Curriculum and assessment design


Resit exams allow students who have failed a subject a second chance to demonstrate achievement of the academic standards required for program progression. Contrary to previous studies in this field, this paper reports on the value of resit exams with a comprehensive discussion of the lessons learned from the implementation of resits in different conditions and is intended to assist educators to decide whether such exams are a useful and fair way to promote student progression. The data were obtained from student academic performance metrics, a survey with a total of 444 students, six student focus group interviews with a total of 29 students, and three individual staff interviews. The study suggests the benefits of resit exams as a tool to improve student learning outcomes and progression, especially with the close relationship between resit exams and threshold and high-stakes assessment requirements. While the psychological and progression benefits of resit exams were acknowledged by the participants, concerns were expressed about some aspects of the way the school offered the resits and the issue of inequality. Alternatives were proposed to avoid unnecessary failure and promote learning.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Resit exams allow students who have failed a subject a second chance to pass – an especially useful facility where a subject employs a high-stake exam linked to threshold requirements.
  2. A resit policy reduces student stress about failing the main exam and does not impact upon student investment of study time and effort.
  3. The administrative aspects of providing resits require thoughtful consideration to ensure fairness, to maintain institutional reputation, and to minimise staff workload.