A week ago In one of my classes I e-mail the professor and asked to reschedule one of my quizzes due to illness generated from sleep deprivation, she accepted and was highly considerate of my situation.

Now, due to my intense anxiety & stress of exams (to perform excellently) and lack of sleep for the last couple of days as well, my body is failing me and now I woke up to dizziness (fainting/falling sensation), fluctuating irregular heartbeat, and confusing feeling I can't focus on my work at all...

I'm going to the clinic as soon as it opens in a few hours and the exam is also in a few hours, I feel as if the professor will not believe me but as I visit the clinic to be sure this is not serious, I will ask for a medical note. Will my professor tolerate this again? In our syllabus an exam can be re-scheduled for medical emergencies. I believe this is a medical concern.

I maxed out my body for school too much, trying to do well and sleeping less (creating "more time").

Bear with the writing, I'm not in a perfect mental state...

  • I have, I believe I'd have to wait and see how things go, honestly I am worried now about my health than an exam, I highly doubt my Professor would refuse a reschedule, this is a medical issue, I can't process the material due to this dizzies and irregular heart beat, the only reason I haven't been to the ER is I don't feel it's life threatening, but certainly disabling at the moment. I barely can type things out what takes me a few minutes take much much longer. Taking this exam would mean a huge reduction of my grade due to a medical disability. I cannot ignore this and "take" the exam.
    – Adam99
    Apr 23, 2015 at 9:29
  • what do you think @StrongBad?
    – Adam99
    Apr 23, 2015 at 9:54
  • 4
    @Adam99: I think you should focus on your health now. Even if it's not a life threatening emergency, you clearly do have health issues. You can send your professor a short email if possible, but it's really not that important especially since you yourself think that she won't refuse rescheduling the exam.
    – mort
    Apr 23, 2015 at 10:16
  • 4
    There are three components to this question. 1) Medical advice, 2) Lifestyle advice and 3) the question about administrative consequences of missing an exam due to illness. 1) and 2) are offtopic here, and 3) is subjective (who'll know what this professor will do?) and localized in that it depends on the regulations at your school. So all in all, I think this question should be closed. (That is not to say that your problem is not real, just that this is not the venue to get help. Talk to your doctors and a professional who has experience with stress/burnout situations.)
    – Raphael
    Apr 23, 2015 at 12:08

4 Answers 4


Go to the hospital NOW and worry about the exam and your professor later.

If you tell your professor that you had to go to the hospital, she'll most likely just accept that. Of course, you can ask for that note nevertheless, just in case.

Once you are ok again, think about how you can reduce stress and get enough sleep regularly. On the long run, constant lack of sleep and stress will hurt you (even more than it already did so far).


There are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from preparing for an exam and there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from taking an exam. Those that prevent you from preparing for the exam, but still allow you to take the exam, should be discussed with the instructor as soon as possible. Circumstances that prevent you from taking the exam should also be discussed with the instructor as soon as possible. In some cases the discussion could happen prior to the exam, while in others, the discussion will obviously have to happen after the exam.

What the instructor is willing to "tolerate" is irrelevant. Students need to do what they can do. If you cannot prepare, but can take the exam, then you take the exam unprepared and then follow the procedure for extenuating circumstances that do not allow you to prepare. If you cannot take the exam, then you follow the procedure for extenuating circumstances that prevent you from taking the exam.

The outcome of having an extenuating circumstance that results in you missing an exam might mean you get a zero on the exam, but there is nothing you can do about it. There are many situations where a relatively healthy individual is experiencing symptoms that the recommend course of action is a visit to the ER. The decision on extenuating circumstances will hopefully not depend on what was actually wrong with you, but rather the symptoms that lead you to miss the exam. If you do not feel the condition would be exacerbated by a few hours delay, then it is not clear how you can justify not taking the exam.


This sounds like a potentially long-term problem that could affect all your courses. You should probably bring this up with the people in charge of your degree programme, rather than trying to arrange things each professor individually. Your university's disability office should also be able to help and give advice.


Any academic institution worth bothering with will have a procedure in place to take this sort of thing in their stride. Hand them any sort of legitimate document from someone with medical qualification, and the system should take care of you. Whether or not your professor is prepared to "tolerate" it is irrelevant; the procedure defines what sort of considerations you'll get, and the professor is required to abide by that.

The point of a system like this is to prevent the sort of worry you seem to be suffering from. It's not in anyone's interests for students to be ignoring potential health concerns for fear of academic reprisals, so the system is designed to protect you academically as well as medically. The rule is simple: health comes first, and the academia will make reasonable effort to fit around that.

I developed migraines, chest pains and spiking blood pressure in the middle of my final year of university. I ended up seeing multiple doctors and getting prescribed meds that could leave me unable to focus on anything, let alone my dissertation or exam revision. My advice to you is a combination of what I did, and what I wish I'd done:

  • Work only when you feel able to work effectively.
    This goes for any scenario, even just minor sleep deprivation. You'll get further by not having to go back and fix mistakes you made while tired, ill, or otherwise not thinking clearly.
  • Get to a doctor as soon as possible.
    Two reasons: it's on record that you're seeking medical advice so that you can't be accused of making it up later (it's rare, but better to be covered) and it stops the problem going on any longer than it has to. Many health things are easier to fix if you catch them early.
  • Let the faculty know.
    Tell them that you feel unable to work because of health concerns, that you have a doctor's appointment, and you'll keep them posted. Again, it's easier if you don't pull it out of nowhere right before a deadline. Sometimes that's unavoidable, but if you can avoid it, it helps. If they understand why you're absent and they see you being conscientious about it, they're more likely to overlook a brief absence if the doctors tell you it's nothing. They tend to be much less accepting of unexplained disappearances.
  • Follow medical advice to the letter.
    Don't worry about the work you may be missing: if a doctor says you shouldn't, then don't. The qualification is less important than your health.
  • Keep the faculty advised.
    You don't have to be too specific; feel free to say generic things like "taking medication" rather than "antidepressants", for example. They only need to know the bits that directly impact them; you don't need to tell them anything you'd rather keep confidential as long as they know whether you're able to attend lectures, do your coursework, sit exams etc. Phrases like "unpleasant side effects" and "not feeling up to it" can cover a lot without giving them details.
  • Make reasonable effort to meet them halfway once you're well again.
    A little goodwill goes a long way, and once you're healthy again it doesn't hurt to offer things like catch-up work, meeting with professors to discuss your options, that sort of thing.

In the end, this all boils down to one thing: health first, then work.

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