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I Slept Through a College Test—Now What Should I Do?!?

September 15th, 2008 admin

Just when you think you’re really getting the hang of the whole college thing, you wake up one morning and realize you’ve completely slept through part (or all) of a test. A big one. And it’s a massive percentage of your grade. What should (or can) you do?

Run Like Crazy

What I mean is, if you’re lucky enough to wake up before the class time is over, jump out of bed and run across campus to your classroom, ASAP. (Note: this might mean showing up in Scooby Doo pajama pants-I don’t know what to tell you about that.) If you can get to class while the test is still going, your professor may allow you to take as much as you can finish within the remaining class time.

If you get this opportunity, go for it! Remember, a 50% F is better for your course grade than the 0% F you’d get if you just rolled over and kept sleeping. Any points are better than no points!

Contact Your Professor ASAP-and Beg

If you’ve already missed the entire test, get to your professor ASAP. In person meetings are best, but if he/she has already left campus, use whatever other methods you have (phone, email) to get in touch in a hurry.

Once you’ve got your prof’s attention, explain your situation. (Don’t lie! It has a way of biting you in the tail.) Admit openly that it was entirely your fault, and if you have extenuating circumstances, let your professor in on them. Ask if there is anything at all you can do-if you’re lucky, you’ll get to take the test or do some other project. Unfortunately, you’re at the mercy of your professor.

Damage Control (and More Begging)

Now the typical professor probably won’t feel that someone who slept through his/her test deserves a shot at making up those points, so if you get a “No” thank your professor for his or her time and let it go-for a bit. Then go in for damage control. (This will work best if you’ve actually been attending/taking interest in a class… and even better if you’ve been getting good grades).

Write a brief but to-the-point email to your professor, apologizing for your irresponsibility, and once again thanking him or her for speaking/corresponding with you earlier. Then go ahead and mention your strong points in the class-whether its participation in class discussion, perfect attendance, or a stellar essay you just got back-and explain that you’d hate to have to start from scratch. Ask once more (politely) if there is anything you can possibly do to help save your grade. Don’t be pushy, be humble.

Weigh Your Options

Even if you write the best apology/begging email ever, your professor may still be unmoved by your plight. If this is the case, you need to weigh the merits of your remaining two options:

  1. Stay in the Class
    If you still have the chance of getting a passing grade, it might be worth it to stay in the class.  (You should calculate the points possible and any curves to find out if you have a shot). You’ll probably have to work really hard to get good enough grades to balance out your missing test score, but done right it would mean no “Drop” or “Incomplete” on your transcript-and you wouldn’t have to retake the class.
  2. Drop the Class
    If your professor won’t budge, there’s no extra credit, and even perfect scores on the remaining assignments and exams won’t help you get at least a C, you might want to consider dropping the class. If it’s after the “Drop Deadline” you could receive an “Incomplete” on your transcript-you have to decide if that’s better or worse than a D or F grade. If you’re having trouble, consult your academic advisor.

Whatever the outcome, deal with it as best you can, and then forgive yourself. Everybody has stories of college mistakes-just make sure you learn from yours!

(Oh, and if you’re having trouble staying awake even during class, take a look at these tips about how to stay awake in class and staying awake while studying!)

photo: Alarm Clock 1 by woodsy

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. 9.15.08 Featured blogs of&hellip  |  September 15th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    […] “I slept through a college test-Now what should I do?!?” [Surviving College Life] Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)3.21.08 Featured blogs of the day […]

  • 2. Broke Grad Student  |  September 16th, 2008 at 12:11 am

    I slept through my alarm for a midterm during my first year of college. I woke up and rushed over to the classroom, but it was too late. Fortunately, there was another section of the class that had their midterm later that day, and the professor let me take it then instead. That’s when I learned that every college student should have at least two alarm clocks.

  • 3. RedSprouts  |  September 16th, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Oh man I had the same exact thing happened to me for a general chemistry midterm. I had set my alarm for an exam the night before and accidentally set the real time 1 hour behind. By the time I had realized this the next morning I had 10 minutes left in the class and I raced to talk to the professor. The professor allowed me to take the exam on the spot but with the adrenaline going I didn’t fare so well. I should have opted to drop the class in retrospect.

  • 4. Wonderland  |  May 19th, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I usually turn off my alarm without really waking up, so for normal days, I set my alarm AND my cell phone alarm (for 2-5 minutes later).

    On midterm/final days, I set THREE alarms: the former two plus my ipod alarm. I put them all over the place so I have to get out of bed to shut them off.

    I also tell my suitemates to check in on me if they’re in their rooms.

  • 5. Jamie  |  May 26th, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    @Wonderland: Great idea. I always kept my alarm across the room, too. The snooze button is not my friend on test days.

  • 6. Surviving College Life &r&hellip  |  December 27th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    […] chance in case you hit snooze one too many times (and someone to watch your back so you don’t sleep through a test). Not to mention seeing a buddy is a little extra motivation to get to […]

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