Before we get down to business, we need to clarify a few basics so that you can correctly assess your situation. Let’s start very simply: Your studies consist of various subjects that are grouped into so-called modules. Each module is linked to an exam that you have to pass – otherwise, you will not be admitted to the final exam and will not be able to successfully complete your degree.

Third Attempt

You have a certain number of attempts for each (partial) test. If you don’t pass an exam directly, you can repeat it. A (module) exam is only finally failed if you fail the last repetition. The number of possible exam attempts is specified in your exam regulations and is usually two or three per exam. Yes, this is not a usual assignment where you can try and try again with the help of a paper writing service.

It is important that you pay attention to the exact name and do not let yourself be confused: The first retry attempt is the second attempt at the exam; a second retry attempt is the total of the third exam attempt, and so on. At this point, many students get confused and confuse the exam attempt with a repeat attempt. Therefore, you should know the regulations of your examination regulations and be aware of your situation.

What Happens if You Totally Fail an Exam?

If you fail an examination in a module, you definitely fail the final examination (e.g. the bachelor’s or master’s examination) of the course. Your studies will be terminated prematurely and you will be expelled. But: Depending on the university and degree program, this may only apply to compulsory modules.

The final failure of an elective module or a partial examination within an elective area would therefore not lead to you getting expelled. Your studies will only be terminated if you fail all the modules within the options in the last examination attempt – unless your examination regulations stipulate otherwise. The same applies to supplementary modules or voluntarily taken secondary subjects that are not necessarily included in your study plan.

So not all tests are of equal relevance. If you do not pass a mandatory third attempt, you lose the right to take the examination for your degree program and are no longer allowed to continue studying it. Your Examination Office will then send you a corresponding notification and initiate de-registration.

Third Attempt Failed? You Can Do That Now!

The official regulations of your university are clear: failed third attempt = getting expelled. But they are not as binding as the legal texts sound. If you fail your last attempt at the exam, your academic career does not have to be over. There are a few options you should be aware of. Here is a brief overview.

You have these options:

  • Read exam regulations
  • substitute exam
  • legally challenge the exam

Read Exam Regulations

The first step after a failed third attempt is to read your exam regulations. Even if you already know your study regulations, you must read them carefully at this point. The reason: All the rules of your degree program are defined in the examination regulations – and they are binding. And this also includes the exact examination regulations and their framework conditions.

You can only assess your situation correctly and assess options for action if you have understood the examination procedures in detail, just like professionals at any professional writing service thoroughly analyze the assignment’s terms. Your examination regulations form the basis for your legal examination claims. In addition to the exact number of exam attempts, you should also study the exam descriptions, deadlines for objections, and responsible contact points within your university.

Substitute Exam

At the beginning of the article, I explained to you that elective modules and additional subjects can be exempted from the third attempt rule. At some universities, this special case is also possible for compulsory modules – but only in the form of a trick under examination law. It feels like it works in one in 10,000 cases and it works like this: If you have finally failed a compulsory test, you submit an application to your examination board and ask for a substitution option for the corresponding module.

So, you are applying for a change in the structure provided for in the examination regulations and are thus converting a compulsory module into an elective module à la “I am applying to be allowed to take Module B instead of Module A because…” Should a failed third attempt for elective modules in your course be irrelevant, you can continue your studies and be tested in the “new” Module B. This procedure is bureaucratic, lengthy, and uncertain. When I read about it, I didn’t believe it because I’m well versed in exam regulations, university law, and all that stuff. I had never seen anything comparable before. But maybe this exotic tip will help you.

Legally Contest the Examination

If your objection is unsuccessful, you can appeal against the decision of your examination board and appeal against the rejection notice. Your university will inform you of all relevant deadlines and the responsible institutions via a so-called legal remedy instruction. As a rule, the local administrative court is responsible for the legal proceedings.

In general, you can always contest your exam if it ran under incorrect conditions, there were errors in the correction or the examiner’s evaluation is unfair. However, the chances of success can only be assessed in individual cases, and it is advisable to hire a lawyer as legal counsel. He can objectively assess your situation right from the start, knows possible weaknesses in the examination process, and can optimally represent your rights. This investment might be worth it for you.


A failed third attempt is a severe setback. The situation is a mental burden and poses great difficulties for many students. It’s no small thing, after which you can give yourself a quick shake and then carry on as normal. But the situation is not as definitive as it seems at first glance.

Depending on the situation and the university, you have a number of options for repeating or replacing your exam. If this is not possible, you can always change the degree program or the university and start another course in this way. You are not alone; you can access free help from your university or organize legal assistance.

It is important that you remain calm after an unsuccessful third attempt and analyze your situation soberly. Get an overview of your options and weigh up your options for action wisely. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for this because higher education laws vary widely across the country and the individual courses are too different.

If you didn’t pass your third attempt, you have an individual problem – but not an unsolvable one. Just like if you’ve failed an assignment, you definitely have workarounds for that –


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