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How do I get a sick note for exams?

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

A sick note (also known as a fit note) is a document 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.

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 center. If your illness does not affect your university work, completing any forms is unnecessary. If your illness has affected your university work for more than 7 days, you will need to see your doctor for a fit note.

This is one example. Requirements will vary by university.

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. Suppose you inform your university because it affects your ability to complete work or assignments. In that case, 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 are unwell, you must notify your department as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, they may advise you to still sit for the examination, 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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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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