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Special Consideration in Final Examinations

Students waiting for class

What is Special Consideration?

Special Consideration is the process by which the University seeks to ensure just and equitable treatment of students who suffer unexpected and significant impairment (e.g. serious illness) in relation to assessment. Special Consideration provisions are available for both internal assessment (i.e. an assignment or in-class test) and final examinations.

Special Consideration is governed by the University’s Examination and Assessment Regulations. Under these regulations, there is no provision for Special Examinations of any kind to be provided outside the Special Consideration process. 

Special Consideration in Internal Assessment

Special Consideration in Internal Assessment is granted by the relevant Head of Department, and will normally only be granted where impairment is significant. If you are concerned about impairment in internal assessment for a paper, act sooner rather than later. Check the Course Outline for advice on Special Consideration processes for the paper concerned, and if you are still unsure what to do, talk to your course coordinator.

Special Consideration in Final Examinations

Special Consideration in final examinations is available to students who are:

  • prevented from sitting an examination due to unexpected circumstances beyond their control, or
  • significantly impaired in their examination performance, and/or
  • significantly impaired in their preparation for an examination (within 14 days of the examination concerned).

Examples of the types of unexpected or significant circumstances which Special Consideration is designed to cover include:

  • serious illness or injury
  • severe psychological impairment
  • bereavement of a significant other
  • critical personal circumstances involving the health or wellbeing of a relative or close friends
  • other exceptional circumstances beyond your control (e.g. natural disaster, damage to significant property, impacts arising from being the victim of a crime, etc.)

It is important to note that impairment will not always result in Special Consideration being granted – impairment must be significant, and have a significant effect on your examination, for Special Consideration to be granted.

Special Consideration is not available for:

*Where applications are repeatedly made for the same or similar reason, then the application may be declined on the grounds that the reason is not unexpected.

The following sections provide further advice about the application and assessment processes for Special Consideration in Final Examinations. You may also find it helpful to consult the Frequently Asked Questions.

How to apply for Special Consideration in Final Examinations

Candidates seeking Special Consideration for all programmes in Dentistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Radiation Therapy, Medicine and Physiotherapy and postgraduate programmes in Health Sciences must apply here. Candidates in all other programmes (including HSFY students) should apply following the process outlined below.

Applications can only be made through your eVision student portal. To make an application:

  • log into the eVision student portal
  • go to Examinations and Results
  • click on “Apply here” under section 2, “Consideration due to your examination performance being affected by serious illness or exceptional circumstances at the time of or in the 14 days immediately prior to the examination”
  • complete the details and explanation, and attach electronic copies of appropriate supporting documentation (see below)
  • continue to select the papers you wish to apply for
  • if the exam has already taken place, the “effect on exam” will already be correct
  • if the exam is yet to take place, please confirm whether you will sit the exam (i.e. will be impaired), or if you will be absent
  • submit your application – if you do not receive a portal notification to confirm your application has been submitted, you have not applied for Special Consideration

Please note:

  • If supporting documentation (see below) is not available by the five calendar day deadline, please make an application regardless. You have seven calendar days from the date of your application to email the documentation to examinations@otago.ac.nz
  • If relevant documentation has been completed by Student Health, the Health Declaration will be forwarded to the Examinations Office and uploaded to your application for Special Consideration on your behalf.

Supporting Documentation for Special Consideration in Final Examinations

Appropriate supporting documentation is required to provide evidence of your circumstances.

  • All applications based on medical impairment (illness, injury or mental health) must be supported by a University of Otago Health Declaration. It is strongly recommended that you see a Health Professional (preferably Student Health) at an appropriate time, i.e. when the symptoms of your illness or injury are apparent. Complete Part A of the Declaration yourself and have Part B completed by the Health Professional.
  • In cases of bereavement, appropriate evidence may include a death notice. Where the notice does not mention you by name, you should provide a letter from a funeral director, minister of religion, kaumatua/kuia or the police to confirm your relationship with the deceased.
  • For all other exceptional cases, the nature of the supporting documentation will depend on the circumstances, but might include police reports or a letter from an appropriate third party (e.g. Airline or Government Department). Contact the Examinations Office for further advice.
  • In all cases, a Supporting Statement is recommended and should be completed by an appropriate third party who can confirm the circumstances of your impairment. It is best that this person be independent of you (i.e. not a friend or family member), but it is essential that they be able to verify your circumstances and this should take priority. In some cases it may be appropriate to seek verification from a Head of College, academic staff member, or a staff member in a relevant student support service.

Deadline for applying for Special Consideration in Final Examinations

Applications must be made within five calendar days of the last examination for which you are seeking Special Consideration. Late applications cannot be accepted through your eVision student portal if the five calendar day deadline has passed.

No Special Consideration applications will be accepted after the official release of confirmed results.

Review of a Special Consideration decision

If your application for Special Consideration was declined, you may ask for the decision to be reviewed. To do so you must write to the Manager of Student Administration (at examinations@otago.ac.nz) within five calendar days of the date of the portal notification of the decision, outlining the grounds upon which you are requesting review. It is recommended that you provide additional information that further supports your application.

Please note that Student Health or other health providers should not be approached about altering a previously provided assessment that has been recorded on a Health Declaration for Special Consideration form.

Assessment of applications for Special Consideration in Final Examinations

The first step in assessing a Special Consideration application is review by the Examinations Office, who will determine whether Special Consideration will be granted. This involves assessing whether the evidence you have provided is sufficient to support your claim of impairment, and if so, determining whether the circumstances you describe would have had impacted on your examination(s) enough to justify Special Consideration being approved.

If impairment is insufficient, your application will be declined and you will be notified via your eVision student portal.

If impairment is sufficient, Special Consideration will be granted for the examination in question, and your application will be forwarded to the relevant academic department to determine an outcome (see below). Please note that the department does not have access to the specific information contained within your application, only that Special Consideration was approved.

There may be some delay between your application being approved and you being informed of the academic outcome. This will normally be communicated following the examination period and you will be advised via your eVision student portal.

Note that regardless of the academic outcome, any paper for which Special Consideration is approved under the first stage above, will be marked 'SC' on your academic transcript.

Possible outcomes if Special Consideration in a Final Examination is approved

Departments will determine an academic outcome, taking into account your previous performance in the paper and/or other papers you have sat.

They may choose from the following outcomes:

No change/No action

There are two common situations in which departments may choose not to alter your results:

  • No Change - your mark on the exam is the same (or higher) than what was expected based on your internal marks for the paper and/or marks in other papers, or
  • No Action - your internal marks were very low, or no other outcome was justified.

Mark adjustment

If the recommendation is for you to receive a mark adjustment, your Academic Transcript will be updated and this will override the original result you received for that paper.

Special Examination

A Special Examination is a new examination which allows the student's performance to be assessed without significant impairment. Special examinations are administered by the Department teaching the paper concerned and may be held sometime after the examination period, but where possible, will be scheduled before teaching commences in the next semester. If you sit a Special Examination your final result will be the best result out of your Special Examination and your original examination.

Aegrotat Pass

An Aegrotat Pass may be awarded, as long as your internal marks are well above the minimum standard to pass the paper (usually a C+). An Aegrotat Pass has no mark or grade awarded, and so will be excluded from your official University of Otago GPA. This could have implications for you if you intend to apply for scholarships, admission to some restricted courses, or study at other institutions. If you wish to discuss this further, please contact the Department teaching the paper concerned.

Departments may also offer a student the choice of a mark adjustment or a Special Examination, the original result or a Special Examination, or the choice of an Aegrotat Pass or a Special Examination.

Examinations missed through preventable circumstances

The University has a provision whereby, if a finalist or postgraduate student misses a final examination through genuine error (such as mistaking the time or date of the examination), they may apply to sit a Special Examination. For all other students there is no special provision to facilitate a chance to sit their examination at a later date.

Applications must be made in writing to the Manager, Student Administration, no more than five calendar days after the missed examination. If your application is approved, the prescribed fee of $200 is payable prior to sitting a Special Examination.

This provision is not part of Special Consideration, and papers to which this applies will not be marked with 'SC' on the student’s transcript.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I sit my exam?

If you do not sit your examination your application must be supported by documentation from either your Health Professional or an appropriate third party to confirm that you were prevented from sitting your examination at the time of the examination itself.

If you require advice on your particular situation, please contact the Examinations Office.

What should I do if I don't know whether or not I'll be sitting the exam?

You can wait until the day of the exam, or up to five calendar days after the exam, and then apply - you don't need to apply for Special Consideration prior to the exam.

Can I make more than one application?

We strongly recommend that you make one application for all the papers you wish to apply for. However, if you need to add papers after making an initial application you can submit a second application (see below).

Can I add a paper to my application?

If you have already submitted an application, you won't be able to add a paper to your existing application. Please submit a new application for just that paper within five calendar days of the exam for which you are applying, and include appropriate supporting documentation relevant to that paper.

Can I change something in my application?

There is no facility for you to edit your application once it has been submitted. If you wish to make a change to your application, please contact the Examinations Office.

What do the different application outcomes actually mean?

  • Approved: you meet the criteria for Special Consideration for all or some of the papers that you applied for, and your request for Special Consideration will be forwarded to the relevant Department teaching the paper to determine an outcome
  • Declined: your application did not meet the criteria for Special Consideration, and no further action will be taken
  • On hold: we are currently holding your application for a set amount of time to give you an opportunity to provide further information or we are awaiting a Health Declaration from Student Health

Not all the papers I applied for were approved - why not?

This means that the documentation that you supplied did not verify that you met the criteria for Special Consideration for those papers that were declined. It is important to note that each examination is assessed separately, and impairment which is significant in terms of one examination may not be significant in terms of another at a different time.

I was given the choice of a Special Examination and an alternative assessment method. What happens if I don't make a decision by the deadline?

If you have been offered a choice between a Special Examination and another outcome, e.g. to keep your original mark, accept an adjusted mark, or accept an Aegrotat Pass, you have eight calendar days from the date of your portal notification to make the choice. If you don't select your preference by the deadline we will assume that you do not wish to sit the Special Examination. Student Administration will update your Academic Transcript if the other choice was an adjusted mark or Aegrotat Pass. If your choice was between retaining your original mark and sitting a Special Exam, no changes will be made to your Academic Transcript. You will receive a portal notification once the result has been finalised.

How do I arrange my Special Examination?

Once you’re notified that you have been granted a Special Examination (or, if you are given a choice, once you have decided that you would like to sit the Special Examination), you need to contact the Department immediately. Your Special Examination will normally be sat in Dunedin, but the time, date, and venue won’t appear on eVision, so you need to correspond with the Department in plenty of time for this to be arranged.

My application for Special Consideration was accepted, but my marks for the paper are quite low. Why is this?

Depending on the academic outcome recommended by the Department teaching the paper, you may not be notified of the outcome until after the official release of confirmed results. Until you receive an alert in your eVision portal notifying you that your Academic Transcript has been updated, the original result will display. If you are to sit a special Examination, the original result will remain blank until the result of the Special Examination has been confirmed.

I intend to graduate in December this year. Is there anything else I need to know?

If you are a finalist and have applied to graduate in December, you may not be able to graduate until the Special Consideration process is complete. Please contact the Student Records Office for advice.

I applied for Special Consideration for a paper that’s a prerequisite for a paper I’m enrolling in next semester. What effect will this have on my studies?

If your result hasn't been finalised in time for course approval, this will affect your enrolment. Further information is available here.