Deferred exams – what you need to know


A reasonably common presentation to the health service at this time of year relates to deferred exams.

The typical scenario is a student who experiences a medical or personal issue at the time of their original exam, where the medical or personal issue was something they couldn’t have forseen or prepared for.

If that student was unable to sit the exam or only able to sit for part of the exam, they can apply for a deferred exam – basically do the exam at a later point, during the deferred/supplementary exam period (in December).

Applications for a deferred exam are done online –

Four things to note about this:

  1. Applications for a deferred exam must be submitted no later than three (3) business days after the exam. For example, if you miss an exam on Monday, you must apply for the deferred exam by Thursday.
  2. If you actually rocked up on the day and attempted the exam, you will not be able to get a deferred exam unless you left the exam early and got a signed Early Departure Form from the ‘invigilator’. An invigilator is an exam supervisor who monitors the exam to ensure everything is done by the book. You will have to find them and get them to sign an Early Departure Form in order to be able to apply for a deferred exam.
  3. If your reason for missing an exam is medical in nature, then you will need to get a medical certificate from a GP and submit that as part of the application.
  4. If your reason for missing an exam is an event out of your control (e.g. car accident, illness of a partner or child) often referred to as ‘compassionate grounds’, then you will need to provide some verifiable evidence of that event. Often that will be a note from a GP.

If you missed an exam because of a exacerbation of an existing condition, then you will need a) evidence of the ongoing condition (e.g. disability plan, letter from treating professional) and b) evidence that the condition was indeed activated or worsened at the time of the exam (GP note, treating professional note).

I know some of these guidelines sound a little tough, but the reason they are there is to protect those students for whom unexpected and unpredictable crap happens to them on the day of the exam. Life is very good at throwing us challenges in the least opportune moments. The deferred exam process is there to protect those for whom it happens on exam day.


Relevant policy:

As is often the case in these kinds of things, when you complete the online form, you are directed to read the ‘policy document’ related to it.

Policy documents aren’t known for being either particularly easy to navigate or read.

However the policy stuff in relation to deferred exams is fairly straightforward.

Rather than you have to go searching for it, I’ve pasted it below.


9.6 Deferred Assessment

9.6.1 Deferred assessment for a topic in which a student is currently enrolled may be approved for medical and compassionate reasons in appropriate circumstances.

9.6.2 A student who is unable to sit or remain for the duration of the original examination due to unexpected or exceptional circumstances may apply for deferred assessment.

9.6.3 If unexpected or exceptional circumstances prevent the student from sitting or remaining for the duration of a scheduled supplementary or deferred examination, or from submitting by the agreed deadline a supplementary or deferred assessment exercise, the student will be either:
• awarded a result in the topic of Withdraw, Not Fail (WN); or
• offered the opportunity to demonstrate competence through an alternative mechanism.

9.6.4 If unexpected or exceptional circumstances are demonstrated to persist up to the commencement of the next academic year, then the student will be awarded a result in the topic of WN.

9.6.5 Deferred assessment may involve written or oral examinations, prepared papers or practical work, or any combination of these consistent with the stated assessment requirements of the topic.

9.6.6 The full range of grades will be available for deferred assessment.

9.6.7 Centrally administered deferred examinations for Semester 1 will be held prior to the commencement of Semester 2 and for Semester 2 or full year topics will be held prior to the commencement of the following academic year.

9.6.8 Schools may make other arrangements for deferred assessment (to be administered by the School or Faculty) provided this is by mutual agreement between the Topic Coordinator and student(s) concerned and provided that no formal examination is set during a teaching period which might interfere with a student’s studies in another topic. Such deferred assessment should take place at a time as close as possible to the original examination.


9.7 Application for Deferred Assessment

9.7.1 Applications for deferred assessment must be made on the standard form available on the University’s website or from the Examinations Office or Faculty Offices and lodged through the Faculty Office with the Secretary of the appropriate Examinations Board(s) within three working days of the examination or Faculty deadline for assignments.

9.7.2 Where the nature of the applicant’s problem prevented the applicant from applying within the stipulated time, or if the student is enrolled in a topic delivered off campus, either as part of an offshore program, or through print, or ICT, or other means, Examinations Boards may accept such applications more than three working days after the examination or Faculty deadline.

9.7.3 Part B of the form must be completed by a doctor when the application is for medical reasons, or by a doctor or other appropriate professional when the application is for compassionate reasons, and forwarded to the University.

9.7.4 Faculties will advise students of the outcome of their application for deferred assessment no later than ten working days after the final day of the assessment/examination period for Semester 1 topics, and before the end of the calendar year for Semester 2. In the case of non-standard semester topics, Faculties will advise students of the outcome of their application as soon as practicable following the receipt of the application


9.8 Unforeseen or Exceptional Circumstances

9.8.1 Unforeseen or exceptional circumstances are those which are beyond the control of the student and/or for which there was no opportunity to prepare in advance.

9.8.2 Unforeseen or exceptional circumstances may include, but are not limited to, the following circumstances:
• illness of the student or a close relative;
• unanticipated personal circumstances of a compelling nature;
• unanticipated and significant work-related circumstances of a compelling nature; and
• sporting commitments for recognised elite athletes.

9.8.3 Discretionary activities or circumstances within the student’s control, for example attendance at sporting events (with the exception of approved elite athletes with sporting commitments), holidays, family celebrations and other discretionary travel, and/or other foreseeable events will not normally constitute grounds for an extension.

9.8.4 Examples of unforeseen or exceptional circumstances are provided in sub-clause 9.8.2. Approval is not limited to these examples if acceptable evidence is provided.

9.8.5 Supporting evidence for unforeseen or exceptional circumstances must be verifiable.


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