MBChB Year 4 2012-2013
Extenuating Circumstances
and Fit to Sit
Dr Ed Day
Year 4 Welfare Tutor
([email protected])
What is Fit to Sit?
• By being present at an examination you are
declaring yourself ‘Fit to Sit’ – applies to all
examinations (written, presentations, OSCEs)
• You can not then submit extenuating
circumstances for that examination, unless there
are very exceptional circumstances (e.g., sudden
illness that starts during an examination)
What do I do if I am not Fit to Sit
an examination?
• Inform the SDSO as soon as you can and complete the
Extenuating Circumstances (ECs) form (Deferral of an
Examination) – available on-line or from SDSO & Student
Services Reception
• You can do this up until the published start time of an examination
– requests after this will not be considered
• You must provide acceptable third-party evidence (usually
doctor’s note) – as soon as possible after you have declared that
you are not Fit to Sit (normally within one working day)
• Note: In 2011-12 several students put in the section asking why
they were applying for ECs rather than declaring themselves Not
Fit to Sit “Med School don’t allow it”. All students can defer an
exam at any stage (first sit or re-sit).
What happens next?
Submission and evidence considered by Extenuating
Circumstances Officer (Dr Ed Day)
If approved:
Your sitting of the
examination will be
deferred until the next
available opportunity
If not approved (usually
due to no evidence or false/misleading/inaccurate evidence):
You will be awarded a
mark of 0 for the missed
Important information about
deferring examinations
• Deferred examinations can only be taken in May
(at re-sit time, but as a first sit), or March the
following year
• This may result in you having to take a year out of
the course
• You cannot progress to Year 5 without passing all
Year 4 modules
• The MBChB must be completed in 8 years (7 for
GEC) maximum (excluding intercalated years)
What are extenuating circumstances?
• Significant personal difficulties that affect
learning and/or assessments during the
academic year
• Exceptional and unforeseen events
• New Code of Practice asks for better
evidence of impact and is stricter on what is
allowable. This is vitally important and if it
is not supplied the application may not meet
the University criteria (frequently not done
in 2011-12).
Examples of extenuating
• Significant illness, accident or injury
• Death or serious illness of close family
• Exceptional and unforeseen financial hardship
• Serious family crisis directly affecting you
• If your Mother was diagnosed with bony metastases from a breast
cancer that she had diagnosed and treated when you were in first
year. You had come to terms with the original diagnosis but the
situation has changed. She has been unwell and required extensive
investigation and treatment. You have gone home frequently for
appointments and at weekends to spend time with your Mother. Your
evidence needs to be that your Mother is seriously ill (precise
diagnosis and treatment not required) and that you have been very
worried, have lost time from revision and study to be with her. Your
GP at home may be able to provide this or for your worry your GP in
Birmingham, the Student Counselling and Guidance Service or other
source of support. (You could not have foreseen a deterioration, it is
serious and exceptional).
• If you are suffering from depression and have found that learning,
memory and concentration have been affected as your medication has
taken time to work. Evidence from your GP or other health care
• Your grandfather passed away suddenly. He had lived with your
family since you were young and was like a father to you. You found
it difficult to cope with his death which impacted on your ability to
focus on your studies. You needed support from the Student
Counselling & Guidance Service or other forms of bereavement
counselling during the months following his death.
• If you fell and broke your ankle (unforeseen and exceptional, most
people don’t break a bone in a year) and you missed a week of study
and then were in pain, you should put in an EC form. The impact on
your learning could be the time missed, the difficulty concentrating
when in pain and on medication and the reduced time available due to
physiotherapy appointments. Your GP, who is prescribing the
medication, should be able to vouch for the impact.
Examples of what are not
extenuating circumstances
• Minor illnesses
• Exam stress that is not diagnosed as an illness
• Chosen activities that affect work during the
academic year, e.g., sport, holidays, extracurricular activities, religious observances, paid
employment, charity work
• Chronic illness / disability – reasonable
adjustments can be put in place if needed (go to
Student Support Services or see Year Tutor for
further advice)
You have had ulcerative colitis for 6 years, it is well controlled with
medication. This is a chronic condition that we can make reasonable
adjustments for, it is not unforeseen (you know you have it) and while serious
it is not acutely so. After 6 years you should have accepted that you have
it. Of course if it flared up and you were ill, taking steroids etc, that would be
covered by ECs.
You have been depressed since you were 17, you are on a long term SSRI and
have fortnightly psychotherapy. Again this is something that we can adjust for
(e.g. closer placements, time off for psychotherapy).
Your grandfather passed away after a short (or long) illness– this is neither
exceptional nor unforeseen. Many young people of University age lose an
elderly relative. The duration of the medical degree means that this is sadly a
common experience for students.
Fit to sit is to be used when you feel that you must defer the exam because
you are not well enough to sit it. So, for example you have acute
gastroenteritis. You will need to provide a medical certificate within 1
working day of the exam. Once the exam starts you cannot say, in retrospect,
“I had a headache in the exam, so I couldn’t talk to the examiner...”
What should you do if you have
extenuating circumstances?
• Tell us as soon as you can!
• Complete an Extenuating Circumstances Form
(complete this fully and carefully)
• Provide supporting evidence (inc. impact)
• Submit the form to the SDSO – do not wait until
the deadline
• No-one can raise extenuating circumstances on
your behalf – it is your responsibility (even if
you see your Year Tutor regularly)
What type of supporting evidence?
• Must be contemporaneous, independent
corroborative evidence that includes dates and
confirms the impact on you, e.g.,
Medical certificate / doctor’s letter
Death certificate
Counsellor’s letter
Bank statements
Solicitor’s letter
Police report
PM / Year Tutor report
• We cannot request evidence on your behalf – it
is your responsibility
When should you submit the
Extenuating Circumstances Form?
• As soon as possible after the event!
• Absolute deadlines will be sent by email
• Forms submitted after the deadlines will not be
considered, and cannot be used in an appeal
• Remember to apply early to doctors etc. for
supporting documentation (but you must submit
your form on time, even if your evidence is
What happens to the Extenuating
Circumstances Form?
• Confidentially considered by a small
Extenuating Circumstances Panel
– Graded according to seriousness and likely impact
on your academic performance
• Forms are held in a confidential file separate to
your central student file
• Board of Examiners receives the grading but not
the details of the extenuating circumstances
Why might extenuating circumstances be
judged as not admissible?
• Not submitted on time (we are very strict about
• Lack of supporting evidence, or dates don’t match
• Lack of evidence about IMPACT on YOU and
• ‘Minor’ (not significant, exceptional, unforeseen
• Enduring health/personal issues – should have been
dealt with via reasonable adjustments if needed
Extenuating circumstances can’t…
• Change your examination marks
• Allow you to progress to Year 5 carrying a
failed module
Extenuating circumstances might…
• Allow you to re-sit an assessment as a ‘first sit’
• Allow you to externally re-sit
• In very exceptional circumstances, allow you to
repeat a year
These decisions are made by the
Board of Examiners
What about extenuating
circumstances impacting on course
work essays/assignments?
• These are dealt with via extensions
• To request an extension use the Extension
Request Form (available from SDSO or Intramed
– under ‘E’ in generic information)
• Extenuating circumstances will not be further
considered in relation to coursework
Need further advice?
• SDSO (Claire Maitland)
– e: [email protected]
– t: 0121 414 7830
• Year Tutor (Dr Ed Day)
- Contact via the SDSO
- Personal Mentor
• Advice & Representation Centre (ARC) in the
Guild of Students
Useful website
UoB Extenuating Circumstances and Fit to Sit guidelines
for students:
(or put extenuating circumstances into the search box on
the UoB homepage)
From here you can also download the
Extenuating Circumstances Form
(and the guidelines for completing it)
Take Home Message!
PLEASE come and ask us if you are
in any doubt – we want to help you!
Every year students have to leave because they
didn’t tell us things
Student Development & Support Office (SDSO)
Student Services Centre (opp Library desk)
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0121 414 7830

Extenuating Circumstances and Fit to Sit Presentation for Year 4