Preparing for End-of-Year Exams and Resits at University

happy students passed exams
May 2024 by


The time has finally come for the dreaded end-of-year exam season to take place. But first of all, we want to issue a congratulations on making it this far. University isn’t easy and you’ve done a really good job to make it here!

However, while university might seem like a big party 90% of the time, at the end of the day you are here to come out with a degree. And that degree can only be achieved if you’re tested first. 

It’s pretty normal to feel nervous about end-of-year exams, however, you’ve already likely done a test run when you sat your January exams at the beginning of the year. That being said, we also understand this upcoming exam period might feel like your last chance to get the grade you really want from studying at university – be it your first or final year.

This is why we’ve collated together some information on what we think students need to know about their end-of-year exams, including how to prepare for this period – and what you can do if you don’t get the grades you were hoping for. So, here’s to one final push!

When are end-of-year exams at university?

For the majority of UK universities, there are two exam periods per academic year. Students will usually sit exams after the Christmas Break in January, and again after the Easter Holidays in May. This latter period is known as when students will typically sit their end-of-year exams.

When do you get your summer exam results?

Given almost all university courses make their students sit exams around this time of the year, the summer exam period is pretty long. It’s not unusual to sit some exams in the middle of May – and the rest in the final week of June. Because of this, it might seem like you’re waiting a while to get your results. 

Students can expect to get the results for end-of-year exams – as well as their final grade for the academic year – by the end of June or at the start of July. This also gives students time to prepare for any resits they might need to do in August. You can find the exact dates you will get these exam results by visiting your individual university website.

How to prepare for end-of-year exams

Like any other university exam season, there are a few foolproof ways to properly prepare for end-of-year exams:

  • Work out which revision style suits you

    At this point of the year, you should have a rough idea of how you work (and revise) best. Maybe you prefer studying in a quiet room alone, or perhaps you get way more done with music playing quietly in the background. Some students even find they retain information best when working with friends or coursemates.

  • Create a revision schedule

    Getting a head start on revising for end-of-year exams means you’re not cramming everything in. A revision schedule is a really good way to see how much you have left to do – and the time you’ve got to do it in. Having a visual representation of your workload can help you break it down into manageable chunks, and ensure you’re not burning yourself out right before the exam season begins.

  • Do past papers

    It’s all well and good learning everything for an exam, however, if you don’t know how to apply this knowledge, you won’t come out with the grade you deserve. Past papers are a really easy way to familiarise yourself with what the exam board will likely ask – and will also help you work under time pressure and know just how long it takes you to complete a question well. You can find past papers online or ask your professor to print some for you.

  • Take short breaks regularly

    Try to keep in mind that it’s also the quality of the revision you’re doing, not just the quantity. As such, studying for hours on end will only hinder you as you’ll stop retaining information and exhaust yourself quicker. It’s much better to revise little and often, taking regularly short breaks to reset.

  • Ask for support

    Your professors don’t expect you to know everything. In fact, if you’re not reaching out for help and asking them to explain something you don’t understand, they’d be worried. If you come across anything you don’t understand during your revision, don’t be afraid to ask your professor or friend to explain it to you. Just memorising it won’t get you very far!

    As well as reaching out for exam support, it’s also important to remember that you can seek support for your health and well-being, too. This period is particularly stressful, and there are plenty of resources and groups on hand to support students through summer exams. You can find a shoulder to lean on through coursemates, professors and even university counselling and support groups. 

Can you retake exams at university?

Despite revising and studying hard, some students find that they perhaps haven’t performed the way they wanted when their exam results come in. If you fail an exam at university, you are permitted to retake the assessment to see if you can pass it with another go. These retakes are more commonly known as resits, and typically take place in August after the summer exam season has come to an end.

What is a resit exam?

A resit exam is an opportunity for students to take an assessment again. Resits are usually only offered to students who have failed an assessment which is why universities encourage you to revise as hard as you can to get the best grade you can on the first round; for example, if you got 51/100 on an assessment but were aiming for 60/100 or higher, you likely wouldn’t be offered a resit as your original grade is still a pass.

Another reason students might want to resit an assessment is if they had mitigating circumstances when they first took the test. For example, if personal issues have affected your exam performance, your university might allow you to resit the assessment. Resit exams based on mitigating circumstances are typically decided by your school of study on a case-by-case basis.

Do you have to pay to resit exams at university?

Unlike your initial assessments during the end-of-year exam period, students need to pay to take an exam one more time. The cost of a resit varies depending on your university, but for context, the University of Leeds charges £2 per credit and an additional admin fee of £50 per resit. If you miss the deadline to apply for a resit, you’ll likely have to pay a late penalty, as well.

How do I organise a resit exam?

Students who fail an exam will usually be contacted by their school which will offer them the chance to resit. If you fail an assessment and your school doesn’t reach out, it’s important to contact them as soon as you can to let them know you would like another chance to sit the exam.

How many resits are allowed at university UK?

If you haven’t been successful in passing your assessment through a resit, the majority of universities will allow you to have another go. However, this greatly depends on where you go and some institutions only give their students one shot at doing an assessment again.

Are resits capped at 40%?

Since the main purpose of resitting an exam is for students to pass their modules and complete their academic year, resit assessments are capped at the pass mark of 40%. This is why universities encourage their students to work as hard as they can for the summer exam period and get a mark that doesn’t just pass them, but reflects just how hard they’ve worked over the last year.

What happens if you fail your resits at university?

If you fail a resit exam and your university doesn’t let you take the assessment one more time, you’ll need to speak to your school of study as soon as you can to see what can be done in terms of progressing your degree. 

While some modules are compulsory and need a pass mark for students to progress, a failed resit for an elective module might not be as serious so long as you have a certain number of credits overall. It’s important to bear in mind that this still could affect your final degree classification.

How to get ready for exam resits at university 

It’s easy to feel disheartened when preparing for exam resits. Perhaps you feel disappointed with the first grade you received, or you’re frustrated that you’re having to go through the exam process again. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s important to stay calm and create a solid strategy going forward so you can ace your exam this time around!

  • Adapting your Approach

    If one of the reasons you didn’t pass your exam the first time was a bad approach to revision, a resit is the perfect opportunity to adapt your approach and find out what works best for you. It might be that you find it difficult to retain information by solely reading and you might learn more by rewriting your notes out instead. If you relied on this technique last time, you could be an audio learner and might benefit from hearing the information out loud and repeating it to your coursemates.

    Switching up your approach to revision won’t just help you find the best way you learn, but it’ll also help keep you motivated during resit revision; the majority of retakes take place in August, so students often find it difficult to revise when their friends are enjoying their summer break. Most importantly, remember that resit marks are capped at a pass level, so your focus now should be on passing the exam, not achieving a particular grade. For many students retaking exams, this new perspective helps them push through the revision period.

  • Managing your Time

    As we’ve mentioned already, the revision period for retakes will typically be over the summer. This makes managing your time even more important than ever. If you do need to resit an exam, it’s essential to prioritise enjoying your break alongside going over exam materials in the lead-up to your resits. 

    After you’ve received details of your new exam, you can draw up a realistic revision timetable; the easiest way to do this is to work backwards from the date of your exam and identify revision periods – taking care to leave space for any summer plans you’ve already got in your diary! If you’re struggling to manage your time, consider using the Pomodoro technique. By breaking your work into 25-minute bursts of focused revision, you can maximise concentration levels while also preventing burnout with regularly scheduled breaks.

  • Look at What Went Wrong

    It might also be beneficial to chat with your professor and reflect on what went wrong the first time you took the exam. Identifying your pain points will help you direct your efforts in the right place when it comes to studying for your resits. If you lost marks because you ran out of time, for example, consider using past papers to practice completing the exam in a timed session. This technique is great for helping students to organise their thoughts quickly as soon as they open the question paper.

  • Seeking out Support 

    Even if the semester has finished, universities still offer student support outside term time for students doing retakes. On top of chatting with your professor about what perhaps went wrong when you first took the exam, they might be able to offer you other well-being resources both online and in person. This might include mental health support from the university, counselling groups or student therapy. Exam resits can be a particularly stressful time for many students, and universities are on hand to help with this anxiety in any way they can. 

All that’s left to say is, good luck!

We want to wish students the best of luck with their end-of-year exams and any retakes. You’re so close to the end and all that’s left is one final push… you got this!



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