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Dealing with a Deferred Exam

There are times during uni when a medical problem or personal circumstances may prevent you from sitting an exam. When that happens, you may be able to apply to sit a deferred exam.

Often this seems like a gift: as much as couple of months of extra study time, and the sudden feeling like a weight has been lifted. Time to de-stress, fit in some socialising, enjoy Christmas and New Year’s and then when you’re refreshed and prepped, sit the exam.

The reality is very different.

While all of your fellow students are enjoying the start of their uni break, you are still in limbo. Not able to completely relax, or put away those books.

There is the distraction of Christmas shopping and parties, and it seems like the whole world is feeling festive. It’s like you’re at a party where your name shouldn’t really be on the guest list.

Then there’s New Year’s. While your fellow students have already received their grades for that exam and are toasting to another academic year gone by, you haven’t quite got there. You will still be thinking about the exam you’ll be sitting the following week and possibly wishing you had just got it over with like the rest of the cohort.

Obviously there are times when there will be no alternative other than to defer an exam. But life is unpredictable, and the grass is not always greener on the other side. What seems like a trauma at the time of deferring an exam may have been the better evil two months down the track. Life doesn’t stop and sometimes things get worse before they get better.

My message is that preparing for a deferred exam can be lonely, and sometimes those circumstances that prompted you to seek a deferred exam don’t just dissipate in a couple of months’ time.

I’ve finally sat and passed my deferred exam, but my advice to anyone considering applying for one is to think about what it really involves. It can mean not being able to get a job in the semester break, or go away on holidays, or truly celebrate with your fellow law students. In life we don’t have a crystal ball, and sometimes it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

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