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Struggling with university work? Help is available

October 28, 2014

Failing an exam is always a crushing disappointment. Getting a meagre 35% when you’re used to a flush of top marks is disheartening to say the least. Just what went wrong?\r\n\r\nEqually if you feel swamped with a module you just don’t understand, it’s easy to believe that you’ve picked a subject that just isn’t ‘for you’.\r\n\r\nFinding your work challenging (in some cases too hard to get a great mark) is a natural part of being at university and almost all graduates will tell you they had a module that they just couldn’t get to grips with. If you have to do a re-sit it isn’t the end of the world, however knowing where to get help when things go wrong (or just asking for support before they do) is must-know information for any student.\r\n\r\nDon’t panic and know that options are available. From supportive one-on-one sessions to knowing what to do when personal issues stop you from sitting an exam, university tutors have a duty to make sure their students are happy with their workload.\r\n\r\nHere we’ve outlined what happens when your course doesn’t go to plan and what options are available to you. Your university will probably have their own extra classes and policies too, so don’t be afraid to ask.\r\n\r\nNow let’s get those ‘firsts’!\r\n

Failing an exam

\r\nFirstly, if you’re struggling, speak to your tutor or your student services department. From one-to-one advice to extra seminars or assigning a student mentor, there’s lots of help available.\r\n\r\nYou will take 120 credits every university year, so if you fail one module (10 or 20 credits) in first year, then you might not have to re-sit. This is called a conceded pass and you will need to speak to your university tutor to determine exactly what will happen if you’ve failed one module. However, be honest with yourself, would that module help with second or even third year modules? If so, understanding the content and resitting the exam is important.\r\n\r\nIf you fail an exam and a conceded pass isn’t an option, summer resits take place in August. However, resits aren’t always an uncomplicated option – at some universities you may have to prove that you had a good reason for not performing well in the exam.\r\n\r\nAlways attempt every module even if you don’t feel like it is particularly relevant to your course of study. Not completing an element of your course can make it very difficult to convince tutors that you’re serious about your degree at the end of the academic year.\r\n\r\nResitting exams is a perfectly natural part of university life – while you should aim for the best marks you can get, there’s no shame in re-siting to boost your grades.\r\n

Switching course

\r\nIf you feel like you’ve picked the wrong course or you may have changed your mind about your career path then discuss this with your tutor. In many cases, switching to another course the following academic year is entirely possible – if you want to stay at the same institution you probably won’t have to reapply through UCAS either.\r\n\r\nIf you are doing a dual degree (for example, French with History) then switching to just one subject may also be possible if it’s early on in your first academic year.\r\n\r\nIt is very important that you get the necessary support if you’re an international student. This will allow you to check that you have funding in place and that you can stay the duration of your course if you want to change courses.\r\n

Deferring assignments

\r\nIf you’ve become unwell or a personal problem has made concentrating on academic work difficult then speak to your tutor, head of department or student services as soon as possible. From short extended deadlines to longer-term solutions, telling them as soon as you start to fall back allows you to put a plan in place that may allow you to defer your work until the following academic year.\r\n\r\nWhile this will increase the pressure during the next academic year, it can mean that you don’t have to skip a year or risk failing when you’re not prepared to sit your exams.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nHere we’ve focused on UK university policy, however if you would like any information about studying in Canada, the US, Ireland or Australia, please get in touch or visit our ‘Study In’ pages.