Repeated Courses and Why We Care

Admission to our Engineering programs requires the completion of certain Grade 12 courses (or equivalents in various other school systems), specifically Functions, Calculus, English, Chemistry and Physics in Ontario.  For many years we have discouraged the idea of re-taking any of these required courses to boost marks and get a competitive edge for admission.  In recent years, this has taken the form of a penalty of around 5% points off the overall average of the required courses if one or more are repeated (the higher grade is used).  The net effect is that unless the repeated course(s) add at least another 30 percentage points to the total, repeating a course is not worthwhile for competitive advantage in admissions.  In many cases, repeating course(s) will knock the application out of the competition completely.  Other universities seem to have a range of approaches, from accepting repeats without question to ignoring the improved grade completely.  So, we’re somewhere in between.  But why use this penalty approach?

It’s not that we are mean and like to punish people for some perceived flaws.  Instead, we try hard to make admission decisions using an evidence-based quantitative approach (after all, we are engineers!).  As part of this approach, each year we analyze the performance of students that were admitted in the previous few years.  One analysis compares students with repeated required courses versus those who did not repeat any.  Consistently over the years, this analysis has indicated that those students who repeated a course have a lower final average in our first year engineering program.  It is usually lower by somewhere between 5 and 8 percentage points.  We run statistical tests to ensure that the differences between the two groups are “real” and not some random fluctuations, and invariably these are real differences.  We also see a higher failure rate in the group with repeat courses.

Of course, this analysis tells us nothing about the reasons their university averages are lower, and one could speculate on a variety of factors.  The fact remains however, that if we admit someone on the basis of an average that includes repeated courses, they are likely to do less well than the others.  Therefore, the penalty factor takes this into account during the competitive selection process.  Essentially, we are trying to forecast what the applicant’s grade in engineering will be, and to only admit people that we think will be successful.  Clearly, students with repeated courses can be successful so we don’t want to exclude them from admission completely.

Of course each applicant’s situation is somewhat unique, so there is a place in the application process to explain why courses are being repeated.  We look at each case and decide whether to apply the factor, or to use some other modified approach.  As I noted at the start, we try to find some reasonable path between blindly accepting repeats and disallowing them completely, since that’s where our analysis seems to lead.

This can be a complex and confusing topic, so comments and questions are welcomed!

146 thoughts on “Repeated Courses and Why We Care

  1. I have a comment about the “Engineering Admissions by Lottery?” post, and since there is no q/comment box on that page I will put it here.

    I have a fun suggestion that actually might make a lot of sense. Do a mixture, say merit-based (with all the inherent uncertainties) at 80%, then take the remaining applicants (above a cutoff of course) and do a random admission for the 20%.

  2. In terms of this blog post, there’s no easy answer. It really truly depends on the person and I’m not sure how you would determine if they were up to the task or not through any test or result. I can tell you that from high school up until the middle of 2nd year university, my results fluctuated wildly and I was just inconsistent but after that 1st term of 2nd year I just decided I was sick of being sometimes at the top and sometimes laying an egg so mentally I just upped my level and I never got a grade below 80 after that for the rest of my university career. So it’s possible, but is it likely? Who knows. Probably not.

    Not sure prospective students are aware of the risk they run by repeating courses though. Maybe it should be a one shot deal across the board so that everyone knows that they have one chance to make it count. Students might be fuzzy on the details…I for one had no idea that there was a penalty.

    • Very true, there are always exceptions. Some who do much better than expected, and some who do surprisingly poorly. Impossible to accurately predict on an individual basis, so all we can do is to use the “average”. We (and many others across North America) have tried many ways of predicting university preformance, but the tools we have are still somewhat lacking.

  3. I repeated one course grade 12 chemistry, and retook it in summer school got a 96. My original mark was 67. I had a horrible teacher and their were a variety of other factors that influenced it as well. However I can guarantee my other top 5 marks will be good, and will not need repeating.

    The policy was taking 5% off overall average. But I only retook one course. Whereas some of my 5th year friends are retaking all their courses and re-applying for UW engineering.

    So does that mean they get more marks taken off then me? Or do we all get 5% taken off our overall average, regardless of the amount of repeat courses taken.

    • Thanks for your question. Our standard approach is to deduct 5% from the overall average, whether it’s one repeat or more. This is because our data analysis didn’t show any significant difference betweeen 1 and more repeats; they seemed to all be equally lower in performance in our first year program, so we use the same deduction. This may not seem entirely fair at first glance, but it gets a bit more complicated.

      For all of our engineering programs, we indicate that admission is by “individual selection”. What this means is that when we have a lot of applicants with similar scores/grades competing for the limited spaces, we may focus on more holistic factors. For example, we might favour the ones with no repeats or 1 repeat, versus those who repeated several courses. It’s impossible to say categorically however, since it’s all done on a case-by-case basis looking at all the data we have for each person compared to the other applicants.

  4. Another Question: What kind of justification is needed during the admission process for repeated courses so that a modified approach is not necessary?
    In other words, what would be a reason a student who has repeated a course not have 5% taken off their overall average.

    • The Admission Information Form will have a space to explain the reasons or rationale for repeating courses. It’s always a good idea to put down whatever reasons you had at the time (leaving it blank raises red flags). There are no particular reasons that are considered good or bad on their own. We look at each case individually and decide, taking into consideration prior grades and the nature of the situation. Obviously a serious medical situation could be a good reason to not penalize repeats. Depending on the situation, we might ask for more information or supporting documentation before making a decision.

  5. If it’s possible to get over the 5% penalty, is it recommended to repeat a course in any methods (ex. Private School, Summer School) ? For example, once you repeat a course and get 5% deducted from the overall average, what happen if that new overall average is much higher than the old one? Will that bring up the admission chance??

    • Yes, if the new grade is substantially higher then the chances are raised. But since the 5% is subtracted from the overall average, if you repeat one course you need to improve by at least 30 marks to come out ahead (in a six course average).

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  7. I am a BC student with an IB Certificate (only two IB courses). I took Calculus 12 in summer school because of my IB Math teacher’s strong recommendation. Due to the difficult and rigorous nature of the course, my whole IB Math HL class was advised to take Calculus 12 in summer school to prepare for it. I obtained a high mark in Calculus, but am now worried as to whether I will be deducted marks for taking IB Math HL 12 after summer school even though the curriculum of the two courses are quite different. Would this be considered to be a repeated course or not?

      • Thank you so much for your swift response! I was under the impression that they were viewed as the same course by universities. Since they aren’t the same course, would Calculus 12 be used instead of IB Math HL when calculating admission averages? (Calculus 12 is one of the prerequisites)

      • I’m not sure which would be used for admission average calculations in this situation, since IB Math can also be a prerequisite. It depends on how they show up on the school transcript, and whether the school submits IB predicted grades. When there is a mix of curricula, we try to pick the courses that best match our requirements and that show how strong the applicant really is. Since it’s always on a case by case basis, there is no standard answer.

  8. Hi, does retaking the Alberta diploma exam (which is worth 50% of overall subject mark) for one subject count as a repeated course? I retook the math 30 diploma exam and my math overall mark went down by a tiny bit. Would I be deducted 5% for retaking this exam?

    • Probably wouldn’t count as a repeat or be penalized, especially if the marked ended up about the same or slightly lower. You’re not really gaining any unfair advantage for admission, so there is no reason for a penalty.

      • Oh , thanks for the reply. I am quite relieved to hear that. So for my case, do i still need to write an explanation in the ‘reason for retake’ section of my application ?
        And as for how the penalty works in general, as long as I don’t receive an increase of average by doing a repeat there isn’t any penalty?

      • Yes, it would still be good to explain about a retake, just to help us understand what is going on. No, we don’t apply a repeat penalty if the second attempt was not much better than the first.

  9. Dear Professor,
    Thanks again for answering my question in another post about applying to UW. I think I am set for applying for 2015 admission.
    I am worried about my chances due to this post’s information.

    Again, my situation is: …[edited]… I am set to refresh the relevant courses online and may I know if my courses would be considered repeated classes, even though they were taken … years ago in HK.

    Thank you.
    Best,
    Rayson

    • Re-taking the required courses after several years is not considered a repeat. It’s more like a change in direction, because there have been other things going on in the meantime that improve an applicant’s level of maturity and experience. As an alternative to repeating high school courses, you can also consider doing introductory level university calculus, physics and chemistry instead. We might consider transfer credits too, although you would still have to start in first year.

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  11. hi sir. im in gr 12 ib. the course code for this course is SCH4U7. I currently have a 55% in this course. I am taking a normal night school course (not private school) as well and have 97% right now. this course code is SCH4U1. Will I get 5% deduction. It’s not fair to be honest, that there is no realization that for IB chemistry HL, there is no conversion at my school. waterloo does not do any conversion for us, and if my teacher and guidance counsellor are not converting my grades, it’s not fair that I get same treatment as academic student. Am I going to get deducted 5%. the course codes aren’t even the same.

    the same thing goes for math HL. im good in math and have 97%, but my class average is 62%. there is no conversion, and everyone i talked to in waterloo said waterloo doesn’t even care about whether ur in ib or not cause after conversion, we’re treated same as academic. but u don’t understand that only some courses like physics, economics get converted and not all grades. Last year we had 120 students in IB. this year we have 65 students. Almost half our grade dropped, why you may ask, there is simply no return from doing IB. I feel depressed and frustrated knowing that if I dropped out and was in academic, I could have for sure secured a position into engineering at Waterloo which is something i was working hard towards to get into. for an example, in math, for our Advanced Functions course we were studying basic calculus, optimization, min max, curve sketching while the academic Advanced Func course was stuff we did in grade 11 functions IB. my 97% in math is an untampered mark in that there is no bell curve whatsoever. to be honest, there should be an entrance exam for engineering, testing skills like contest questions, writing ability, physics, math applications. a standardized test solves the problem. but at the same time, i cannot complain because everyone in Waterloo engineering are people who deserve to be there. im not demeaning their efforts and their abilities, but what i find interesting is how im on the line competitively.

    • I can’t determine in advance if there will be a penalty, it depends on the circumstances and what you explain in the AIF. We have to use the grades that are electronically provided to us through OUAC, although we do give preference to IB students when comparing applicants with similar grades.

  12. Greeting, i am a grade 12 student taking the GCE A level courses provided by Edexcel. Last year, I got a grade of (d) in one of the units for chemistry and even though i studied a lot for that subject, the exam came up really difficult. I plan on retaking the TEST itself ONLY this year and study for it outside of regular school hours. Does that count as ‘repeating the COURSE’?
    Thanks

  13. Hey Professor,
    I am currently a grade 11 student in BC, taking calculus 12 at the moment. I am planning to take AP calculus 12 next year (since it contains somewhat more material). Would that be considered as a repeat? And would retaking the final exam be considered as retaking the course?
    Thanks

    • No, if it shows up on the transcript as a different course then it is not exactly a repeat so it wouldn’t automatically be penalized. However, if one course grade was drastically lower than the other we might reconsider which grade to use in the admission average calculation. Re-taking exams should be explained in the AIF so we can decide how to handle it.

      • Thank you for your reply!
        I wonder do I need to keep sending transcripts throughout the year at the end of each term, or should I be only sending the first transcript after I applied and the final one at the end of June? (I am attending a non-semester school in BC)

  14. Dear Professor,
    I am currently a grade 12 IB student, I’m currently considering if I should retake my SL Math exam, as I received an 80 in advanced functions and calculus and vectors. Which ultimately, bring my average down a bit to a ~85, which I do not feel will be strong enough to get me into the electrical engineering program (I might be wrong about this tho, depending on how competitive the program is). What I wanted to know is that will retaking just the SL math exam (not the entire course) be penalized by 5%? In the end would you say its worth retaking the exam (keeping my current grades, and the penalty in mind)?

    Thanks,
    David B.

    • An 85 average is not bad, so I’m not sure it is worthwhile repeating the exam. Hard to say if an exam re-write would be penalized, and by how much, since it depends on the circumstances and the admission team review. I would just focus on doing your best on the remaining courses.

  15. Just a quick question, would dropping a course halfway through (before the full disclosure deadline) and then taking that same course again next semester be considered as a repeated course and be penalized?

  16. Hey Professor,
    I am really confused to whether I should take a repeat for English in grade 11 because it may count as a mark for early acceptance and therefore my average will be anchored down by 5%. So my question is will my average drop by 5% if I repeat a course in grade 11?

      • Thanks for the reply Prof.!
        The mark I am worried about is ENG 3U, where I received a 72% but if I take ENG 4U in the second semester of grade 12 and if the university receives the average of ENG 3U received in a repeat course, would they still put a penalty on the overall average? Or is it even worth taking as a repeat?

  17. How does Waterloo treat Victory Lappers? Meaning those people who stay back a semester or year. Would it be possible for someone who didn’t get accepted into a program to re-apply and get accepted after doing a Victory Lap?

  18. Hey Professor
    I am applying for the University of Waterloo right now, I have just decided to repeat my grade 12 English course. I have a hard time understand the course the first time I take. So, I want to ask will the 5% penalty be apply if I only raise few marks.

  19. I retook grade 12 english, but the course content was really different when i retook it. If a math or science course was retaken I understand that the content is going to be the exact same because they follow a textbook. English is not like this, so will I still get penalized just as much if i retook english. Also, if you retake a course without a valid reason, are you automatically penalized 5%?

  20. Hello Prof Bill Anderson

    Just wondering, were there any cases people with repeated courses got accepted to Waterloo Engineering? Apparently, people in different forums generally say that if you repeat courses, it is impossible to get the offer.

    I’m an applicant from Ontario and I repeated 4 courses which boosted my average up to 94%. I understand the penalty for retaking courses which brings it down to 89% (still around 60% to 70% of possibility of getting the offer based on your graph). Yet, I hear rumours that it is basically impossible to get accepted to engineering at Waterloo if one has repeated courses.

    Are there any other disadvantages for re-taking courses? Or do I still have some decent chance to get accepted?

  21. Dear Professor,
    Thanks again in advance for answering my questions. Really appreciate it. Hope you are doing well.

    The question is: I would like to know if waterloo would treat the grades obtained from an accredited online school equally?The school is said to be the oldest online school. (Ontario virtual highschool)

    I am repeating one course online through the online highschool after communicating with the engineering admission staff at waterloo and they recommended vhs as one of the schools. I am registering four more classes but would like to hear your opinion first.

    I already read thoroughly waterloo’s admission website which says the school is legitimate. But I still have concern over the grades I obtain from them. Please kindly shed some light on the matter as I am new to online education and have concern towards their standing.

    Thanks again.
    Rayson

  22. Hi Prof,

    Your blog posts have been really helpful, and it’s very much appreciated.

    I am a grade 11 student from BC, currently taking Calculus 12. I have to admit that I did not take the course seriously, resulting in an expected final grade around mid-80s. I will be taking AP Calculus next year and I am determined to work as hard as I possible can to obtain a high-90s.

    So my question is: would the high-90s in AP Calculus be considered as a repeat of the mid-80s Calculus 12?

    Thanks a lot
    Kyle

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  24. Hi,
    I am from BC and i am currently taking AP chemistry and AP physics 2. In my school, by taking these courses I am given both an AP mark and a regular 12 mark. If I were to retake chemistry and or physics 12, would my average still be reduced?
    Thank you Anthony

  25. Hi,
    I had to withdraw from my old university. I went to college after a short break, and my grades increased by pretty much 50%. I’m getting stellar marks because I found my passion in math and computer science, 98% in Calc 1, 95 in Calc 2, 95 in Linear Alg, high mark in discrete math.. etc (no course below 90%). Can I still apply as a transfer to Waterloo, despite my previous failures in university? I’m not gonna omit the marks, because that is illegal and unfair to all of the applicants, but realistically speaking what can I expect? I will of course use the AIF to describe my situation dealing with depression for 1.5 years, but to be honest it all is due to me not being mature a few years ago. I hate using depression as an excuse, it feels like the child way out and not something I can stomach doing. Now that I have developed maturity and take everything seriously, can I expect an opportunity for admission for CS or do I have to find another school to transfer into?
    Thank you

  26. Hi Professor,

    I am an Ontario student, currently in grade 11. I am taking one grade 12 course this year, ICS4U. My midterm mark was much lower than I was expecting because I had one incomplete assignment when marks went in, which brought my mark down to an 85. I have since handed that in, and my current mark is a 95 in the class. However, there is a possibility that my school will be going on strike in the coming weeks, which could result in our midterm marks being counted as our final marks.

    If midterm marks were taken in place of final marks, would that be a valid reason to retake the course next year, or would I be penalized the 5% for it? My marks in Grade 10 and 11 ICS were 95 and 98 respectively, if that makes any difference.

    Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    Jake

  27. Dear Professor,
    I am in Grade 11 now. This semester I am enrolled in five courses. I want to drop the IB History (CHY4UW) so that I can focus more on other courses. Would a dropped course be seen negatively when it comes to Waterloo Engineering admission? (the History course will appear as a dropped course on my transcript, and I am not intending to take it again in Grade 12). Thank you.

  28. Hello Prof. Anderson,

    I am currently in the IB program. I took SPH3U (Gr. 11 Physics) during the summer after I finished Grade 10. However, due to reasonable complications at my school, I have to take Gr. 11 physics again in semester 1 of my Grade 12 year which is SL Physics, hence I’m repeating a Grade 11 course due to unforeseeable circumstances.

    Will I be deducted 5%, or will I not since Grade 11 Physics is not a prerequisite for engineering?

    Thanks

  29. Hi Professor,

    In my grade 11 year of high school I have taken AP Calculus AB and AP Physics 1. Next year I plan on taking AP Calculus BC and regular grade 12 physics. In my school the AP Physics 1 mark is considered as a grade 12 mark, by me taking the regular grade 12 physics next year, will this be considered a repeated course? Also by taking Calculus BC after Calculus AB would this be considered a repeated, as they do cover some of the same content.

    Thanks.

  30. Hi Professor,
    I will be taking AP Physics 1 next year and hopefully AP Physics 2 the year after. Will the fact that I didn’t take regular Physics 12 be a problem?
    Thanks

  31. Hello Professor,
    I took IB SL math 1 last semester, which is advanced functions OSSD, and finished with a 92%. I was told to upgrade my advanced functions mark by my math tutor who believes that I can upgrade my mark to 95+. I want to apply for the CPA/math program which is not engineering but I know they have similar expectations. I thought that upgrading would be a good idea since the program is competitive and a higher average would be more beneficial. Based on my previous marks in grade 11, I projected my top 6 marks to be around 93%. After reading your article, I’m questioning my decision to upgrade so should I upgrade?
    Kind regards,

  32. Hi Professor,
    I am studying in Alberta and have taken Chemistry-20 (CBE) during X grade summer. Now in XI grade, I intend to take Chemistry 20 IB (HL). Is my my summer Chemistry-20 (CBE) and Chemistry 20 IB (HL) considered a repeated course?

  33. Very informative, thank you for that . You mention that unless 30 percent points are added to the total repeating is not worth it, but what if I repeat 4 courses (chem,calc,precalc,physics) and have at least 25% increase on each subject’s percentage? I am currently repeating them as I got C’s across the board due to regrettable mistakes but will this make my application not even considered by admissions?

  34. Hi Professor,

    I was forced to fast-track Advanced Functions and Calculus in grade 11 as I was an IB student but then I changed schools this year and I cannot take IB courses anymore as my new school does not affer IB courses. Now, I find the workload very light and I am scared to lose my hardwork habits and that’s why I decided to take AP courses. Sadly, no one else is interested in such courses so now I have to study them on my own and I have to take the regural academic courses at the same time. I am satisfied with my Maths marks as well as my current garde 12 Chemistry mark and I would like to use them to apply; I am not taking the AP courses to boost my average, I am taking them to preserve my work habits, to stay in touch with maths since I have no maths courses this year and I do not want to stop practicing for a full year before university and for the sake of knoweldge. Nonetheless, I am scared after reading this post since my transcript will show two repeated courses : Calculus and Chemistry 12. I am wondering if I should writethe AP exams at the end of the year or not.

  35. Hi Sir,

    I know you are in the engineering department.

    However, I need to know how much is SPH4U required for science programs at Waterloo. What about Urban Planning?

    I am taking:

    MHF4U
    MCV4U
    SCH4U
    SBI4U
    ENG4U
    PSK4U

    I also took, BOH4M, CHI4U, PLH4M last year in Grade 11.

    My average is high 80s.

    Thank you so much for your time,
    Jason

  36. Thank you for taking your time making this thread. I’m a grade 12 student and I’m taking physics SPH4U1 for night school. This is not a repeated course. I’m not comfortable with the teacher I have and am now enrolled in night school. I also have other reasons for why I wanted to take night school. May I know if I’ll get a penalty, since I didn’t repeat the course. I’m applying for software engineering in Waterloo, with alternatives being computer science and computer engineering.

    Thank you

  37. Hi Professor,
    I’m currently a Grade 12 IB student, and I retook Math 31 (Calculus) in the summer and obtained 100% after an average of 91% in Math 31IB SL. My other IB math grades are all in the mid 90s but for calculus, I had a very hard time as I was focusing on improving my English grade and was also sick for almost 2 weeks. If I was to apply for the engineering program, my final average would be dropped from a 95% to a 90%. I’ve heard from many that students who have taken a repeated course in Math would have a very low chance of being admitted into the engineering program at Waterloo. I am wondering if the university would consider using my first attempt Calculus mark instead of my second attempt since the overall average would then be much higher.

    Thanks so much

  38. Hello Professor,

    I am currently doing my British system A levels. I am in year 13. For my AS level Maths I got a grade B because even though the average of my Core1 and Core2 modules was an A, I surprisingly didn’t do quite well on the Mechanics1 module exam. I am considering resitting the Mechanics1 exam, which would most likely bring my AS level grade up to an A. Without resitting, my overall A level Maths grade would possibly be an A, while if I do resit, my grade will likely to be an A, possibly A*. Do you know if I would get penalised and how the 5% off would be implemented in my A level grades. Also, would you recommend the resit, as it may not make a significant difference in my result.

    I appreciate your help.

  39. I have a question I took physics 12 last year in 2014 first semester. I wanted to review the materiel this year as I wanted to apply in 2016 in electrical engineering. Will I be penalized for retaking the course after a year. I don’t remember the material well; also during the school year in 2014 we had 3 different teachers. Due to which we didn’t get to cover most of the electricity unit. I wanted to take ap physics online but I was just a bit late to apply. I got 80 in my physics in the end of 2014.

    Thanks for all your help

  40. Hello! I’m a grade 11 student taking Advanced Functions, however my mark is in the low 80s. Realistically I’ll end with a mark that is in the mid to high 80s. I’ve had a very tough math teacher and a rough start to my year due to medical problems. For applying to competitive engineering programs this is very low, but is it fine if I make up for it in my other courses (ex., physics, chemistry, calculus, english, computer science) with mid to high 90s? I really do not want to repeat this course, but I am considering it since Advanced Functions is an important course. Would you recommend just sticking it through?

  41. How do I know which is a best High School in Oakville? I heard that not all high schools are treated equally when it come to students marks and admission to University. Is IB program a better choice for more credits, will make a difference when he will be accepted to university even though his mark might be a bit lower then regular high school. Does he has more credits when he will apply to Waterloo University, if he will continue in French Immersion.
    Is he better to take AP math courses then regular academic classes ?
    He is interested to apply for Engineering program at Waterloo.
    Thank you so much

    • We have no recommendations for high schools. Actually most are treated equally by us. IB programs are good preparation and are a positive factor. French immersion is not a factor for engineering admission. We encourage applicants to challenge themselves with AP or other enrichment activities if available, as it can be a better preparation for university.

  42. Hello, I am an Alberta High School student who is applying for the Mechanical Engineering Program. I keep reading over and over again (AIF, engineering brochure, website, and your website) that if a necessary course need to apply is repeated, then a penalty of up to 5% on the overall application is possible. I just wanted a clarification on this.

    I am only rewriting a Math 30-1 Diploma exam, which is worth 50% of my overall mark and is blended with my school mark of 50%. I am not repeating the course, but just repeating the exam. Thus, I am not getting to relearn the course material from a professional teacher but just rewriting the exam after my own studying preparations.

    So does the deduction apply only to repeated courses, that are taught again by a teacher who issues a new school mark worth 50% as well as the student gets to write a new diploma exam worth 50%. This in turn creates a whole new mark, different from the previous one awarded when the course was taken.

    By just rewriting the Diploma, I am not retaking the course, which means I keep my old school mark from last year and combine it with the new Diploma mark that I get from my re-write.

    Thus the question is, does retaking a diploma count as the same as repeating a course? And does the deduction of up to 5% on the application apply to both or just repeating the entire course?

    My school mark last year was 98% and I got 88% on the diploma so my overall mark was 93%.

    I want to retake the diploma and hopefully get 100%. So this new 100% combined with my 98% school should give a new mark of 99%.

    Will the university use my new mark or stick to the old 93%?

    I understand that if I get a lower score on the diploma or about 88%, then the penalty doesn’t apply.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

      • Thank you for your reply.

        So that means there isn’t a reason for me to retake the exam. If I get a lower mark, or a higher one, the university will just use my original mark and use it for admission and scholarships and not apply the penalty?

      • Well thank you again for clearing it up.
        I will indicate in my AIF, why I am retaking the diploma exam, but will also indicate that it is going to help for other school applications.

  43. Professor,

    If I failed advanced functions in high school and am now retaking it (I’ve been out of high school for three and a half years), will that be a drawback on my application and will I be penalized for it?

    Thanks for your time.

  44. I was reading about early rejections from Admissions 2016
    I’m completing all the required courses for this semester due to finishing a few from last year, however I was hoping to repeat courses for second semester because I don’t even some of the minimal average requirements. There were no medical conditions, but rather I only realized the importance of how important it is to try hard just recently. I understand that it is pathetic because grades are being submitted soon, however I don’t know how to compensate for an enlightenment that only occurred 5/8s of the way through a semester.
    Maybe I’m taking this too emotional and personal.
    Will I get rejected early before I even get to attempt to repeat courses?

    • We generally don’t do early rejections unless it is clear that the case can’t be improved by May. Explain the situation in the AIF (repeated courses section). However, repeating courses can have a significant negative effect on your ranking in a competition, so you might consider Waterloo as a “long shot” and focus on other choices too.

  45. But what if you repeat a course due to some extenuating circumstances and you provide the university with the official proofs of it amd as well as the student has performed well in the rest of the courses, will the university still consider that student less competitive than those who don’t repeat courses in high school?

  46. I have got 77% on my Grade 11 English and retaking it at summer school because I heard that Grade 11 marks would matter for the admission. Do Grade 11 marks are taken under consideration for the admission? Otherwise, would Grade 11 marks can be taken under consideration for the early admission? I am retaking Grade 11 English for getting better marks, but I am now hesitating whether I should withdraw or continue taking the course. Would I be penalized for retaking Grade 11 courses?

  47. Hello Professor,

    I am starting my Gr.12 year this September and would like to ask a few questions before the year begins. This is my current situation. I have received a 100% in my Gr.12 U/C (or M) Computer Engineering class; my teacher allowed my to skip the Gr.11 course, A 92% in my Gr.11 University English class and an 88% in both Gr.11 University Physics and Chemistry. However, I received a 74% in Gr.12 Advanced Functions and I am worried about that mark, especially since this is one of the required courses for engineering. I will be taking Calculus and Gr.12 U Physics in the first semester of next year, with Gr.12 U English and Chemistry in the second semester and I am confident I will receive marks in the high 80s and low 90s for those courses. However should I retake Advanced Functions and raise my mark in the class? Also should I take the class in the first semester (I will have to switch out of a class for that) or use it to fill the spare I am currently set to have in my second semester?

    Thank you for reading my long question.
    PS I would like to apply for the Electrical Engineering program at Waterloo

  48. Hi,

    I wanted to know what would happen in this specific situation:

    I have a 94% in both 12U math courses and I am going to grade 12. I decided to take summer school physics because I don’t have space for it in day school (I am an IB student btw). I got an 80 in the course and I am debating taking night school. I will be able to get a 95% average with the 80% but I can easily get a really good score in night school.

    I didn’t do well because or teacher didn’t really reach the course and only 2 other students got anything above a 90%. I think it’s unfair but I don’t have a really valid reason to put on the AIF. (I’m assuming the teacher was terrible at her job is no excuse?)

    So should I redo it/will I still be docked 5%?

    Also, it says it may dock 5% but is it upto 5% or a 5% for sure?

    Thank you,
    Anxious student.

  49. I took Grade 12 English in Night school during grade 11 and failed due to my overconfidence at midterm. Our midterm mark was calculated and distributed without the input of our midterm assessment(15%), therefore I did not make use of my school board’s full disclosure policy. I then took a remedial course for Grade 12 English on the advice of my guidance Councillor. Having now completed the course, I have decided to take Grade 12 English once more, this time in regular day school.

    Since many post-secondary institutes penalize both repeated courses and courses taken outside of day school, is this a wise decision? My mark in summer school was 74%, I know I can achieve over 90% in the learning environment of regular day school.

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