REDUCING EXAM EXTENSIONS

Policy revised to discourage misuse

Historically, OUM has had very liberal policies regarding quiz and exam extensions. With a student body of largely non-traditional students, many still working and many with families, the unexpected happens. It is inevitable.

“Even though we don’t encourage rescheduling, we understand it can’t always be avoided,” says Dr. Paula Diamante, Director of Preclinical Education and Faculty. “Sometimes, circumstances like illness, a family issue, work emergency, or technical problem necessitate rescheduling of a quiz or exam.”

Despite attempts over the last two years to tighten the exam extension policy, its flexibility continued to be abused by a small group of students who repeatedly submit requests.

“Continually having a few days more to prepare for an exam than your peers becomes blatantly unfair,” says Dr. Diamante. “It also jeopardizes exam integrity by leaving the exams within the testing system longer than intended.” As a result, the Academic Board and OUM Council recently approved exam extension policy revisions which take effect in Term 2104, late this month.

Some policies new, some unchanged

Policy revisions were made to align more closely with those at longstanding medical schools, the most significant being:

  • Elimination of skipped exams. No exceptions.
  • Reduction of allowed extension requests from five each year to three.
  • Elimination of skipped quizzes. Again, no exceptions.

The mandatory meeting with the Academic Adviser remains a requirement to discuss current obstacles and document a plan for overcoming them before a student can submit an extension request. Completing the online form and providing complete supplementary documentation has been emphasized – doctor’s note, supervisor’s note, OUM support ticket, and/or Respondus ticket.

“Documentation is key. Requests which are not supported with the required documents will not be accepted. An illness requires a doctor’s note, job interference needs a note from the employer, etc.,” says Dr. Diamante.

* Note:  The need to upload all supplementary documentation as one document remains the same – the system can only support one document.

Denials and Appeals

Reasons for denial of request:

  • Request was not relevant or consistent with University policy (i.e., if meeting with the Academic Adviser did not take place, evidence of a viable mitigation plan was not provided, reasons given were insufficient)
  • Necessary supporting documents were not provided or were incomplete
  • Request would exceed permitted maximum extensions
  • Technical issue was not confirmed by Respondus or OUM IT

Rejected requests may be appealed to the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) via specialconsideration@oum.edu.ws. Students who exceed three extension requests are required to appear before the SAC and may be required to take off a term to organize and execute a study plan and/or to resolve other outstanding issues.

Extension pitfalls, even if approved

Keep in mind that if your appeal is granted, time will have passed so you will likely be taking the quiz or exam at the same time as you are taking another. Studying for two exams in one week may be stressful and may lead to poorer results than if the first one had been taken at its allotted time. If the appeal is not granted, and the student does proceed with taking the exam during the original time period, s/he may receive a failing grade for the exam.

“The key to addressing any problem and seeking a resolution is to confer with your Academic Adviser as soon as issues begin,” says Dr. Diamante. “We hope that continuing to refine this process will help students with true emergencies and discourage those who are tempted to use the extension as a crutch to postpone their quizzes or exams.”

(June 2021)