Free Exam Attempt Regulation

  Door with a sign: "Exams in Progress! Please Be Quiet" © Martin Braun

Did You Know...?

  1. … the ZPA manually invalidated around 117,000 failed attempts as a result of the free attempt regulation effective from summer semester 2020 to winter semester 2021/22 due to the pandemic?

The General Examination Regulations stipulate that bachelor's students may submit up to a total of three requests for written exams graded "insufficient" (5.0) to be considered not taken. For these requests to be granted, the written exam must be part of a bachelor's degree program and must have been taken in the first 3 university semesters (not course semesters). When a student has applied for a written exam attempt to be canceled, the exam is considered to not have been taken.

Exams that have been taken are exempt from the free attempt regulation if the grade of 5.0 was given due to an attempt to cheat, non-attendance, or a withdrawal without valid reasons, or if an oral supplementary exam has already been applied for following the second exam retake. The regulation also does not apply to master's modules taken early or "Auflagen" (additional requirements).

Failed exam attempts are only canceled upon request. Please send the form together with your Study Progress Certificate (and, if applicable, confirmation from your examiner that you have neither applied for nor taken an oral supplementary exam) to your contact at the ZPA by email. You will find your contact person and their contact details on the page Contact Persons at the ZPA. The cancellation of a failed exam attempt is final and cannot be revoked at a later date.

You must submit your application to cancel a failed exam attempt no later than the semester following the one in which you took the exam. The following deadlines apply:

  • For winter semester written exams: May 15.
  • For summer semester written exams: November 15.


  • Example 1: You fail a written exam in the 2022 summer semester. We must receive your application no later than November 15, 2022.
  • Example 2: You fail a written exam in the 2022/23 winter semester. We must receive your application no later than May 15, 2023.

Of course, you may also submit your application earlier. Please note, however, that we can only process your application once the grade has been entered and validated in RWTHonline. Therefore, please do not submit your application until this has been done by your examiner.



Can I use all three of my permitted attempts for the same written exam?


Can I use all three of my attempts in one semester?


Does the rule only apply to written exams scheduled for the first three course semesters according to the curriculum?

No, the free attempt regulation applies to all written exams that you have taken during your first three university (not course) semesters.

When I registered for my exam, I had to choose a particular concentration, specialization, module, or similar. Does my choice still apply if I have a failed exam attempt canceled?

The exam is considered not taken, which means it is treated as if you had never registered for it. If you do not want to continue the associated module or area now, your choice can be removed. However, only we at the ZPA can do this. Please get in touch with your responsible ZPA contact.

What is the difference between university semesters and subject semesters?

When counting university semesters, all semesters are taken into account that you were enrolled at a German university. Subject semesters, on the other hand, only include the semesters that you were or are enrolled in a specific degree program.

Example: You initially studied Business Administration for three semesters at the University of Cologne. You dropped out of this program and have now been studying Mechanical Engineering here at RWTH Aachen University for four semesters. You are therefore in the 4th semester of your Mechanical Engineering studies, but in the 7th university semester.

What free exam attempt regulation applied during the pandemic?

In the 2020 summer semester, 2020/21 winter semester, and 2021 summer semester, all failed exams were considered not taken. These exams were automatically canceled by us in the ZPA as we manually marked them as invalid. Failed attempts due to non-attendance or cheating did not fall under this regulation.

In the 2021/22 winter semester, the regulation described above continued to apply without restriction to students in bachelor's degree programs. For students in master's degree programs, however, the free attempt regulation only applied to the third attempt at an exam.

Was I also meant to submit a request during the pandemic? Or do I now have to submit a retrospective request?

No, for the 2020 summer semester, the 2020/21 winter semester, the 2021 summer semester, and the 2021/22 winter semester, no request was necessary. We at ZPA will automatically cancel these exams by manually marking them as invalid. You do not have to submit a request retrospectively!

How can I see my free attempts from the pandemic in RWTHonline?

Under "Achievements" you can see the invalidated failed attempts by filtering and selecting the option "not valid". On your transcript of grades (everything), any free attempts are indicated by an exclamation point after the exam title.

How do I get my academic progress certificate?

You can retrieve the academic progress certificate on your own in RWTHonline. To do so, open the application "Certificates (documents)" and click on "Print" in the line "Academic progress certificate". You will find detailed instructions about this on this website.