Failing a Course or Illness

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Failing a course

If you fail a course, you may wish to consult with an advisor in Arts OASIS to discuss your options. Depending on the type of course (required or elective course), the grade ("D", a conditional pass, "F", failure, “U", unsatisfactory or “J”, unexcused absence), your performance in your other courses, and the surrounding circumstances for the failure, there are three alternatives:

  1. Repeat the course
  2. Take a different course to earn credit for the one you failed
  3. Apply to write a supplemental examination (see below for info)

If you repeat a course for which you have already earned a grade of "D", you will only receive credits for the course once.

Please note: Grades of D , F or J continue to be used in the CGPA/GPA calculation even after you repeat the course or take a supplemental examination. Information on how the CGPA/GPA is calculated can be found here.

Special note about Supplemental Exams:

Supplemental Exams aren’t always appropriate to your academic situation, and in some instances may actually hinder your degree progression. Review the information on the website, and meet with a Faculty Adviser to go over your options.

Required Courses
If you fail a required course for your program, you should consult with a departmental advisor about modifying your course selection. For example, you should not take Calculus II if you have failed Calculus I.

Required courses must be passed with a "C" or better. You must either repeat required or prerequisite courses in which you received a grade of less than "C", OR you may choose to write a supplemental examination (see note, above).

Prerequisite Courses
If you fail a prerequisite course for your program, you should consult with a departmental advisor. You may need to repeat the prerequisite course in which you received a grade of less than "C" OR you may choose to write a supplemental examination (see note, above).

Complementary Courses
Ordinarily, you are not required to repeat complementary courses, although that is an option. You also have the option to take a different complementary course to count towards your program requirements, in consultation with a departmental advisor, or write a supplemental examination (see note, above).

Elective Courses
If you fail an elective course, you may take a different elective course to earn credit towards your BA degree. There is no academic reason to retake a failed elective course to improve your grade.

Repeating a course for the third time
Normally, you are permitted to repeat a failed course only once. Failure is considered to be a grade of less than C or the administrative failures of J or KF. To attempt a required course for the third time, you are strongly urged to meet with your Arts OASIS Faculty Academic Advisor so as to determine if you should continue in your academic program. If the failed course is a complementary course for your program, you may choose to replace it with another appropriate complementary course with permission from the departmental program adviser. If you choose to substitute another complementary course for a complementary course in which a D was received, credit for the first course will still be given, but as an elective. If you repeat a required course in which a D was received, credit will be given only once.


Illness during a course or exam

Missed assignments

If, due to illness, you have missed assignments or mid-term examinations, contact your professor and try to make alternative arrangements. At the start of the term, you were provided with a course outline for each of your courses which should be available to you on myCourses. The course outline provides you with the method of assessment for the course, information on how to contact your course instructor as well as information on late submissions and/or acceptable circumstances for extensions.You should be prepared to provide medical documentation if you are requesting special accommodations. Examinations for multi-term ("D1/D2" courses) courses during the Fall semester final examination period in December are treated as mid-terms and alternative arrangements must be made with the professor.

If you have fallen too far behind to catch up in a course, you should meet with an advisor at Arts OASIS to discuss your options. Depending on your situation, you may be able to request a late course withdrawal, an exam deferral or an extension on your coursework.  An advisor can help you go through all the possibilities, find the best solution based on your circumstances and figure out what the steps involved would be.  As a BA student, all requests for late course withdrawals and deferred exams will be handled by Service Point.

To meet with an Advisor, please refer to our Contact Page to book an appointment. 

Missed final exam

If you have missed a final examination (one that is on the Final Exam Schedule and held during the final exam period), you can request permission from Service Point to write a deferred exam.  Medical documentation may be required to support your request. The medical note must cover the date of the missed examination and indicate the nature and duration of the illness.  You can find details on the deferred exam policy here. If the missed final examination is a take-home exam that appears on the Final Exam Schedule, you will need to apply for a deferred exam on Minerva. If it is approved, you must contact the professor to agree on a time frame and deadline to submit the take-home exam.

If you become ill during a final examination, tell the invigilator that you are ill and be sure that an Incident Report is completed.  You must visit McGill Health Services or another clinic/doctor right away to get medical documentation regarding your illness.  You must submit your medical note to Service Point within one week after the examination and apply for a deferred examination.

You can find details on the official Exam Regulations here, under "Illness during examinations."

If you complete the examination normally or simply walk out of the examination without notifying anyone of your situation, the grade you receive will remain on your record and cannot be changed.  You should not begin an exam if you are too ill to complete it.

McGill's Health Services has very specific procedures for issuing medical notes. Please review these carefully here.

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