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Advice for exams: what to do if your teen feels ill

After our disasterous half term with the children’s tummy bug, it’s been back to exams this week and loads of the students are feeling poorly. We have got through boxes and boxes of tissues this week as hayfever and summer colds seems to have gripped Year 11. There have also been other medical emergencies including one student who had to leave in a wheelchair.

So what should you do if your teen is ill? And how will it affect their grades?
Well, obviously you know your child better than anyone else so you know if the illness is genuine or potentially serious. Exams are important but health must come first. There is also the concern that they may be contagious and could make other children ill.
Speak to the exams officer who will be able to advise you. If your child feels well enough to take the exam but may need the toilet urgently or could pass on germs then the school or college could arrange an alternative room. They should also ask for the exams officer to apply for special circumstances as they may not have been as focused as usual.

Your child may become ill during the exam and they should immediately seek help from an invigilator. If they are unable to continue then this will be logged on the seating plan/attendance register and the exams officer will complete an incident form to apply for special circumstances.
The exam board will take the illness into consideration and may ask for the predicted or teacher grades or use the mock exam results. However, most commonly they assign your grade based on the other papers that have been sat for that subject. This will be used in tandem with the national averages to work out what the likely score would have been for the missed paper.
Of course, exams can always be re-sat at a later date so the student can properly show their abilities and achieve the highest grade possible.
I will end by reiterating that health is the most important thing and you must consider the wellbeing of your child and others when deciding if they are well enough to sit their exam or could make others ill.


  1. Good tips. Now with COVID we have to keep kids home where in the past we would have sent them. My daughter was home for a week, covid negative but with a cold and I just had to email the school by day 4 saying ‘I don’t really know what to do – if you want a drs cert, let me know’. I didn’t want to bother with a dr because they’d just say it’s a cold….but none of my kids have had a week off ever so I didn’t know the rules! Ha!

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