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How do I get a sick note for exams?

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 01.06.2023 | 2 minutes read

A sick note (also known as a fit note) is a document that comes from your doctor as evidence that you are unwell or need to take some time off from university. Your doctor may recommend you take some time off work or studies for a specified period until you recover or have further investigations.

Before 1 July 2022 only GPs could issue a fit note. However after this date other healthcare professionals were able to issue fit notes. The term 'healthcare professionals' relates to members of the five professions who can now certify fit notes in the NHS - these are doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists.

Do I always need a sick note?

If you have an illness for less than 7 days (including the weekend) that has affected your university work, you may be required to fill in a self-certification form, usually found on your university website or via their health centre. If your illness does not affect your university work, it is not necessary to complete any forms. If your illness has affected your university work for more than 7 days, you will need to see your doctor for a fit note.

When should I see my doctor?

If your illness is severe or lasting longer than 7 days or there is any doubt over what is causing your illness you should see your doctor. If you inform your university because it is affecting your ability to complete work or assignments, they may require additional evidence in the form of a fit note from your doctor. A fit or sick note from your doctor is not always required, so it is worth contacting your university department for further advice as soon as possible.

What happens with exams?

If you have an upcoming exam or coursework deadline and you are unwell, it is important that you notify your department as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances they may advise you to still sit the examinations, or provide you with some provisions to allow you to sit the examination or provide an extension for you to submit your coursework. They may also recommend that you defer the current examination and sit the next one instead.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 01.06.2023
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