Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ask the Blogger: Slept through Final Exam

Ask The Blogger:

I accidentally slept through my exam, which is worth 50%. Should I ask my professor for a redo, or would that look bad?


You should absolutely ask. The answer is probably “No”, but there is small chance of “yes”.

The one thing you should do is be honest, admit to the mistake, and see if there’s another administration of the exam possible. It helps if you already have a good rapport with your professor, attended office hours, asked intelligent questions, and demonstrated your willingness to do the work and learn.

If you try to BS your way through it, you’ll be flat-out rejected. Professors get this all the time. There’s a joke going around about the effect exams have on grandparents’ health in that they tend to die right around finals week, and somewhat surprisingly, a single grandparent will occasionally die more than once. Lies will absolutely come back to haunt you to the end of your career in that department.

If you’ve never talked to them before, you won’t get anywhere, either. It’s very easy to point to the clock and remind you that the information was in the syllabus that you obviously hadn’t read and that the course would be offered again. It’s harder for them to do that if they know that you have been working hard and been involved with the course.

Don’t get angry. You screwed up.

Don’t complain. It’s your fault.

There are no excuses that will work here. Only an explanation and a hope that there was some reason that an alternative final was already planned, and that you’d be allowed into that session.


Sadly, the answer was "no" but, in the long run, it all worked out for our student. They retook the course, got straight As, and found that this paved the way for a degree path that was much more fulfilling. Later, they found themselves doing research with that professor, earning second-line mention on the resulting paper.

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