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Informal appeals – Frequently asked questions

Not happy with your exam results? We have answered your questions about the informal appeals process.

Remember: you have 15 working days from the release of results to lodge an informal appeal.

Q Can I review my exam paper?

Yes, it is your right to review your exam paper. Some faculties and schools have a set timetable for exam review sessions, and you may be required to apply to attend the review session. Make sure you follow the instructions outlined in the notice to review exam papers that your faculty will email to you. You will not be able to discuss your answers during the exam review session. 

Q I just found out I failed my final exam. Can I talk with my unit coordinator?

Yes, you may contact your unit coordinator to request feedback. Before you contact your coordinator attend your exam review session if possible. 

Q My faculty won’t allow review of multiple choice questions. Why?

The University makes rules to manage educational integrity risks. If you have concerns about not getting access to your multiple choice exam script, contact your faculty’s Associate Dean for Education. For further feedback on your exam paper, and to better understand areas for improvement, contact your unit coordinator.

Q At the exam paper review I was not allowed to take notes or photos. Why is this not allowed? 

The University wants to minimise the risk of exam questions and papers being distributed.

Q What can I do if I can’t attend the scheduled exam paper review?

If you are unable to attend, email your unit coordinator and request another time to review your paper.

Q Why should I wait until after I’ve reviewed my paper before submitting my appeal?

Attending your review session will give you an opportunity to understand the marking and written feedback. You can use this feedback to have a more constructive and informed discussion with your unit coordinator.

Q What am I looking for at the exam paper review?

You will be given approximately 7-10 minutes to quickly review the paper, so the important things to look for are:

  • Are there marks given against each question, and written feedback?
  • Is the calculation of the total marks correct?
  • Are there questions that you think you answered adequately, and that you may be able to argue for a higher mark?

Q What if the exam paper review is after the informal appeal deadline?

Don’t wait for the exam paper review date. If you require further feedback or an explanation about your mark, email your unit coordinator within the informal appeal deadline. You can lodge an informal appeal to your unit coordinator within 15 working days of the release of results on Wednesday 10 July (this makes the deadline for lodging an informal appeal Wednesday 31 July).

Q I just reviewed my exam paper but there were no comments and just a total mark. Can I ask for more information?

Yes, you can contact your unit coordinator to request feedback on your exam or the marking of your exam paper. University assessment policy states you have a right to understand your assessment marking and be provided with feedback to allow you to make improvements. Your unit coordinator may request you send an informal appeal if you require further feedback. 

Q I have reviewed my exam paper and I am still not satisfied with my results. When and how do I start an appeal?

You may lodge an informal appeal to your unit coordinator before 31 July, (i.e. 15 working days from release of results on Wednesday 10 July). Check the University student appeals website for information on how to write an appeal. This website will also outline if your faculty has specific appeals guidelines. For example, the Business School uses a File Note, which is their version of an online informal appeal form. Some unit coordinators offer a meeting for the informal appeal stage, so you may request a meeting by sending an email. Make sure to use the subject line ‘Informal Appeal’ in your email.

Q Who will review my informal appeal?

The unit coordinator for your subject will review your informal appeal, or they may delegate a tutor or another academic to do so. The person who reviews your informal appeal should provide their name and contact details.

Q How long will it take for a decision on my informal appeal?

The University policy does not provide a time frame for an informal appeal decision. However, if you do not receive a decision within one week we recommend you respectfully email the unit coordinator and ask when you will receive an outcome to your appeal.

Q One of my tutors treated me badly during semester. Can I use this to appeal my grade?

All University staff are expected to demonstrate professional and respectful behaviour towards all students. Grades are awarded on academic merit and the University uses anonymous marking. If you think you have been treated badly by a tutor, you can lodge a complaint. We recommend you make an appointment with a SUPRA caseworker for assistance in writing a complaint. Email help@supra.usyd.edu.au to make an appointment.

Q What is a re-mark?

A re-mark is where your original answer, paper, or assessment is marked again. This could be by the same marker or a different academic. Your grade may stay the same or be adjusted. It is possible for to lose marks if your assessment is re-marked.

Q Can I still appeal if the faculty states that my paper and grade was checked by multiple markers?

Yes. 

Q I got 49 so why can’t the faculty award a conceded pass grade?

The University of Sydney does not allow for a conceded pass grade. If you received 49 you should review your exam paper and request further feedback or consider an appeal if you believe you have grounds to appeal. 

Q Do I need to use special language in my appeal letter?

No special language is required in an appeal letter. 

Q Does SUPRA have a list of acceptable/strong appeal arguments? 

No. We recommend that you write clearly your reasons for believing that your paper was incorrectly marked and/or you deserved a higher mark according to marking criteria. Be specific about which exam responses you are appealing against and clearly explain why you disagree with the mark. 

Q Can I argue that my exam performance was affected by illness, emergency or a personal problem?

Serious illness or misadventure are not grounds for an academic appeal, but you may request a late application for special consideration for the exam. In your application you will need to explain your reason for applying late and have appropriate medical documentation relevant to the date of the exam.

Q I failed a subject but I had lots of health issues last semester. Can I ask for special consideration?

If you have appropriate medical documentation that covers the period of your exam and a good explanation for the delay in application you may submit for a late special consideration. If you had ongoing health issues throughout the entire semester, you may consider applying for a DC grade for the unit of study instead of applying for special consideration only for the exam.

Q Can I apply for special consideration and resit the exam?

Yes. If your special consideration application is successful you will be allowed to sit a replacement or supplementary exam at a scheduled date.

Q Can I argue that it is too expensive for me to retake this unit, or that I need to graduate on time due to visa/career/family/health reasons?

Unfortunately, although these experiences may be true, they are not grounds for an appeal.

Q Will submitting my appeal before the 15 working day deadline help my chances of a successful outcome?

No. However, making an informal appeal as soon as you can means you should get answers to your questions or concerns sooner. Hopefully this will allow you more time to reflect and consider your next steps.

Q Where can I find the assessment criteria?

Check your unit of study outline. If you need a copy (or you’re not sure what a unit of study outline is), contact your unit coordinator.

Q How do I calculate the 15 working day deadline?

You calculate 15 days from the date the University releases results (Wednesday July 10), not counting weekends or any public holidays. This makes the deadline Wednesday 31 July. The 15 days does not start from when you personally looked at your exam results.

Q I’ve submitted my informal appeal. What can I do while I wait?

We understand it can be stressful when you are waiting for your outcome. There is nothing more you can do, unless you have waited for at least one week, then we suggest you politely follow up with your unit coordinator. 

Q This is my final unit and my final semester. Can I do anything to speed up the decision-making process?

If the outcome is taking longer than one week you may contact the unit coordinator and explain your situation and even ask if they require further information to help in making a decision.

Q I don’t think the unit coordinator likes me. Can I informally appeal to someone else?

In most cases an informal appeal will be directed to the relevant unit coordinator.

Q I already contacted my tutor/lecturer/unit coordinator about why I think I deserve a better mark. They replied and I am still not satisfied. Does that mean I have already informally appealed, and what else can I do?

If the decision (unsuccessful outcome) also refers you to the academic appeals policy, this concludes the informal appeal stage. Also, if your unit coordinator replies to your request for feedback/request for change in mark, and does not invite further discussion you can assume this is the conclusion of the informal appeal stage. You now have the option of lodging a formal appeal to the faculty where it will be reviewed by a senior academic.

Q Can I ask SUPRA for assistance in my appeal?

Yes. We are happy to offer advice and to review your written appeal document. You will find detailed advice on appeals and special consideration by accessing the SUPRA help pages. To request further assistance contact us by email help@supra.usyd.edu.au or phone (02) 9351 3715.

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