tjevans (CC0), Pixabay

The situation when a student did not pass the first exam is an ordinary one. There are always a lot of problems with the first exam:

  • it’s the first one, meaning you don’t know exactly how and what’s going on there yet.
  • In the first two courses you study general subjects, such as higher mathematics, chemistry, physics, and so on – yet with the subjects on the specialty all is easier, because of their narrow focus.
  • You do not have time to get used to and find an approach to the teachers.
  • And laziness, of course.

Even the author of this article at one time was almost “expelled” from the university after the first exam because he was poorly prepared. But I graduated, so I can safely say that there is no such thing as a hopeless situation. And if you think that you are in just such a situation, I will help you find the right way out.

Are you sure you’re in the right place?

First of all, pull yourself together, calm down and ask yourself the question: why didn’t you pass your first exam?

If somewhere in your heart you have a feeling that you have chosen, the wrong university or the wrong specialty – it’s a good chance to change everything: to think over the situation and understand what you want to do.

And if you are sure that the university – the right, and the specialty – is suitable, you need to act quickly to save the situation.

Three “tails” – not a sentence.

Somehow it came to pass that three debts are considered to be a critical threshold, after which the student “flies out” of the university. It is not quite like that. There are two reasons for expulsion related to exams:

  • If you failed to pass 80% of your courses during exams;
  • If at the end of the exams, you have failed three or more exams.

These are general principles. Each university has its specifics, its own rules, and its system of penalties. Perhaps, somewhere for three “tails” really expel. But often the acceptable rate of “tails” is different – find out from the seniors or the dean’s office, after how many debts are expelled exactly in your university.

Retake or not?

You can try to retake exams once during exams, and this will not count as a retake. Talk to the teacher in whose subject you are in arrears, and ask permission to retake the exam. The professor could ask you to do something or you can ask him to give you a new task. For example, when I need to retake it I always ask the professor for additional tasks to do my lab report, it helped me to get a higher grade. But this is worth doing only if you are sure that you prepared well – if the teacher will meet you halfway, and you do not pass again, in a real retake you will be morally more difficult.

However, if the exam is over too all is not lost – it’s time to retake. Most often, the number of attempts is limited to three, but it is better to find out the exact number in the dean’s office. There you can also find out when the date and time of the retake. By the way, if other students in your class failed the exam with this instructor, arrange to go to the retake together – in the company of you feel more confident. Do not forget to get a referral from the dean’s office – without this, you will not be allowed to retake the exam.

Exams are over – debts remain.

Sometimes it happens that when students close debts already at the beginning of the next semester, in parallel with the study. But this is rather the exception than the rule, so you should not count on such an outcome.


You cannot be expelled from an institution in two cases:

  • Expulsion has not been approved by the student’s trade union committee (except in cases of academic failure);
  • you have been ill (and have a certificate confirming this) or have taken maternity leave.

If all deadlines have passed and you are still in arrears, you have four options:

  1. Write an application to the dean or provost requesting an extension of the first exams. This is a good option if you have no more than three debts or have a sick note. And it’s not bad if you have a decent explanation for why you “didn’t pass”.
  2. Take an academic leave, during which you and rest, and rethink your plans for the study. To do this, however, you need to get a certificate stating that you were sick for more than one month during the exams.
  3. If you study for free, you can stay in high school, going to the dean’s office with a request to transfer to study for a fee.
  4. In addition, you have the right to go to repeat the semester, but, of course, already on a fee basis.
  5. We advise you not to rush, and come to the dean’s office and discuss your specific situation. In the administration of the university, too, are people, and they may well meet you halfway.

The main reason why students do not pass the first exams – banal inattention or laziness during the study. Try to study well during the semester (we are ready to help you in every possible way), to find an approach to the teachers, and then during the exams, you will be fine. And if the exams did not go well, our tips will help you.