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I am in the final year of my bachelor and only need to pass one last course to complete my bachelor. The thing is I failed this course this year. Which means I have to continue for a whole other year just to follow one course which is only given in the last quarter of the year. Since I really would like to start the follow up master after the summer, I applied for an extra resit exam. This has to be done via an exam commitee not via the professor themself.

One of the requirments for this extra resit exam is you participating in all the exam possibilities which were two for this course (just the final exam and then a resit). I however did only participate in the resit for which I had a reason. The exam commitee thought I had a good reason and therefore accepted my request for the extra resit.

Of course when they accept the extra request they then ask the professor to give me the extra resit but you have to arrange a date for this exam yourself with the professors. My course sort of has two professors, one main professor and a sort of "side" professor who gives a smaller part of the course. As the exam committee instructed I contacted the two professors explaining the situation and that the exam committee gave me this resit asking them when it would fit their schedules and apologizing for the extra work load this resit would bring.

The "side" professor responded with that the decision of course has to wait till the main professor gets back (he is out of office for now) but that he is unhappy with this decision and thinks I did not have a good reason for not participating in the first exam and therefore thinks I don't have a strong case at all. Mentioning I expect them to do all this extra work with important deadlines coming up for them.

Now my question is how do I respond to that. I really understand this situation sucks for them and I really don't want to anger him further. So I was hoping to get some advice how to respond to this.

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    Could you clarify whether this is an oral exam or a written exam? Jul 21, 2023 at 10:10
  • The exam is originally a written exam but the exam comittee said that the professors can decide to make this extra resit an oral exam. @JochenGlueck
    – Qwerty123
    Jul 21, 2023 at 11:04
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    To be honest, having an out of the ordinary resit prepared for a single student is a major pain. You got the (binding?) decision of the committee in your favour. Don't anger the prof further by rubbing this in in your letter as written - this will not gain you points. Keep your head down and ask the prof how you can make their job the least burdensome. You can mention that you are happy with any form of exam, even oral, if that is more suitable for them. They know that you will save a year, but your special case is messing up their schedule big time, so show to be appreciative of that. Jul 21, 2023 at 13:36
  • Thank you @CaptainEmacs. The decisions is binding but feels like the professor disagrees. Would this be a better response? "Dear [name professor] thank you for taking time to considering my request. If there is anything I can do to make the organisation less burdensome I would be happy help. I am available all summer and can fit your schedule. I am happy with any form of exam, even oral if that's more suitable for you. Kind regards, [my name]"
    – Qwerty123
    Jul 21, 2023 at 13:59
  • @Qwerty123 Much better. Not sure however how the exam is arranged, so, before making such suggestions, you should probably find out how the matter is going to be organized. Jul 21, 2023 at 17:07

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My opinion is that you need to wait to hear from the course director, and not worry about what some other instructor has said to you.

I've never heard of a "resit" mechanism, and you haven't mentioned what your reason for eligibility for this mechanism is (We don't need to hear it) -- but by your description, you applied for one through some administrative body that is empowered to make this decision, and they decided in your favor.

I suppose in theory, it's even possible that this body that found in your favor has access to more info than the instructor, and based their decision on that extra information. This happens to me all the time in the context of academic honesty hearings. Our committee board hears all the information about a case, and then determines responsibility or non-responsibility, and if responsible, determines a sanction. We are instructed not to tweak sanctions based upon things we don't know. For example, if a student says "If I fail this course, I lose my scholarship (or visa)". We have no mechanism to know if that's true or not -- so the mechanism is for the student to appeal the honesty sanction to the Dean's Office, which is in a much better situation to know whether the assigned sanction has a much bigger impact on the student's life than is merited by the offense, and can mitigate the sanction.

If the course director has any problems with the decision they made, then the course director's recourse is some sort of appeal to that administrative body. If the course director simply refuses to abide by the administrative body's decision, and refuses to give you the exam or count it in your grade, then it seems to me that your recourse is through the administrative body, not through the course director.

All that said, according to your narrative, the course director has not made any decision yet, or at least has not let you (and possibly the administrative body) formally know what they will do, so you have two choices.

If this is time sensitive, and you need an immediate decision, then you should probably email the body that found you eligible for a resit, saying that you have been having issues scheduling your exam as the decision maker is not available. Otherwise, you need to wait to officially hear from the course director. If the course director then refuses to give you your resit exam, or refuses to adjust your course grade based upon the exam, then you would contact the body that said you're eligible for a resit, and ask them to sort things out with the prof.

Other than communicating with the prof about scheduling the resit, which is what you have been charged to do, I would not contact the professor at all. If you get some hemming and hawing from the prof, I would recommend cc-ing communications with him to the appropriate person on the resit committee.

As a last note, your "not happy with me" language may be overpersonalizing. The prof is not happy with the situation. Depersonalize stuff like this. Think of these things as problems you need to get resolved, and not worry about blame and where it may or may not belong. You'll be happier.

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    Thank you for your helpfull response. I have decided to take your advice and will wait for the main professor to get back (he will be back at the end of this month). As for your final note I really appreciate that advice aswell and will think of it the way you described.
    – Qwerty123
    Jul 21, 2023 at 15:41

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