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Non-binding Exams

Example of an academic transcript

Beginning your university studies is connected with a number of new challenges. The University of Potsdam acknowledges the difficulties that come with having to orient oneself in an unfamiliar environment. This acknowledgment is reflected in the general Course and Examination Rules and Regulations: Since 2009 these rules include a provision on non-binding exams in your first semester of study in non-teaching oriented and teaching oriented Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs of study (BAMA-O and BAMALA-O).

There you will find the following statement: “(1) Examinations that are taken in the first regular semester of study and that are failed at their first attempt, are disregarded.” (See for example BAMA-O 2013, § 13.)

What does this mean for me?

If you take an exam in your first regular semester of study, and you do not pass this exam at the first try, we will treat this exam as if you had never taken it. This means that all available examination attempts for this exam are open to you again.

What do I need to do?

You don’t need to do anything to make use of this non-binding exam option, i.e. you do not need submit an application or an explanation. However, you should check your transcripts to see whether the non-binding exam was registered as such. Should your records not reflect the non-binding exam by the deadline provided in the next section, you should contact your the Examination Office.

How is this option implemented?

The exam management system registers the non-binding exam automatically, but only 10 weeks after the submission of your grade. This stipulated period is necessary for a possible review of the relevant assessment materials that is called for in the rules and regulations. Therefore you will not see the registration of the non-binding exam until 10 weeks after the submission of your grade. To see this record, please log on to PULS and see “My Student Record” (meine Leistungen) or view your transcript. Should you have retaken the exam in the meantime, the number of attempts will be adjusted automatically.

Example of an academic transcript

Non-binding exams in case of failed exams and for grade improvement

In addition to the non-binding exams for students in their first semester of study, § 13.3 BAMA-O or BAMALA-O grants departments the right to regulate other non-binding exam options in their program-specific rules and regulations. Thus, the program-specific rules and regulations applicable to your field of study will state whether or not your department or program permits additional non-binding exams. Thus, BAMA-O or BAMALA-O are not the sole legal foundations for non-binding exams.

What does that mean for me?

Here too, “non-binding exam” means that you are granted an additional attempt in a module exam or module component exam. However, the exam must have been taken during the standard period of study. The specific rules on non-binding exams must be stated in the program-specific rules and regulations.

Please note: If no specifications are made about non-binding exams, then non-binding exams are not allowed!

  • If the program-specific rules and regulations include specifications on non-binding exams, the number of times you can retake an exam is also limited. The specific number of permitted attempts can be found in the effective program-specific rules and regulations.
  • Unless the program-specific rules and regulations state otherwise, you can use the non-binding exam option to either improve your grade or to receive an additional opportunity to retake a failed exam.

Using a non-binding exam to improve your grade:

  • You have taken and passed an exam, but you are not satisfied with your grade and would like to retake the exam in order to improve your grade.
  • You receive an additional examination attempt for the applicable module.
  • After the retaken exam is graded, the better grade becomes the valid grade.

Using the non-binding exam option for failed exams:

  • You have failed an exam. This failed exam is disregarded.
  • You receive an additional examination attempt for the applicable module.
  • As long as you have taken the exam within the standard period of study and if there are no limiting regulations in the program-specific rules and regulations, you can either apply the non-binding exam option after the first failure of the exam or after failing your regular second examination attempt.

Only one non-binding exam can be applied per module, i.e. you may only make use of one grade improvement or an additional examination attempt per module. Thus, if you have used your non-binding exam option for a failed exam in a module, you may not use another non-binding exam option to improve your grade. However, the regular number of repeat examination attempts is still available to you.

The program-specific rules and regulations may also limit the non-binding exam option to certain modules. If there are no limiting regulations, then you may chose freely for which module you would like to use the non-binding exam option.

Please note that the non-binding attempts apply to all exams (except for the final thesis), even for module component exams. Should the exam consist of module component exams, the non-binding exam option counts only towards the applicable component exam, but it still uses up one free examination attempt.

You may only apply the non-binding exam option if you are within the standard period of study.

How and where do I register a non-binding exam option?

Non-binding exam options for failed exams and for grade improvement are managed by the Examination Office. To register your non-binding exam option, please use only the form "non-binding exams" (PDF).

Please submit the completed form to the  Examination Office (during office hours, by mail, or by placing it into the office mailbox) no later than 10 working days from the announcement of your examination results.

Please note the cutoff period for the registration. The date on which the exam grade is announced is the date on which it appears in the campus management system (PULS).

How to I register for my exam after registering the non-binding exam option?

To register for a repeat examination after taking the non-binding exam option, you must use PULS, if your program is administered through the PULS system. If your program of study provides registration lists, you must again register through the list.

In short, registration follows the regular registration procedure.

Do I have to do anything once the results of my retaken exam are announced?

If you have requested the non-binding exam option to improve your grade, and if you have achieved a higher grade in the retaken exam, the higher grade is applied automatically.

Should your grade in the retaken exam be lower, we kindly ask for your cooperation. In this case, please contact the Examination Office.

Your academic transcript will reflect your usage of the non-binding exam option.

* A variation of the non-binding exam option also exists if your studies follow rules and regulations that are based on an enrollment points system (Belegpunktesystem). In your first semester of regular study, no enrollment points are deducted, but you can still earn credits.