Dear Sandra

Dear Sandra,
I just checked on the gradebook on-line and found out that I failed my final exam! What are my options now? How does a fail affect my degree? Thanks for the help.
B. in Toronto

Dear B.

I can relate; I too have failed an exam. Nobody’s perfect and sometimes you can be completely unprepared for an exam. You could have studied the wrong material, you could have zoned out and forgotten everything you had studied, or the material for the exam was just too difficult. Good news though, you may be able to fix this fail!

First, if you truly feel that you did not deserve the mark you were given on your exam, consult the course coordinator and request that the exam be remarked. After expressing my tale of woe to a fellow student about failing a course, I was told that she too had done poorly on this exact same exam. She did not believe that she should have received a mark of 60%, as she looked up the answers to the questions on the exam when she got home and only felt that she answered a few incorrectly. Sure enough, after requesting that it be remarked she got 80% on that final.

Option 2, if you know you bombed or if your remark is still incredibly low, is to rewrite the exam. Unfortunately, the second time around will cost you $80. You can book a rewrite the same way you book a regular exam, except this time you need to pay. If you book on-line you can pay through credit card, or you can mail in your request with a cheque.

These supplemental exams must be requested no earlier than two weeks, and no later than three months, after writing the original exams. All supplemental exams must be written within one month of their request. After writing a supplemental exam, your final grade will be the higher of the grades received on either the supplemental or the original exam. (From the AU Undergraduate Student Handbook, May 2002, p. 11-12).

Failing an exam can be quite a humbling experience. Don’t worry; try to rectify the situation first. If you still fail the course, you do not get any credits for the course and a fail comes up on your transcript. If it is a core course that you need for your degree, you will need to retake that course. Don’t dwell on the fail, and don’t see it as a sign that you are not cut out for university or this particular area of study. Some courses are extremely difficult and time consuming. Some courses’ exams also account for 60-80% of the final mark! Be prepared!



This column is for entertainment only. Sandra is not a professional counsellor, but is an AU student who would like to give personal advice about school and life to her peers. Please forward your questions to Sandra care of