My professor had said the midterm was 2.5 hours. This was told by all the students for weeks. The midterm comes, and there is no countdown for when submission is required, thus meaning the midterm is unlimited. I followed academic integrity and submitted at 2.5 hours; however, many students were submitted at 3+ up to 4 hours. I did not have enough time to finish 2 questions (10 marks total), because I submitted them at the correct time. This caused me to fail the course by 0.28%, meaning I would have needed 1.5 marks on the midterm to pass. This will result in me being held back a year and retake the course. My professor had not made a bell curve, neither a grade adjustment for the error she had made because there was "statistically no significant difference between students who submitted early and those who had extra time."

My question is, what are some reasonable courses of action in this situation?

  • 8
    IMO asking readers of this forum their opinion is not useful. More useful would be to ask for concrete recommendations about what to do in this situation. Have you already contacted the professor with a respectful, appropriately detailed e-mail? Do you have an "ombudsman" or "ombudsperson" at your university (a neutral party in charge of handling complaints)? Are there academic advisors at your university you could speak to?
    – Ben Bolker
    May 21, 2021 at 21:41
  • 6
    If the professor cut it off at 2.5 hrs, how would that have helped you? It might punish other students, but how would it help you? What do you think should be changed and why?
    – Bryan Krause
    May 21, 2021 at 21:42
  • Actually, I'm wondering if there were other factors that led to the course failure. The mid term seems to have been a while ago, but the failure only shows up now? Perhaps you were close to failing in any case.
    – Buffy
    May 21, 2021 at 23:08
  • 3
    In case you don't know, I wanted to point out that you are allowed (indeed, encouraged!) to edit your question to make it more on-topic. (If you deleted the last two sentences and replaced them with "What are some reasonable courses of action in this situation?" (or whatever) - and possibly responded to some of the other questions that people have asked in the comment - I would reverse my downvote and post an answer.)
    – Ben Bolker
    May 21, 2021 at 23:14
  • 1
    Welcome to Academia.SE. I edited your question a bit for the reasons described by the commenters above -- we don't take questions asking for opinions, but we can perhaps suggest possible next steps (and this is probably more productive for you in any case; an endorsement that we agree with you will count for little). Good luck.
    – cag51
    May 22, 2021 at 1:57

2 Answers 2


Let me restate what happened:

  1. The professor informed students of the exam rules.
  2. You followed the rules and failed the course.
  3. Other students did not follow the rules.
  4. The professor, as far as you know, has not punished the students who did not follow the rules.

Certainly, the professor should have punished students who did not follow the rules. I would expect that students who turn in an exam late would get a grade of zero. However, punishing other students will do nothing about the fact that you have failed the course.

Your reasonable course of action, as the student, is to retake the course.


Perhaps it’s better that you first ask yourself what is it that you want from this situation. Imagine a world where your every academic wish regarding this situation is fulfilled; what would you ask for? Is it achievable or realistic? Do you want to retake the test? Get 2/5/15 extra points on the test? Get a passing mark? Get the professor fired? Get your fellow students disciplined for breaking the rules? If you think about your goal here (and make sure it’s not just vindictive/abstract justice you’re after) it’ll be much easier to understand what you need to do.

I think your best case scenario is a passing final mark, but I don’t know what’s the norm in your school.

With this desirable outcome in mind, think what you can do to fulfill it.

If you have proof that students submitted late with no good reason (eg internet connectivity issues), then you could certainly contact the professor and complain. They may offer you a chance at extra credit. They may ignore you.

The situation you describe is precisely why some professors rarely accommodate requests for extensions from my students. It’s not very fair to the other students who don’t ask for one.

If you can show that some students got a massive unjustified extension but you didn’t there’s a chance that the professor will be forced to resolve the issue somehow, especially if your university has a strong culture of backing students. However, I imagine that it’ll be difficult to find evidence for such behavior. You could escalate your complaint through whatever channels the university offers, but it’s going to be tedious and may not lead to a good outcome.

Finally, it’s quite possible that you simply don’t have all the facts. Maybe your fellow students had accommodations. Maybe their internet disconnected; maybe they started late for whatever reason.

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