In Oxford - Sheldonian Theatre
In Oxford - Sheldonian Theatre

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 more detailed Student guidance on problems submitting work or attending an exam.

Extensions before the deadline

If you become aware that you will need more time for a piece of submitted 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.  
  • If you decide to submit your work prior to receiving confirmation of your extension request the extension will become void and the original deadline will apply. 

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 accessed an open book exam paper. If you become unwell during an exam you should submit a mitigating circumstances notice to the examiners.

Incorrect submissions

Information on what to do if you have submitted your work to the incorrect location, or have submitted the wrong document is available on the Submissions page.

Submitting an online exam response late – for ‘handwritten/upload’ and ‘mixed mode’ online exams 

If the mode of completion for your online exam is ‘handwritten / upload or ‘mixed mode, you will have an additional 30-minutes of ‘technical time’ built into your overall exam time in Inspera. This technical time is for you to scan and upload your exam response(s) to Inspera. You are expected to use the full 30-minutes of technical time for this – you must not leave it until the last few minutes to upload your exam response(s) 

If you experience technical difficulties that mean you are unable to upload your response(s) to Inspera, you should contact the Online Exams Support Desk as soon as these difficulties are resolved, by completing the Online Exams Help form. You may be asked to provide more information about why your exam responses are late. 

Replacing an incorrect exam response – for ‘handwritten/upload’ and ‘mixed’ mode online exams 

Always check your responses to an online exam carefully, before you press ‘submit now’ and send them to your examiners. If you do identify, after you have submitted your responses, that you have uploaded an incorrect or unreadable file, contact the Online Exams Support Desk by completing the Online Exams Help form. They will explain any next steps you need to take.  

‘Typed’ mode online exams 

If the mode of completion for your online exam is ‘typed’, you are expected to type your answers directly into Inspera, where they will be automatically saved.  

If you decide to work outside of Inspera (with the intention of copying and pasting your answer into Inspera before the end of the exam duration), you do so at your own risk. Any work not entered into Inspera by the time your exam ends cannot be accepted for marking. 

If you lose your internet connection during a ‘typed’ online exam, you can continue to type into Inspera. If you are offline when the exam ends, you will be able to download a record of exam responses as a .ia file. This is an un-editable file which contains only answers completed within the exam duration. You should then contact the Online Exams Support Desk, by completing the Online Exams Help form 

Further guidance for online exams can be found on the Online Exams page.   

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. you can submit a mitigating circumstances notice to your examiners (MCE) either directly or via your college or your department if you are a non-matriculated student.

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. For technical instructions on submitting an MCE notice please refer to the Student self service manual, page 54.

  • You may submit an MCE directly in Student Self Service. You can also submit an MCE via your college, or department for non-matriculated students, if you need the MCE to be raised on your behalf.
  • You are encouraged to submit one main MCE for each University Examination, however you can submit a further MCE if new circumstances have arisen since you submitted your first.
  • You should submit a statement in support of your MCE to explain in a clear and concise manner how your performance in assessment has been impacted (either in the box provided or as an attachment) along with supporting evidence. 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) can submit an MCE on your behalf but you will need to supply them with your statement and supporting evidence.
  • Notices should be submitted as soon as possible after completing the affected assessments and must be received prior to noon on the day before the exam board.
  • The examiners will consider your mitigating circumstances and any supporting documentation.
  • 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.

Academic appeals

  • Concerns about the conduct of university exams - raise concerns with your senior tutor.
  • If, following such a discussion with your department or college tutor, you have a concern 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 appeals procedures in the University regulations.
  • If you are a graduate research student you should raise your concerns with your director of graduate studies.


  • Concerns about the circumstances that affected the teaching or tutorial support on your course should first by raised with your department/faculty under stage one of the complaints procedures. 
  • If, following such a discussion you feel you want to take matters further, you may make a complaint to the Proctors within 3 months of the incident occurring.  
  • Please refer to the Student Complaints procedures in the University regulations.
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