At my university, if you failed an exam at the end of the semester, there was always a second exam a few weeks later where you could try passing the course again. You would fail only if you failed both of these exams.

I proctored the exam, and I will also proctor the _____

This idea does not seem to be universally known. Is there a formal word for such second-chance or re-sitting exams?


5 Answers 5


When I went to school, we used the term makeup exam:

Oxford dictionary (American English):

    North American  A supplementary test or assignment given to a student who missed or failed the original one:       ‘ Tony has a makeup exam’

Merriam-Webster's Learner’s Dictionary:

    US : a special test for a student who has missed or failed a previous test
    • He’ll have to pass the makeup to graduate.
    — often used before another noun
    • a makeup exam/test/quiz
    — see also make up at make ↙

from make at Merriam-Webster's Learner’s Dictionary:

    make up [phrasal verb]
    • make up for (something) : to do or have something as a way of correcting or improving (something else)
      • He wanted to make up for [=atone for] neglecting his children by spending more time with them.
      • She tried to make up for lost time by working extra hard.
      • What the movie lacks in plot it makes up for in special effects.

i.e., a makeup exam is offered to make up for the fact that a student missed the original exam (a way of correcting) or failed it (improving).

Note that both definitions indicate “North American” or “US”.

See also Is it makeup or make-up or make up?

  • 1
    It should be noted that, even within the U.S., this term will not clearly convey the exact meaning that the OP has in mind, 'second-chance exam for those who failed the first exam', as it is often (perhaps more often) used for the other purpose indicated by the dictionaries: the substitute exam given to the students who were unable (e.g. because of an illness) to take the exam at the time scheduled for others.
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 21:43

In my experience in the U.S., we call these re-takes or repeat exams. You could also call it a do-over.

From Merriam-Webster:

re-take: to take or receive again

repeat: to make, do, or perform again

do-over: to do (something) again

Repeat exam probably works best with your example:

I proctored the exam, and I will also proctor the repeat exam.


Supplementary examsJCU Australia

A supplementary exam is an additional exam (or other form of assessment) that may be approved for a student in the following circumstances:

  • A student who has come close to passing a subject and meets the relevant College guidelines for awarding a supplementary exam.
  • A student who has applied for special consideration due to unexpected circumstances impacting on their performance during the first exam.

This is a second chance to pass the subject and students must pass the supplementary exam to gain a pass overall. The best possible result from a supplementary exam is SP (supplementary pass) or SS (supplementary pass in an ungraded subject).

Supplementary exams are scheduled after the formal exam period, and may not be available for all subjects, or for all examination types.


In my ancient Scottish University (and its older and younger peers) such exams are taken after the summer vacation (no vacation for the students involved) and are called:


My Chambers Dictionary app only gives resit as a verb:

To sit (an examination) again after failing

Resit Examination is the formal term used by the Universities.

I doubt that the practice of resits is at all ancient, although I have no data on the matter. In general it was a pain in the nether regions for all concerned.

  • Indeed, FumbleFingers has already suggested it. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 18:29
  • @EdwinAshworth — I’m afraid I only checked the answers, as the question didn’t seem to require clarification or suggestion for improvement. You probably know my attitude to answers in comments.
    – David
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 18:33
  • @EdwinAshworth — and as is the nature of comments, it seems to have been transitory.
    – David
    Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 21:14

As can perhaps be discerned from the other answers offered, this is a matter of technical terminology that differs from country to country, and may differ even from one institution to another within the same country. Each of the terms offered on this page is the right one to use within a particular setting, but likely to be confusing or misleading outside it. There is no term with this meaning that will be readily understood across the English-speaking world.

(I am posting this as a wiki-answer, because it is a essentially a clarification of what is implied by the other answers. I am, however, posting it as an answer, rather than a comment, because it is important that the future visitors to this page consider it on a par with other answers, if they are not to be misled by them.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.