2. Exceptional and unavoidable circumstances

You can request a deferred exam if you can provide evidence of a medical condition, or other exceptional and unavoidable circumstances, which prevented you from sitting your original exam at its scheduled date and time.

Your application must include supporting evidence. We will assess your request based on the evidence you provide when you apply. Here's some general advice:

  • Supporting evidence should be in written English (or translated by a NAATI-accredited translator).
  • Statutory declarations are only allowed when you can't obtain the required supporting evidence (e.g. a police report, road service report etc.)
  • Keep original copies of your supporting evidence for at least 6 months. If you fail to produce the original documents, your deferred exam application may be refused or overturned.

The circumstances when you can apply for a deferred exam – and the evidence you have to provide – are outlined below. 

Medical grounds

mySI-net reason: Medical grounds

A medical practitioner must assess your condition and provide a signed medical certificate that covers the day of the examination.

The medical practitioner must be independent. They cannot be a near relative (e.g. a spouse, partner, child, brother, sister, or parent) or a close associate (e.g. a close friend, neighbour, or partner or child of a colleague).

The doctor's written assessment of your condition must state how it affected your capacity to undertake the examination on the relevant date.

Mental health conditions can also be considered under Significant Personal Problems.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A signed medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner, registered nurse, or registered pharmacist.**

You must obtain a medical certificate no later than two business days after the date of the original examination.

If you obtain a certificate more than two business days after the date of the original examination, your doctor must explain how the nature of your condition made it impossible, or unsafe, for you to have obtained a medical certificate sooner.

The medical certificate must:

  • be written on official medical centre letterhead
  • include a provider number and stamp
  • be free of handwritten amendments, and
  • cover the date of the exam.

If you have two or more exams on a single day and you only defer one exam, the doctor issuing your medical certificate must explain why you can sit one exam, but not another, on that date.

** Pharmacists have limited scope for issuing medical certificates. They can only be issued for a certain range of medical conditions and can't be backdated (i.e. they can only be dated for the date you present to the pharmacist for a consultation).


Unacceptable supporting evidence
  • A medical certificate that does not cover the date of the exam or meet the criteria above.
  • A medical certificate from non-medical practitioners (e.g. chiropractors, physiotherapists).
  • A statutory declaration.
  • A Student Access Plan (Disability).
  • A medical certificate for an elective or non-critical medical appointments (e.g. optical, dental).

What if I become sick during an exam?

Illness during an exam is not considered an acceptable reason for a deferred exam, or a one-off discretionary deferred exam.

However, medical conditions that suddenly present themselves during an exam (e.g. an epileptic seizure) are considered exceptional circumstances.

A medical condition will only be considered exceptional circumstances if it is sudden, unexpected and debilitating, and requires exam supervisors to seek immediate medical attention for the student.

The medical condition must be supported by a medical certificate for the date of the examination, and must be obtained that day.

The medical certificate must be provided by an independent doctor or registered nurse – they cannot be a near relative (e.g. a spouse, partner, child, brother, sister, or parent) or a close associate (e.g. a close friend, neighbour, or partner or child of a colleague).

The medical certificate must address the following criteria:

  • the suddenness of the onset of the medical condition
  • your predisposition to the condition
  • the seriousness of the symptoms, and
  • how the medical condition affected your ability to remain and complete the exam.

A medical certificate that only states you were unfit to sit the exam will not be sufficient to demonstrate exceptional circumstances. The medical certificate must address the listed criteria.

Please ensure your medical certificate also complies with acceptable supporting evidence.

Significant personal problems

mySI-net reason: Significant personal problems

In the event of traumatic incidents or significant personal problems, you are eligible to apply for a deferred examination.

These problems might include:

  • significant personal or mental health problems affecting your ability to sit your exam
  • traumatic events
  • being the victim of a crime, or
  • misadventure.
Acceptable supporting evidence

Please provide either:

  • A statement from a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. The statement must confirm how your circumstances affected your ability to sit your exam on the scheduled day, be written on official letterhead, and cover the date of the exam.
  • A police report or a statement from a relevant authority. The report or statement must confirm the occurrence of the trauma, misadventure, crime etc.

Unacceptable supporting evidence

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • Pre-existing mental health conditions that affect your ability to prepare and study for an exam (in these instances, please see Alternative Exam Arrangements).
  • Moving house or changing address (exceptions may exist when the move is sudden and involuntary).
  • Tension with or between parents, partners, or other people you are closely involved with.
  • Financial problems.

Serious illness of a family member or close relative

mySI-net reason: Serious illness of a family member or close relative

In the event of the serious illness of a family member or close relative, you are eligible to apply for a deferred exam.

Acceptable supporting evidence

A statement from a medical practitioner that states:

  • the medical status of the patient
  • the patient’s relationship to you, and
  • relevant dates.

If you are a carer, the medical certificate must state the period that you are required to provide care for the patient.

If you are applying on the basis of your own ill health, please see information under 'Medical grounds'. 


Unacceptable supporting evidence

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • A family member or close relative who has an ongoing medical condition that doesn't directly affect your ability to sit the exam on the scheduled day.

Death and bereavement

mySI-net reason: Death/bereavement

If you are mourning the recent death of a family member or close friend, you are eligible to apply for a deferred exam.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • Death certificate
  • funeral notice, or
  • a letter from the funeral home.

In circumstances when the relationship between you and the deceased isn't immediately clear (e.g. you have different surnames), please also provide evidence of the relationship, such as a:


Unacceptable supporting evidence

A medical certificate is not appropriate if you are applying because you are bereaved.

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • The death or sickness of a pet.

Registered elite athlete – sporting event

mySI-net reason: Registered elite athlete sporting event

If you are an elite athlete representing Australia – or an Australian state or territory – you may be eligible to apply for a deferred examination.

To apply for consideration, you must hold UQ Elite Athlete status for the current semester. See Programs and Assessments for Elite Athletes for more information.

The deferred exam request must be related to a specific sporting event or activity.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A letter written on state, national or international sporting letterhead. The letter must confirm the specific event and dates of the sporting event or activity. The letter must also describe the nature of your sporting commitment (e.g. training, travel etc.) and explain why you can't sit your scheduled exams.

Unacceptable supporting evidence

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • sporting events that aren't at a state, national or international level, and
  • additional holiday time before or after elite sporting commitments.

Elite performer

mySI-net reason: Other, please describe

If you're working at the highest levels as an artist or performer, you may be eligible to apply for a deferred examination.

You must have a specific and significant commitment to a recognised state, national or international cultural or artistic event. These events might include members of:

  • Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
  • Ausdance or Australian Dance Theatre
  • Australian Chamber Orchestra
  • State symphony orchestras
  • Australian Youth Orchestra
  • Opera Australia.

This list is not exhaustive. Performers or artists who are working at similarly high levels are eligible to apply.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A letter on official letterhead that confirms the dates of the event. The letter must confirm the nature of your commitment to the event and explain why you can't sit your scheduled exams.

Unacceptable supporting evidence

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • amateur or community theatre performances, or local artistic or cultural events, and
  • attending performances or cultural activities.

Unavoidable work commitments

mySI-net reason: Unavoidable work commitments

We expect students to tell their employers about their examination commitments at the beginning of each semester.

Employment-related reasons are not usually accepted as exceptional circumstances.

However, we will consider your application if you have been directed to undertake unusual or extraordinary duties that were beyond your control and affected your ability to sit an exam.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A letter on company letterhead from your employer. The letter must confirm the existence of unforeseen and extraordinary work commitments. The letter must detail the date when you were first notified of the unforeseen or extraordinary work commitments, why they were unexpected, and how they affected your ability to sit your exams.

Unacceptable supporting evidence
  • Emails from a colleague about work are not accepted as supporting evidence. Please get your employer to write a letter on company letterhead.

These are not usually considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • irregular casual work
  • increased ordinary work commitments
  • financial problems
  • conference attendance
  • ordinary demands of employment, or
  • increased work or pressures as a consequence of promotion.

Significant family or social commitment

mySI-net reason: Significant family or social commitment

Attending a wedding as a guest is not considered an acceptable reason for a deferred examination.

However, if you are an important member of a wedding party (e.g. bridesmaid, groomsman, or equivalent) or if the event is a significant and important family occasion, you may be eligible to apply for a deferred examination.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A copy of the wedding invitation must be provided. The invitation must clearly show that you are invited to the wedding and that you are a member of the wedding party. If you are not a member of the wedding party, you must provide a copy of the wedding invitation and show evidence of an immediate family relationship (e.g. through a statutory declaration, birth certificate etc.)

Unacceptable supporting evidence

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • being invited to attend a wedding as a guest
  • pre-booked flights to return home
  • pre-arranged holidays or other travel / accommodation
  • additional holiday time before or after a wedding, or
  • reasonably anticipated or ordinary family commitments.

Defence forces or emergency services

mySI-net reason: Other, please describe

If you're a reservist member of the defence forces or an emergency services member or volunteer (e.g. SES, Rural Fire Service) and you are required to render any service, including training, you are eligible to apply for a deferred examination.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A letter or statement on official letterhead, signed by an authorised officer of the relevant organisation. The letter must detail your role within the service, and the start and finish dates of training or activity.

Vehicle accident (not involving medical injury)

mySI-net reason: Accident, not involving medical injury

If you were on your way to an exam and you were directly involved in a vehicle accident, or if your vehicle broke down, which delayed or prevented you from attending the exam, you are eligible to apply for a deferred examination.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A police report and/or other relevant documents (e.g. traffic report, receipt from towing company, insurance claim). The report or documents must include the date, time and location of the accident.
  • A report or document from an automotive road service (e.g. RACQ) or from an authorised vehicle mechanic. The document must detail the time and location of the breakdown.

Unacceptable supporting evidence

Major public transport or traffic delay

mySI-net reason: Other, please describe

Students must allow for enough time to travel to an exam venue and must take traffic conditions into account (e.g. peak hour traffic). All reasonable attempts must be made to plan transport in a way that avoids or minimises travel delays.

However, if there has been a major weather event, traffic accident, or public transport event that caused transport delays – and made you too late to attend your examination – you are eligible to apply for a deferred exam.

Please note that delayed flights are not considered an acceptable reason for a deferred examination. Students must avoid making travel bookings where a delayed flight might compromise their punctual attendance at an exam.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • Evidence from websites (e.g. Translink, Queensland Police, news websites) that outlines the nature of the event, including the date and time of the event.

Unacceptable supporting evidence

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • Delayed flights.

Jury duty

mySI-net reason: Other, please describe

If you have received a jury summons for dates within the examination period, you are eligible to apply for a deferred exam.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A copy of the jury summons. The summons must include the start and finish dates of the jury duty.

Academic commitments

mySI-net reason: Other, please describe

If you have academic commitments directly related to your enrolment and studies at the University – such as a research trip, or an exchange program – and they conflict with your exam schedule, you are eligible to apply for a deferred exam.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A confirmation letter from a relevant staff member. The letter must detail the nature of the academic commitment and how it will benefit your studies.

A University-sanctioned event (mid-semester exams only)

mySI-net reason: Other, please describe

If you have commitments that are closely related and substantially beneficial to your life at UQ, you are eligible to apply for a deferred exam.

Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis. Applications are only considered for mid-semester exams.

Acceptable supporting evidence
  • A confirmation letter from a relevant staff member. The letter must detail the nature of the University-sanctioned event, your commitment to it, and how it will benefit your studies.

Unacceptable supporting evidence

These are not considered grounds for a deferred examination:

  • events of a purely social nature
  • events of minor benefit.

All of these reasons (plus acceptable evidence and relevant information) have been made into a printable PDF (389KB)

Please note that if you make five or more applications for a deferred exam within six calendar months, you will be contacted by the University.

Unacceptable reasons

These reasons are not accepted as extraordinary or unavoidable circumstances:

  • misreading or misunderstanding your exam timetable
  • English language difficulties
  • holiday arrangements or overseas travel
  • not allowing enough time to travel to an exam venue
  • having to sit two exams on one day
  • having to sit exams on successive days
  • an exam timetable that is demanding or personally inconvenient
  • forgetting or not being in possession of your student ID
  • only attempting part of an examination (exceptions apply for sudden onset medical conditions – see information under medical grounds)
  • forgetting or not being in possession of permitted exam materials (e.g. a calculator)
  • losing a few hours' study time in the lead up to an exam (e.g. because of minor events or accidents)
  • difficulty studying effectively or adjusting to the demands of university life
  • normal levels of stress or anxiety associated with exams (accommodations can be made for students with a mental health condition)
  • visa problems.