience? If not, why exactly do you think you are entitled to such an accommodation?
    – Joe Hass
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 1:57
  • @earthling I am not asking for a different test, necessarily, unless the professor wants to give a different one. I just expect she would, because of the possibility that students will talk about the exam.
    – FoF
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 8:31

1 Answer 1


Exceptions can always be made under certain circumstances. Interestingly in your long and detailed question, there is no trace of a reason for requesting a delay other than your general condition, which I cannot see as a reason by itself. The university/department probably has some rules or policies for such cases. There are usually ways for people with different disabilities to take an exam in parallel with the scheduled exam in a a separate room, sometimes with specific tools and help. I can for example see that hospitalization and family funeral can be clear cases for such exceptions.

So if an exception is made, what would you have to expect? To provide exactly the same exam twice seems extremely unlikely for the reasons you provide. So from the teacher perspective, making a new exam is not something to take lightly, it requires a lot of work (if done seriously). In other words, you would get a different exam designed to be of equal difficulty. From a student perspective a new exam can always appear either easier or more difficult based on what and how well you have studied but in general, the exam would not intentionally be made more difficult.

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    no trace of a reason for requesting a delay — Nor should there be! The request was apparently channeled through the OP's university's disability office, who is charged with determining whether accommodations are appropriate. The specific condition that justifies the accommodations is none of the instructor's damn business (or ours). That said, I agree with @earthling's comment on the original post — requests for extra exam time and a less distracting exam environment are fairly standard; requests for extra preparation time are not.
    – JeffE
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:04
  • Where in "... and (for disability reasons) have asked my professor to allow me to take the exam at a date later than the ordinarily scheduled time" do you read "channeled through the OP's univesity diability office"? Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 17:31
  • "Not even the office of disability services can influence her decision in this case."
    – JeffE
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 18:38
  • @JeffE I agree with Peter Jansson. If a student in the US is entitled to an accommodation under the ADA then the instructor must provide that accommodation. Since the OP said it is at the instructor's discretion I am assuming that this is not part of an ADA accommodation. The instructor is well within their rights to ignore such a request, particularly without justification. Providing accommodations beyond ADA requirements is not fair to other students.
    – Joe Hass
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 1:53
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    @Necron It is not details about your condition that matters but rather what conditions the university provide to you that interests me. If they provide possibility to take exams late is quite different from you requesting a late exam for other reasons. So it is not the detail of the reason but whether or not it is part of your plan with the U. that makes a difference to how to relate to the problem o the exam. Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 11:30

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