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Exams Extenuating Circumstances Policy

Our policy and procedures on extenuating circumstances for examinations

What if I am unable to attend the exam?

If you have paid for an exam and been issued an entry ticket but absent from an exam without any permission, you will be recorded as ‘absence’ in our exam database and cannot be refunded the exam fee.

However, you will not be recorded as ‘absence’ and can be refunded if your absence reason meets the Examination Extenuating Circumstances (EC), you submit an EC application to RCOG exam department on time, AND your EC application has been approved.


What are Extenuating circumstances (EC)?

Extenuating circumstances (EC) are circumstances that are unavoidable, unexpected and beyond your control. It may have a direct, substantial and negative impact on your ability to undertake or complete the examination.

Normally, the effect of the circumstances will impact the candidate within 3 weeks prior to the examination event, but it may also include an impact on the candidate’s performance during the examination. Extenuating circumstances are usually health-related or serious personal or family situations that are affecting you personally, such as a serious illness or the death of a close relative.


What may be accepted as EC?

The basic principle of EC is ‘beyond the control of candidates’. Reasons such as minor illness, family event, travel plan, employment responsibility, or transportation difficulty will not normally be accepted.

Some examples that may be accepted:

  • Acute illness or injury on the day of or during the examination
  • The death or serious illness of a close family member or dependant
  • Suddenly worsening of a long term health condition
  • Extended illness or injury that lasts for more than five days that is serious enough to stop you from studying, writing, or revising
  • Serious personal injury
  • Being the victim of a serious crime
  • Unforeseen and unavoidable imposed work pressure
  • Unavoidable and/or unforeseen transport difficulties (e.g. through natural disaster)
  • Incorrect information provided by RCOG about date/time/location of exams
  • Significant change in circumstances
  • Court attendance
  • Jury service where deferral has been refused by the court
  • Unforeseen representation of County or Country at prestigious/significant event


Examples that are unlikely to be accepted:

  • Any reasons submitted without supporting evidence
  • Mistaking the date/time/location of the examination
  • Routine employment commitments
  • Transport difficulties, foreseeable or planned travel disruption
  • Oversleeping or alarm failure on the morning of the examination
  • Long term adverse circumstances
  • Minor ailment, e.g. coughs and colds, short lived viruses
  • ‘Retrospective’ medical evidence
  • Expected due date (candidates who are pregnant can seek special arrangements by submitting an application to Examination staff)
  • Examination stress
  • Childcare difficulties
  • Holidays
  • Religious holidays (there are separate arrangements for religious, please check with Examination Department for  further details)
  • Family events


How to submit an EC application

  1. Please carefully read through the full Exams Extenuating Circumstances Policy (PDF) and make sure you follow each instruction. Please think carefully about whether your circumstances are likely to be accepted as ‘extenuating’. If you are not sure about any detail, please submit a query to RCOG exam staff.
  2. Your submission must include:
    i) a complete Extenuating Circumstances Application Form (Word document), and
    ii) appropriate documentary evidence, such as medical certificates, death certificates, or police reports.
    Make sure that you have completed every section of the application form and enclosed required supporting evidence. Keep all of your supporting documents clear as required. Make sure all your supporting evidence is directly relevant to your case and is objective, independent, third party evidence. Please note any additional statement does not increase your chances of your case being accepted and may make it difficult for the reviewers to identify your case.
  3. Submit your application, no later than 5 working days after the examination takes place, to with the email subject "RCOG EC and Refund Application [your College number]".


What can be considered as evidence

Evidence should be relevant and significant. Evidence will often come from an expert or person in authority and will be provided in the form of an official document (e.g. a police report or doctor’s note). Evidence normally takes the form of written confirmation from an objective, independent, third party. Evidence should relate to facts, not personal opinions. For example, a note from a friend or relative would not be significant.

A piece of evidence should include some, if not all, of the following:

  • Date that the document was written
  • Signature or evidence that it comes from the person making the statement (e.g. from an official email address)
  • Evidence that it is independent and verifiable (e.g. the name and contact details of their company or organisation)
  • Evidence that the person has the experience or expertise to make the statement (e.g. their job title or qualifications)

Some examples of supporting evidence:


Evidence may be required


  • Confirmation of the illness and the dates concerned, such as an original medical certificate signed by a medical practitioner

Illness of another person

  • A statement of the relationship between the person and the candidate; and
  • Confirmation of the illness, and the dates concerned, such as an original medical certificate signed by a medical practitioner


  • A statement of the relationship between the person and the candidate; and
  • Death certificate or funeral statement

Victim of Crime

  • Police report including a crime reference number

Fire accident

  • A letter or report from a fire officer

Court Attendance

  • Solicitor’s letter including the dates of the legal proceedings and the requirement for you to attend

Jury Service

  • A letter from the court or tribunal including the dates of the legal proceedings, and confirming that the candidate could not be excused from jury service

Unforeseen representation of your county or country at a significant/ prestigious event

  • A letter of confirmation from the relevant organising body; and
  • A supporting statement from an professional explaining why the event should be considered as significant/prestigious

Major transport difficulty

  • Corroboration from police or other public authority; and/or
  • Insurance reference number (if you were involved in a road
  • traffic incident)


Timing of your EC application

If your EC application has been approved before the examination

You should not attempt the examination and you will not be counted as ‘an attempt’ for this exam.

If you have submitted an EC application but have not received an approval before the examination

You can either attend the examination or not.

If attend, you therefore automatically declare yourself ‘fit to sit’, and the mark awarded is deemed an accurate reflection of your performances. Your submitted EC claim cannot be considered and shall be automatically dismissed.

If you are absent from the examination, your EC application will be considered by RCOG EC Panel. (It however does not mean the application will be definitely approved. The EC results still depends on if the application can meet EC criteria)

If you fall ill (or in other extenuating circumstances) during the time near to the examination (e.g. the evening before the exam) but do not have enough time to prepare and submit EC application before the examination

You can be absent from the exam and submit the application with 5 working days after the examination takes place.

If you fall serious ill during the course of an examination


(Such claims shall only be accepted if you were fit to sit on entering the examination venue, but for unforeseen reasons, for example, became seriously ill, during the examination.

The Invigilator shall record the event in the Invigilator’s Report, and the report will be sent to the RCOG Extenuating Circumstances Panel.)

You should submit EC claims with documentary medical evidence, in the same manner as any other claim.

If you leave the exam venue in these circumstances, any answer sheet work completed up to the point of departure shall become null and void, irrespective of whether the EC claim is subsequently upheld.

If your EC application has been approved, you will be treated as if never attended the examination.


What happens after your EC submission

RCOG Examination Department will issue receipts to you be replying your email within two working days. The purpose of receipts is to show that RCOG Examination Department has received your submission BUT not for a guarantee of extenuating circumstances approval.

RCOG EC panel shall process an EC application as soon as a full submission has been received. The process normally takes no more than 20 working days. You can expect the EC result within 20 working days after you have got the receipt email from RCOG Examinations. You will be informed by RCOG Examination Department emails if your EC case process needs more than 20 working days.

EC Panel may recommend or agree the following EC outcomes:

Your EC application has been:



  • Exam staff shall inform you that your application has been rejected and you cannot be refunded.
  • You will be counted as ‘an attempt’ for the examination. (For example, if it is the first time you take the examination, you will be considered as ‘retake’ for the next examination). 
  • You are coded as ‘absent’ and the exam mark is 0 in our record/system.


  • Exam staff should pass your case to refunding process
  • Exam staff should inform you that your application has been approved and you can be refunded.
  • You will not be counted as ‘an attempt’ for DRCOG examinations.
  • You are coded as ‘EC’ (extenuating circumstances) in our record/system.


Please note, you will be very likely to have your EC result after the scheduled exam date if you submit your EC application before the exam date. Please consider carefully if your absence reason can fully meet the EC criteria before you submit them. If you thought you could be approved while actually your situation cannot meet the criteria, your absence can be marked as ‘absence’ in our record (and ‘one attempt’ for DRCOG exams) even if you have submit your EC application to us before the exam.

Please note:

  1. The information above is a summary. Please read the detailed policy document carefully, and please always check the latest version of the policy.
  2. The final EC result is subject to EC Panel’s decision.