Archived: Final Exam Deferral: What you need to know

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As exams approach and the student stress machine starts kicking into high gear, we thought it was time to bring back Imogene Roulson, one of the experts at the SAMRU Student Advocacy Office, to drop some knowledge on the ins and outs of Final Exam Deferral. Take it away, Imogene!


It is that time of the year again—exam season. Regardless of whether or not you are graduating or heading into another semester at Mount Royal, exam season can come with a host of concerns. If you are experiencing personal illness or injury, or if you experience severe emotional distress during this time, deferring one or more of your exams might be the right choice to alleviating stress and ensuring your health.

There are broadly two main circumstances in which you can defer an exam:

  • Personal illness or injury: usually an illness or injury that requires either the care of a doctor or hospitalization.
  • Severe emotional distress: this can be brought on by bereavement (a recent death involving family/friends), a mental health condition/concerns, a car accident, sexual assault, or a recent health diagnosis (Note: This is not an exhaustive list of reasons a person might be experiencing severe distress).

There are other kinds of circumstances in which it may be okay to request a deferral:

  • If you have more than two final exams scheduled on any calendar day.
  • Illness or emergency that happens during an exam (if you experience illness during an exam, go directly to Health Services, Room U220).
  • Unavoidable or unanticipated demands in caring for a dependent (likely defined as a child/children/or other family member).
  • The Chair may also consider other compelling reasons for deferring an exam that were beyond your control. One example might be a traffic delay/back up that was unavoidable, causing a delay in your arrival or missing the exam writing time entirely.

When things begin to go wrong and you find yourself doubting whether or not you’ll be able to attend a final exam, it’s time to think about communication. Who needs to know this information? What steps can you take to find a solution?

In order to defer an exam, there are some important steps that you need to take:

  1. Contact your instructor ASAP to let them know that you need to defer the exam.
  • TIP: Sending an email gives you a record of the date you requested the deferral; save this email in case you need it later.

2. Contact the department where the course originates (if you’re not sure, here is a listing of the departments at MRU).

  • If the final exam you’re trying to defer is for a course within the Bissett School of Business, here is a direct link to the form they require you to fill out.

3. Fill out the required form for the department (you can request the form be emailed to you at your “mtroyal” email address).

4. Ask the department what documentation they require from you in your circumstance. For example, if there was a death in your family, the newspaper obituary might be adequate documentation. The kind of documentation the department requires will depend on why you need to defer the exam, so it is very important you ask!

5. Submit your deferral form, along with the required documentation, by the stated departmental deadline if there is one.

After you submit your deferral, check with the department to find out if your deferral has been approved, and the new date, time, and location of your deferred exam. The authority to grant or deny a deferred final exam belongs to the Chair of the department.

One last, very important thing that you should know about Exam Deferrals: if you write the exam, hand it in for marking, and later report that you were experiencing distressing circumstances, a request for deferral will not be considered.

If you have further questions about Exam Deferrals, don’t worry! We have an information sheet that you can read over to help you. If you still have questions or wish to speak to someone to know if this path is the right one for you, you can contact Andrea Davis, the Student Advocacy Coordinator, at

For more on Exam Deferral, consult the MRU 2016-17 Academic Calendar (p.33).