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What you should know about failing a course

We understand that failing a course can be stressful. However, many students who fail do go on to successfully complete their studies. What’s important is that you know your options and take steps to address the underlying issues which contributed to your result.

1. What effect will failing a course have on my study?

The impact will depend on how many courses you have failed in the recent semester and whether you have failed any courses in previous semesters. 


i) Can I complete my degree if I fail a course?

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Yes, you can continue to study your degree despite failing a course. However, you have to maintain satisfactory academic progress.  

You have maintained satisfactory academic progress if you have:

  • Passed at least 50% of your units for the semester (Semester 1 includes Summer and Autumn sessions; Semester 2 includes Winter and Spring sessions)
  • Not failed the same course for the second or subsequent time.

This means that you will be able to continue your studies without being subject to probation.


ii) What are the consequences if I do not maintain satisfactory academic progress?

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If you have failed more than 50% of your units in a semester and/or repeatedly failed a course, then you have not maintained satisfactory academic progress and will be subject to academic probation (first breach) or possible exclusion from the University (second or subsequent breach). More information about the academic progress process can be found here.


iii) Can I complete my degree on time if I fail a course?

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Failing any course means you may need to study for a longer period of time in order to complete your degree.

We know this is something many students want to avoid. Below are two options for students who wish to complete their degrees on time after failing a course.

Overloading

This is only a possibility in very limited circumstances and you need to meet strict eligibility criteria.

As a general rule, we do not recommend this option. Studying 24 units per semester is the equivalent workload to a full-time job. Taking additional courses will make it even more challenging to pass them all.

Summer Courses

This may be a possibility. However, it will depend on your degree requirements and the courses you wish to take. If you wish to do a summer course, please send a request to info.cbe@anu.edu.au identifying the summer course/s that you are interested in undertaking so that we can provide you with advice.


iv) Do I need to repeat a course that I have failed?

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When enrolling for your next semester, ask these questions:

  • Was the course I failed a required course for my degree? If yes, then you will need to take it again at some point. If not, you may decide not to enrol in that course again.
  • Was the course I failed a pre-requisite for another course I need/want to do? If yes, then you should probably enrol in the course you failed in the next semester it is offered.

If you need advice about your enrolment, please speak to the CBE Student Services Team.


v) If I have questions after I’ve failed a course, where can I get help?

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If your questions relate to your course or program requirements, the CBE Student Services Team can assist you. You can contact them via email at info.cbe@anu.edu.au or by calling +61 (0)2 6125 3807.

If you have questions about being put on probation or require assistance with responding to a ‘Show Cause’, you may wish to contact the Dean of StudentsANUSA or PARSA.


2. What steps can I take to do better in the future?

It is important to take time to consider why you failed. Here are a few of the most common reasons for failing a course and how you can solve them.

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Requirement for better English language skills

  • Join an English conversation group at ANU Libraries or you could start your own!
  • Reduce your study load. You may find that taking a reduced number of courses gives you more time to really focus on the courses in which you are enrolled. Domestic students can drop courses to achieve a reduced study load, but international students must apply to reduce their study load.
  • Practice English every day. Speak only English with your friends, read only English books, newspapers and websites, and watch only English television programs and movies.

Lack of academic skills

  • Ask for feedback from your lecturers and tutors on how you’re going, especially after any assessment.
  • Talk to your lecturers or tutors about things you don’t understand. Ask them for suggestions for extra material which may help increase your understanding, or ways to practice a problem you’re having trouble with.
  • Talk to the ANU Academic Skills and Learning Centre. They offer a range of services that could help you.
  • Reduce your study load. You may find that taking a reduced number of courses gives you more time to really focus on the courses in which you are enrolled. Domestic students can drop courses to achieve a reduced study load, but international students must apply to reduce their study load.

Difficulty with the exam

  • Talk to your lecturers or tutors and ask them for suggestions on ways to prepare for the exam.
  • Talk to the ANU Academic Skills and Learning Centre. They may have workshops or other resources to help you prepare.
  • Go to the ANU Library and find recent past exams for your course. Practice the exam under normal exam conditions and timing. You may like to take one of your attempts to your tutor for feedback. If the library doesn’t have a recent past exam for your course, ask your lecturer whether it is possible to provide one to the library so you can practice.

Having a medical condition

  • If you have an ongoing medical condition, or a condition which is short-term but severe enough that it may require special arrangements to be made so that you can study, you should register with ANU Access and Inclusion.
  • See the ANU Health Service or ANU Counselling Centre to get help managing your condition.
  • Reduce your study load. You may find that taking a reduced number of courses gives you more time to really focus on the courses in which you are enrolled. Domestic students can drop courses to achieve a reduced study load, but international students must apply to reduce their study load.
  • Take program leave. This could allow you the time you need to deal with the situation and return when you are able to focus on your studies. Please refer to program leave rules for domestic students and international students.

Outside pressures (eg. family situations or work)

  • See the ANU Counselling Centre and get support in dealing with the pressures you’re experiencing. ANU Counselling is open from 8.55am to 4.45pm Monday to Friday. If you need to talk to someone after hours or on weekends you can call the ANU Crisis Support Line on 1300 050 327 (voice) or 0488 884 170 (text). These services are happy to talk to you about your concerns and help you work out how to deal with them.
  • Reduce your study load. You may find that taking a reduced number of courses gives you more time to really focus on the courses in which you are enrolled. Domestic students can drop courses to achieve a reduced study load, but international students must apply to reduce their study load.
  • Take program leave. This could allow you the time you need to deal with the situation and return when you are able to focus on your studies. Please refer to program leave rules for domestic students and international students.
  • Reduce the hours that you work.

Updated:   15 November 2019 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team