Failed, underperformed or missed your exams?

Our Advice Service can help you go through your options.

examsFeatured news


At the Student Advice Service, we hope your exams went well, but if things didn't go to plan, it may be helpful for you to understand your options, as most formal processes have deadlines. The options available to you depend on your course and the type of issue that affected your exams.

In the first instance, our Flowchart for processes on examination-related issues could help you identify what options might be available to you. Through these processes, you can let the University know about the issues you experienced and the impact on your studies and exam results.


Mitigating circumstances

If you are an undergraduate student or a student on certain postgraduate courses and you experienced issues such as:

  • A bad cold, the flu or a long-term illness which has recently been diagnosed

  • A recently diagnosed disability for which you did not have reasonable adjustments

  • A flareup of a long-term illness or disability

  • Bereavement of a close one or a family emergency

You or your College Tutor could let the University know of your mitigating circumstances and the impact on your assessments by submitting an examination allowance within three months of receiving your exam results. An application should be supported by evidence such as a letter from a doctor, College Nurse where appropriate, a hospital note and any other available evidence.

Further information on the different types of examination allowances available and the process, can be found in the University guidance notes for examination allowances.

Our resources on examination allowances can help you understand the process independently, guide you through writing your personal statement, and help you gather your medical evidence. 


Issues with the examination

An examination is an assessment that receives marks which count towards your University of Cambridge award.

Some examples of issues with the examination may include:

  • Large amounts of external noise

  • Your reasonable adjustments were not put in place or adhered to

  • Bias during the assessment or the marking process

  • Mitigating circumstances for certain postgraduate courses including illness

  • University’s actions relating to COVID-19 and/or industrial action that affected your exam results

If your exam results were impacted by any of these or you experienced other issues with the conduct of the exam, you can submit an Examination Review within 28 days of receiving your results. Evidence is required and this could be a medical letter, a letter from the invigilator, University regulations, a letter from your Tutor and/or your Director of Studies if applicable, etc.

Further details can be accessed in the University’s procedure for examination reviews.

Our guidance on examination reviews can help you understand the process independently and guide you through writing your application. 


University Complaint

If you wish to raise issues about the academic provision that may have impacted your studies, you can make a complaint through the student complaint procedure. Some examples of issues you could raise are:

  • Issues with the course content or information provided about the course

  • Issues accessing  resources and facilities and/or the standards of service from the University

  • Issues with postgraduate supervision and University teaching

You should raise your complaint as soon as it occurs or within 28 days of the matter arising. Details of the University Complaints procedure can be found here.


College Complaint

If the issue relates to a provision from your College, a College service or a staff member, you will need to follow your College’s complaints procedure. You should be able to obtain a copy of the procedure from the tutorial office or in your student handbook. This includes issues with your college's academic provisions that may have impacted your student experience or your exam results.

Deadlines for raising a complaint may vary from College to College.


None of these options applies to your situation?

Mark checks

If none of the above options applies to your situation and you feel you deserved a different result, you could request a mark check.

You, your Director of Studies or Tutor could contact your department which should have a process in place to provide mark checks. The mark check process should:

  • check that your marks on individual questions/papers have been added up correctly

  • ensure all of your answer booklets have been marked by the Examiners

  • check that any reasonable adjustments relating to the marking of your assessments have been put in place

Information from the University on mark checks can be accessed here.


Exam feedback

According to information in the Examiners Guide students are entitled to gain access to information recorded about them including details of their examination performance. This includes marks awarded to candidates; any interim/transitional marks allocated by individual Examiners and Assessors; and any comments recorded on the examination scripts or other pieces of submitted work. The University is not obliged to return examination scripts to students and the current policy is that requests from individual students to receive their examination scripts should be refused.

Each Faculty will have an Examination Data Retention Policy. You, your College Tutor or the Director of Studies can contact the department administrator who could provide further information on obtaining feedback on exams. 

Further information on exam feedback is available here.


Career support

For career advice, you can contact the University Careers Service which could help answer career-related questions, as well as provide practical support such as improving your CV or enhancing your cover letter.


Have a question or need one-to-one support from a professional Advisor?

You can send us an email with your questions or request an appointment with an Advisor here.


Other news