Problems completing your assessment | University of Oxford
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Problems completing your assessment

There are a number of University processes in place to help you if you find that illness or other personal circumstances are affecting your exams or other assessments. This page includes details about the different processes available. More detailed guidance including FAQs is available in the Student guidance on problems submitting work or attending an exam document.

Extensions before the deadline

If you become aware that you will need more time for a piece of work, you can apply to the Proctors for an extension. The Proctors can grant extensions to make up for time lost through ‘illness or other urgent cause’. If you need more time for submitted work due to a disability or chronic condition, you should discuss with your college or department.

  • Extensions can be applied for up to 4 weeks before a deadline. Wherever possible you should submit an extension request in good time before a deadline.
  • The amount of time you should ask for must relate to the study time you have lost through ‘illness or other urgent cause’ and has to be supported by the evidence you can provide.
  • You will only be granted the amount of time lost, not the time you would necessarily like to be able to complete the work.
  • The maximum total length of extensions that can be granted for the same piece of work is 12 weeks.  

Extensions after the deadline

Wherever possible you should request an extension before the submission deadline. If this is not possible, you can apply to the Proctors within 14 days of your deadline for an extension.

The Proctors cannot consider extension requests submitted more than 14 days after the submission deadline.

If you have evidence as to why it was not possible to make an application before the 14 day cut off you may be able to apply to Education Committee, via your college or department, to dispense you from this requirement. A separate decision would then be made on your original extension application.  

Excusal from exams

If you can’t attend an exam due to ‘illness or other urgent cause that is unforeseeable, unavoidable and/or insurmountable’ you may submit an application for excusal from an examination up to 4 weeks before the exam and up to 14 days after the exam. If you are excused from an examination, the exam board will decide whether you can be classified on the work you have completed or whether you need to take the exam at a later date.

You cannot be excused from an exam if you have attended any part of the exam or if you have downloaded an open book exam paper. If you become unwell during an exam you should submit a mitigating circumstances notice to the examiners.

Incorrect submissions

It is your responsibility to submit the correct piece of work to the correct location.

If you realise you have submitted work to the incorrect location, it is your responsibility to forward the submission to the correct location. If this is after the deadline, it may result in a late penalty.

If you realise you have submitted the incorrect file, you may withdraw and resubmit work on one occasion before the submission deadline, without the permission of the Proctors. 

 If you wish to withdraw and resubmit after the deadline, you must apply to the Proctors within 7 days of the deadline (students in Continuing Education should apply to the department). In most cases, permission to withdraw and resubmit will only be permitted if:

  • The file submitted is corrupt and cannot be accessed; or 
  • The declaration of authorship is missing; or 
  • You have submitted the incorrect file (e.g. a draft, other piece of work); and 
  • You can demonstrate that the document you wish to submit in its place has not been modified since the original submission deadline. 

Mitigating circumstances notices to examiners (MCE)

If you believe your performance in assessment has been seriously affected by circumstances related to Covid-19 and/or serious personal circumstances such as acute serious illness, chronic illness (including mental health conditions) bereavement etc. submit a mitigating circumstances notice to your examiners (MCE) via your college or your department if you are a non-matriculated student.

You can also use the MCE process to explain to examiners why your exam response for an online open-book exam was submitted late.

Submitting an MCE

Before submitting your notice you can seek advice from your college office or your department if you don’t have a college. You should carefully read the guidance for students on the Consideration of mitigating circumstances by examiners and the new student impact statement guidance

  • Request to start a notice in Student Self Service giving a brief description for your College Office (or department for non-matriculated students) to review, ie “illness during exam”. This description will be sent to your college in an email please do not include confidential details in this description. One your request is approve this will then create an MCE and you can go back and add information.
  • The most important part of your MCE is the statement you provide. This year you are encouraged to submit one main MCE supported by a student impact statement using this proforma based on the student impact statement guidance. This should be uploaded to your form as ‘supporting documentation’ – make a note in the candidate statement box that you have uploaded a statement.
  • You can however submit more than one MCE if you need to and you should submit a separate MCE if you need to explain why your online open-book exam response was submitted late – you do not need to submit a student impact statement for this type of MCE and can use the ‘candidate statement’ box on the online form.
  • Along with your statement you can submit supporting evidence. You don’t have to provide independent evidence, but if you do have any evidence that you think would help examiners understand your circumstances and the impact they had on your ability to study and complete assessment you can include it. Evidence could include – medical certificates or letters, statements from college officers or tutors, statements from a counsellor or other support person. Any additional information should be uploaded as supporting documentation (2MB file limit per document). Please make sure that any supporting documentation submitted with your notice is not password protected as this will prevent your notice from being processed.
  • Your College Office (or department for non-matriculated courses) will review these details and submit your notice for consideration by the examiners for your course.
  • Notices must be made as soon as possible after completing the affected assessments, and before they are marked. Notices need to be submitted within three days of your last exam or submitted work deadline.* For example if you last exam is on the 3 June you must submit your MCE by the end of the 6 June.
  • The examiners will consider your mitigating circumstances and any supporting documentation very carefully during the exam board meeting.
  • You will be able to view the outcome of your MCE via the results screen in Student Self Service when your year outcome has been released.

*Notices received after this deadline will not usually be forwarded to examiners. However, in exceptional circumstances, the Proctors may agree to forward such notices to the board of examiners.

Complaints and academic appeals

  • Complaints concerning the conduct of university exams or circumstances that affected the teaching or tutorial support on your course - raise concerns with your senior tutor.
  • If, following such a discussion, you have a complaint about procedures not being correctly followed during an exam, or you have reason to believe that your exam was not conducted fairly, you may make an academic appeal to the Proctors.
  • Please refer to the Complaints and Appeals procedures in the University regulations.
  • If you are a graduate research student you should raise your concerns with your director of graduate studies.
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