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What are Extenuating Circumstances and how do they work?

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You’ve probably heard of Extenuating Circumstances and how they’re the key to getting essay extensions or being allowed to re-sit exams. But do you know what actually constitutes as an Extenuating Circumstance, or how to apply?

In the first year of University, I battled with a sprout of depression. My main concern was the fact that I was missing my lectures and seminars, and subsequently, my academic performance was seriously declining. As a fresher, I was nervous about applying for Extenuating Circumstances because quite frankly, the process sounded a lot scarier than it actually was.

Firstly make sure you have a valid reason before applying for extenuating circumstances, as even though it would be great to just skip a deadline because ‘you couldn’t be bothered’ it won’t class a reasonable excuse! There are a number of grounds that you can apply for Extenuating Circumstances such as illness, mental health problems, the death of someone close to you or personal/family problems. However it’s important to remember, that you will need to provide evidence to back up your Extenuating Circumstances claim in the form of a letter or certificate. In my case, I had to seek an appointment with the University counselling services who were then able to write a letter to the Exam board supporting my claim. In the case of death or personal problems, letters from family members can also be used.

Some Extenuating Circumstances can also relate to the 2010 Equality Act, and therefore come under a Protected Characteristic. If your claim relates to factors such as gender, religion, marriage etc. then you’re eligible for Extenuating Circumstances, as long as you provide evidence.

The process itself simply involves filling out a form explaining your situation, and adding supporting evidence. You’ll be able to find a copy of it on Learning Central, under your school’s learning hub and if not, all you need to do is drop an email to your school or personal tutor about forwarding you a copy.

After you’ve submitted the form it will be sent to the examining board, and they’ll decide whether or not your circumstances make you eligible for a re-sit or extension. This process usually takes 2 to 3 weeks. It’s really important to make sure you apply for them as early as possible as some schools refuse to take applications too close to a deadline date.

You can also apply for Extenuating Circumstances after an exam or submission, if you feel that something was affecting your performance. Your lecturers and tutors want you to perform to the best of your capability as it also reflects on their teaching, so you should never be anxious to tell them something was affecting your academic performance. Remember, at the end of the day we’re paying a lot of money for our education so we need to make the most of it.

It’s also incredibly useful to speak to your personal tutor before applying for Extenuating Circumstances. Although the situation may not be their problem or fall under their expertise, they can guide you in the right direction and make sure you get any help you need.

Deadlines are coming up and exam season is just around the corner, so knowing how and when to apply for Extenuating Circumstances is really important! If you’re still a little apprehensive as to whether or not you should apply, definitely speak to your tutor.

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