For the 2020 Fall Term: Engineering students who are absent from class (including final assessments) for any reason (e.g., COVID-19, other illness or injury) and require consideration for missed academic work should report their absence through the online absence declaration. The declaration is available in ACORN under the Profile and Settings menu. Students will also need to complete a final exam petition as described on this web page.
U of T has temporarily suspended the need for doctor’s notes or medical certificates for any medical-related absence from academic participation at the University. Documentation, however, is required for absences related to other (non-medical) reasons; strong documentation typically results in a stronger petition.
Students are not encouraged to write a final summative assessment if they feel their performance will be severely affected by illness. The Examinations Committee is less likely to grant a petition after the student has attempted the exam/assessment.
If you experience internet or computer issues, please collect as much documentation regarding the issue as possible to accompany your petition. Some examples of possible documentation include:
- Taking a picture with a cellphone or camera or taking a screenshot of the issue on your computer. The photo should be time-stamped if possible.
- Report from an outage website, the government, electric utility, your internet service provider, or other sources to confirm internet disruption or power failure.
- Obtaining a letter confirming the outage (e.g., from your internet provider, building manager, etc.).
If a petition is approved, the Exam Committee will assign an accommodation after consulting with the course instructor. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most courses do not have closely supervised work, and, as a result, assessed grades will not always be possible. Deferred exams will be applied when necessary.
For courses delivered remotely due to COVID-19, students are encouraged to write synchronous assessments at the scheduled time, but accommodations will be granted in extreme cases. In particular, if any portion of a timed synchronous assessment is scheduled to take place after midnight or before 6 a.m. local time for the student, then the student will be granted an accommodation upon timely submission of a term-work petition*. Follow standard practice, the academic advisor will determine the validity of the petition and the instructor will select an accommodation.
For final assessment accommodations related to time-zone issues, a term-work petition must be submitted no later than the course drop deadline: November 9, 2020.
Instructors are encouraged to discuss potential accommodations with affected students, but ultimately the instructor has discretion to choose the accommodation. Reasonable accommodations may include:
- Offering a different time slot for the timed assessment.
- Creating an equivalent substitute assessment (e.g., oral exam, take-home exam).
- Requesting that the Exam Committee assign a deferred exam for the student (typically offered during the following term).
*Students petitioning for final exam/assessment accommodations related to time zone issues must submit a term-work petition, as opposed to a final exam petition. These petitions must be submitted before November 9, 2020.
(Updated September 21, 2020)
Sometimes, things do not go as planned. A petition, which is submitted through the Engineering Portal, is your formal request for an exception to a Faculty or University rule, regulation or deadline.
While the information below is considered informal and unofficial, you are encouraged to review it if you are unfamiliar with petitions. Official information can be found in the Academic Regulations chapter of the Academic Calendar. If you have any questions that are not addressed here, please contact the Office of the Registrar.
What is a Petition?
A petition is your formal request for an exception to a Faculty or University rule, regulation or deadline. The University of Toronto acknowledges that students sometimes encounter unforeseen or uncontrollable circumstances that can severely interfere with their ability to fulfill their academic obligations.
Through the petition process, you may seek a resolution for the academic consequences that may have resulted from extenuating circumstances. However, you are expected to make every effort to complete term work and examinations. Petitions that arise from a failure to prioritize academic responsibilities or carelessness will not be granted.
Some examples of reasons you may consider submitting a petition:
- Severe personal illness
- Illness or death of a close family member
- Personal or family crisis
- Other extenuating circumstances
Petitions that concern final examinations should be submitted within seven days of your last exam. Please note that deferred examinations and re-writes for courses in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering are not standard practice. If a petition is approved, the Committee on Examinations will likely assign an assessed mark based on closely supervised term work as compared to the closely supervised term work the rest of the class in relation to their final exam performance.
An exam petition cannot offer you exemption from writing an exam. If you have a legitimate exam conflict (see the Office of the Registrar for a definition) you may be offered an opportunity to write the exam. No exemptions will be given for personal or travel reasons.
Final exam petitions should be submitted through the Engineering Portal. Decisions regarding petitions, once decided, will appear in the Portal.
Final exam: The deadline to submit a petition and the accompanying documentation for a final exam is seven days after your final Engineering exam.
Academic and Personal Advising
If you are having difficulty with a course, you are encouraged to speak with your professor or instructor. However, if your difficulties continue, or if they are out of the scope of what your professor can assist with, please consult with your Academic Advisor.
You should not hesitate to speak with an Advisor to obtain clarification on any rules or regulations in the Academic Calendar. An Advisor can refer you to special services that may assist you with academic, personal or financial difficulties. Students in their first year of studies should contact their first-year Advisor; all other students should contact the academic Advisor in their respective departments. Consultations with Advisors are confidential. You are encouraged to contact your Advisor at the first sign of a problem that could potentially affect your studies.
Weighing the Potential Costs and Benefits of Submitting a Petition
When making a decision about your final exams because of a medical or personal difficulty, consider the following:
- How well you feel at the time of the exam
- Whether or not you can obtain official documentation that confirms your severe illness or circumstance
- How prepared you feel at the end of the session versus attempting to retain the knowledge for a possible later exam date
It's important to remember that the petition process is intended to assist students who are experiencing a severe illness or set of circumstances. Minor illnesses, such as a cold, are not considered severe enough to require accommodation.
Petition and Appeal Documentation
Official Supporting Documentation Requirements
If you are submitting a petition or an appeal, you must submit official supporting documentation to support your case. Official documentation is both a formal Faculty requirement and a necessary tool that assists the Faculty in making a decision. Your official supporting documentation must outline your situation and the dates you were affected. Strong documentation typically equals a stronger petition or appeal case.
Types of Documentation
The supporting documentation you need to attach to your petition or appeal must be relevant to your situation. For example, if you were in a traffic accident, you should submit the police accident report; if someone in your family passed away, you must submit a copy of the death certificate or funeral notice.
The most common piece of supporting documentation that the Faculty receives is the U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form (formerly the U of T Medical Certificate).
A doctor's note, which simply states that the "student cannot write" is insufficient. The Verification of Student Illness or Injury form asks specific questions the Faculty needs answered to gain a better understanding of the severity of your illness. If possible, please have your doctor complete the form at the time of your visit. A verification that indicates the doctor was told of your illness after the fact is typically insufficient.
Please note the successful submission of a completed U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury Form does not necessarily mean the Committee on Examinations will provide an accommodation. The Committee takes the severity, duration and date of the illness into consideration when making a decision regarding a petition.
Potential petition outcomes
Deferred exams and re-writes for Engineering courses are not standard practice in the Faculty. If your petition is granted, the Committee on Examinations will likely select one of the following accommodations to calculate your final grade or standing.
Aegrotat standing (AEG) is granted based on a review of the student’s term work and reason for the petition. On approval of a student's petition, the Committee on Examinations aegrotat standing, which carries credit for the course, but is not considered for averaging purposes. Aegrotat standing is a substitute for assigning an assessed mark; it is considered when three or more final exams were missed or extraordinarily encumbered and the student was clearly passing the course.
If you did not write the exam, an assessed mark may be calculated according to a Faculty-approved formula. The formula considers your closely-supervised term work (mid-term exams, quizzes, etc.) and the class average on term work and the exam. If you wrote the exam under difficult circumstances, your exam mark will be factored into the final decision.
Deferred exams (SDFs) are standard accommodations for Arts & Science, UTM and UTSC exams. Deferred exams are not standard practice in U of T Engineering; however, in rare circumstances, a deferred exam may be assigned if a student was absent from a U of T Engineering exam due to a severe and documented injury, illness or bereavement. SDFs are not typically granted to students who write their originally scheduled exam.
Deferred Exam Scheduling
If you are granted an SDF, it will either be a regular SDF, to be taken the next time the course is offered, or a special SDF, which should be written as soon as possible after the missed exam.
If you are granted an SDF, the Office of the Registrar will notify you, the Course Instructor and your Academic Advisor. The Course Instructor will then draft a new exam.
The exam will likely take place in February for Fall Term exams or June for Winter Term exams. You are expected to be available between 9:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. any weekday during the aforementioned months. Travel plans should be made to accommodate this schedule. Every effort will be made to give you three weeks’ notice regarding the time and location of the exam.
Missed Deferred Exams
If you do not write your SDF and do not submit a petition, the Office of the Registrar will insert your original earned mark into your transcript.
If you miss your SDF for extraordinary reasons, you must submit a petition within one week of the exam period to be considered for a further deferral, which is not guaranteed. If you submit a petition regarding missing your SDF, the Committee on Examinations will review your petition and determine the best course of action.
If you are not granted a further deferral, the Office of the Registrar will insert your original earned mark into your transcript. A third deferral is rarely granted.
Pre-requisite Courses with SDF Standing
If you have an SDF for a course that is a pre-requisite for another course or courses, you must seek permission from the department that requires the pre-requisite before you may continue in the next course. The department may approve or deny the request at their discretion.
Deferred Exam Timelines
If you do not write the SDF by the end of the third term following the original exam date (including the Summer Term), then you must retake the course. In this case, the original earned grade will be inserted into your transcript and your academic standing will be re-assessed based on the original earned grade.
Deferred Exam Fees
There is no cost for the first SDF. However, for any further deferrals, you will be required to pay a $70 fee for each exam sitting scheduled after the first SDF.
If you have not paid the fee by the stated deadline, the Office of the Registrar will cancel the SDF and the student will not be provided with a second opportunity to write the SDF.
If your SDF is cancelled due to non-payment, the Office of the Registrar will insert your original earned grade into your transcript and notify you of your new GPA and academic status.
A retroactive withdrawal (WDR) is a withdrawal from the session after the published deadline for withdrawals has passed. This remedy is considered very rarely and only granted when evidence is shown that the student was unable to drop their courses before the deadline because of severe impairments. Please note that when late withdrawal without academic penalty is granted, a permanent notation of "WDR" is placed on the academic record in lieu of a course grade. No changes can be made to the academic record after a degree is conferred.
While the Committee on Examinations is mindful of your requests for specific accommodation, the request is granted or denied on appropriateness of standard practice.
If your petition is denied, you have thirty days to submit an official appeal to the Faculty. Typically, an appeal will include additional information that was not submitted with the original petition.
Frequently Asked Questions About Petitions
What documentation do I need for a petition?
Any documentation that can verify the facts of your case. Medical documentation will only be accepted on the U of T Verification of Student Illness or Injury form (formerly the U of T Medical Certificate). If you are seeing a physician, please download and print the form for your doctor to complete. If you did not have your doctor complete the form on your original visit, please return and have the doctor complete it.
Other documentation may also be relevant depending on the situation. The more "professional" the individual providing the documentation, the stronger your case will be. Someone unrelated to you and bound by professional standards of ethics is in a better position to provide formal documentation than a relative or friend. If you have any questions about what might be useful, consult the Office of the Registrar.
Why can’t I appear in person to argue my own case?
The Faculty reviews hundreds of petitions a year. The Examinations Committee uses written materials to consider petitions in order to expedite the process and to create a record of activities. If the Academic Appeals Board requests a hearing for your appeal, you will be asked to appear to answer questions about your case.
How long does it take to get a decision?
Even with the large number of petition requests the Faculty receives each session, most are dealt with promptly. The simplest petitions, such as those for missed exams that are accompanied by appropriate documentation, are answered almost immediately. Others take a little longer, but the vast majority of petitions are answered in a very timely way. The Faculty makes a firm endeavor to deal with all petitions within 90 days of receiving the petition and all documentation from the student. If a response seems to be taking a long time, you can follow up with the Office of the Registrar.
Should I wait to view my final marks before submitting a Final Examination petition?
No. A stronger petition is submitted before viewing final marks as it shows evidence the petition is based on circumstances or impairments and not an undesired result.
How will I receive notice that my petition request has been decided?
Decisions for petitions for special consideration and final examinations will appear on the Engineering Portal. You will receive an email advising that a decision has been rendered. If you have difficulties navigating the Engineering Portal please visit the Office of the Registrar.
I've received a petition decision but I don't understand what it means. Who can help?
Petition decisions will state if an accommodation was offered. If you require additional information about your petition circumstances, please see your undergraduate academic advisor. For help understanding remedies and petition procedures, please see the Office of the Registrar.
Will the Examinations Committee "give me more marks?"
There is no approved accommodation that awards higher final marks. If the Examinations Committee grants an assessed mark, your final mark may change according to an assessed mark formula. All other final exam remedies involve non-grade symbols. While the Committee on Examinations invites you to state the desired outcome for your petition and takes your request under consideration, it grants remedies based on appropriateness and standard practice.
I just received "official" final marks but I have a final exam petition pending. Does this mean my petition was denied?
No. Petitions are reviewed after marks become "official." Unless you receive a petition decision, consider your petition still under review.