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Term promotions

Students are assessed at the end of every term and a decision is made on whether the student qualifies to proceed to the next term. The promotion details are given in the Examinations and Promotions Engineering section of the UWaterloo Academic Calendar.

Please contact the First Year Engineering Office if you have any questions regarding term promotions or related issues. 

Term 1A rules

Term Average

Term Failure Count


Academic Standing on Quest

Avg. ≥ 59.5



Avg. ≥ 80 = Excellent

Avg. ≥ 70 = Good

Avg. ≥ 59.5 = Satisfactory

Avg.≥ 59.5

1 or 2

Proceed to 1B

May Proceed to 1B

59.5 > Avg. ≥ 49.5


Required to repeat

Failed - required to repeat

Avg. < 49.5


Required to withdraw after 1A engineering

Failed - required to withdraw from 1A


  1. Natural rounding is used to determine the threshold averages of 50 and 60.
  2. Conditionally Promoted is changed to Promotion Granted when 1A failures are cleared.
  3. Students Required to Withdraw After 1A may request a Qualifying Program for Readmission (QPR).
  4. Students can determine their academic standing at the end of 1A.
  5. Options after failing 1A.

Term 1B rules

Term Average

Failure Count

Formal Decision

Academic Standing on Quest

Avg.≥ 59.5




Avg. ≥ 80 = Excellent

Avg. ≥ 70 = Good

Avg. ≥ 59.5 = Satisfactory

Avg. ≥ 59.5

1 or 2


Conditionally Promoted

Conditional - must pass failures before graduation

59.5 > Avg. ≥ 49.5



Required to Repeat Term

Failed - must repeat term

49.5 > Avg.



Required to Withdraw Engineering

Failed - required to withdraw


  1. Natural rounding is used to determine the threshold averages of 50 and 60.
  2. 1A failures are added to the overall failure count at the end of the 2A term.
  3. Conditionally Promoted is changed to Promotion Granted when term failures are cleared.
  4. Students who are Required to Repeat the Term must achieve an average of 60% or better with no course grades below 50% on their repeat term. Otherwise, they will be Required to Withdraw from Engineering.
  5. Students Required to Repeat Term must repeat 8 months (2 terms) after the failed term.
  6. Students Required to Withdraw may request a Qualifying Program for Readmission (QPR).

Clearing failed courses

It is important to note that these options are not applicable to courses failed in a term that a Required to Repeat Term or Withdrawal decision was earned. A successful repeat term or QPR will clear all courses failed in the original term.

Students must pass failed courses that are required for their degree. In other words, a student's failure count must be equal to zero prior to graduation. We strongly encourage students to clear failed courses ASAP since failures accumulate and the course material is familiar. Several options for clearing failed courses are listed below:

  • Retake and pass the failed course in a future term. This option depends on the availability of the course in a specific term and your academic or work term schedule.
  • Take and pass an equivalent course at UWaterloo or another institution. This is usually a more flexible option since the equivalent course may be delivered through the Centre for Extended Learning or scheduled at night, which may allow you to take it on a work term. It is important to note that the First Year Office decides if a course is equivalent to a first year course, and your specific program department decides on equivalency in upper years. To take a course at another University you must apply for a Letter of Permission which allows you to enroll as a visiting student, determines the UWaterloo equivalent course, and transfers the completed course grade to your UWaterloo record.
  • Write and pass a supplemental (supp.) exam in the failed course. This option applies only to students who have been awarded a supplemental exam (the code SUPA shows to the right of your mark on your unofficial transcript on Quest after the official fully-graded date) and core engineering courses (i.e., doesn't apply to electives in other Faculties). The First Year Office awards supplementary exams for course grades between 39 and 49 inclusive. The Registrar's Office sends supplementary exam registration forms to the permanent address of students awarded a supplementary exam. A supplemental exam is a final exam in the failed course that is usually written in the final exam period of a term the course is offered. Passing the supplementary exam (50% or greater) earns a credit in the course and clears the failure. Note that the original grade is not changed (the code SUPA should change to SUPS). Failing the supplementary exam means that options 1 and 2 above must be used to clear the course (SUPA changes to SUPN).

Clear failure with supplemental exam

If you have successfully completed the term, but have failed a required course, then you may clear the course failure by one of two ways:

  1. If your course grade is between 39-49% you are permitted to write the supplemental exam for a fee of $50.00. The designation of SUPA (Supplemental Exam Allowed) will be assigned to your transcript and a Supplemental Exam Registration Form will be sent to you from the Registrar's Office. This form must be completed and returned along with the fee to the first year office for an academic advisors signature. You can determine if a supplemental exam is being offered by consulting the Schedule of Classes or by contacting Liz Skibicki. If you obtain a mark of 50% or more on the supplemental exam then the designation will change to SUPS (Supplemental Exam Satisfied). If you do not pass the supplemental exam, the designation will change to SUPN (Supplemental Exam Not Satisfied) and you must retake the course or an equivalent. Only one attempt at writing a supplemental exam is permitted.

  2. If your course grade is below 39% then you must clear the course failure by retaking the course or an equivalent by obtaining a grade of 50% (or 60% if taken at another institution with a Letter of Permission). Once successfully completed "Fail Cleared" will be added to your transcript. If you obtain a grade of less than 50% then see rules 6 and 9 in the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar.

Please note: The conditions of the supplemental exam include an expiry date on the supplemental exam registration form. Failure to meet the deadline will result in you forfeiting the right to a supplemental exam; therefore you must retake the course or an equivalent.

Mark verification

Every attempt has been made during the processing of your course grades to ensure that your course work and exams are correctly marked and entered. However, errors may occur given the large number of marks to process. As a result, every student has the opportunity to verify that their course grades have been correctly calculated and entered.

You may contact your instructors to request your mark break-down. Verify that your course work (assignments, quizzes, labs) and midterm marks were recorded correctly. Verify that the announced marking scheme produces the overall course mark.

It is important to note that many courses advertise and enforce a deadline for verifying course work and midterm marks.

You may also contact your instructors to ask them to check your final exams for marking errors (unmarked questions and incorrect addition). You have the right to view a copy of your final examination paper under the supervision of your instructor (or a course, department, or faculty representative). Some instructors will insist that you view the exam in person, and others will check it in your absence. It is important to note that exam marks can go up or down during the verification.

The purpose of mark verification is to address concerns of a gross error in a course mark. It is not intended to be a debate on marking schemes or a forum to get marks based on extenuating circumstances (e.g., "please give me X marks so I can be promoted", or "pass me because I was sick", etc.). Extenuating circumstances must be evaluated by the First Year Engineering Office and/or the Faculty of Engineering Examinations and Promotions Committee. Your course instructor is responsible for assigning a grade based on academic merit. Again, it is important to note that course marks can go up or down during the verification.

If following these steps you discover that you have been treated unfairly and have been unable to informally resolve this with the instructor and the First Year Engineering Office, then you may contact the Associate Dean of Engineering Undergraduate Studies, Professor Wayne Loucks, to discuss a formal review or an appeal.

Non-degree term

What does non-degree mean and what is its use?

Engineering non-degree is a temporary status that allows students to enrol in an academic term for the purpose of facilitating a transfer or retaking 1A courses prior to repeating 1B.

How do I arrange for a non-degree term?

Complete a Plan modification/Internal Transfer form. Complete the front requesting the Engineering Non-degree program and filling in the reason for the non-degree term (e.g., Non-degree term to transfer into the Faculty of Science). Complete the "courses required by admitting department" table on the second page of the form. Students must build their own conflict free schedule using the Schedule of Classes. (Also check the Calendar for course descriptions). Submit the completed form to Karen Dyck in the First Year Engineering Office.

Transfer students must submit a signed note from the program of interest signifying their approval of the course selection. This note is usually on the second page of the plan modification form. Note that the program of interest may have to sign specific courses listed in the table to allow enrolment in restricted courses (alternatively a Course Override form may be used).

Voluntary strengthening students must take at least one 1A course or equivalent.

I want to transfer to another faculty at the University of Waterloo. Who should I contact?

Students interested in transferring to another faculty must contact the academic advisor of the program of interest to discuss their transfer options and the program's transfer procedures.

How do I modify my courses prior to or during drop/add period of the non-degree term?

Students interested in changing their course selection should first attempt to make the change on Quest themselves. If the Quest system does not permit the student to make the change, then they are asked to complete and submit a course override form to Karen Dyck in the First Year Engineering Office.

When can I enrol in a non-degree term?

The deadline for a non-degree term is one month prior to the start of term. Stream-8 students requesting a voluntary strengthening term must wait until the Spring term. 

Please Note: the plan modification form deadline is:

  • Spring 2016 - Monday, April 4
  • Fall 2016 - Monday, August 8
  • Winter 2017 - Monday, December 5

How many non-degree terms are allowed?

Students are permitted to take one non-degree term, however on occasion a second may be required for transitional purposes only.

I want to do a non-degree strengthening term prior to repeating 1B. What courses should I choose? Can I take non-engineering electives?

Students wanting to voluntarily strengthen their 1A background and/or clear 1A failures can enrol in a non-degree term provided they take at least one 1A engineering course or equivalent. Students can take non-engineering electives for a total of three courses. (Students enrolling in a voluntary strengthening term prior to a QPR term must score 50% or greater in each course. Scores below 50% will disqualify students from QPR).

Repeating a term

This is the normal decision for students who have a 1B term average below 59.5%, no grounds for a petition, but are still committed to UWaterloo engineering. It gives students an opportunity to make the necessary adjustments and create support structures to build a strong first year foundation. Often, students who do this, place at or near the top of their class, and this academic strength continues in upper years.

When dealing with this decision, students will have to plan for the term after their work term and before they repeat the term. There are two general options:

Work to gain more experience and increase savings​

Students can work during this term, but it is important to note that you will not be a co-op student and will not receive a co-op credit. This means you will work as a regular student. You must inform your employer regarding your change in status since it influences tax credits. Note that students who repeat a term are set to have 7 official work terms whereas only 5 co-op credits are required to graduate.

Take courses at UWaterloo th​at will strengthen your 1A background.

Students may be eligible to return to UWaterloo to strengthen their background. This means they would take 1A courses or equivalents (e.g., a student who struggled in 1A and 1B calculus should retake 1A calculus). Students cannot take any core course or equivalent courses from the 1B term they will be repeating. However, students may be able to take general electives or Complementary Studies Electives (CSEs) with the strengthening course(s).

Please contact an advisor from the First Year Engineering Office to discuss and plan this option.

Important references:

What courses do I have to repeat?

A student must repeat all core courses in which they scored below 70%. If the term includes a Complementary Studies Elective (CSE), any CSE or non-engineering elective may be chosen. The student excused from repeating courses in which they scored 70% or greater, must replace these courses with non-engineering electives to maintain a full course load for their program term.

What do I do if I am excused from repeating a course (scored 70% or greater in my first attempt)?

If a student is exempt from retaking a course then the course must be replaced with an elective course.

What are acceptable courses for replacing an excused course on a repeat term?

Acceptable courses are either complementary study electives or general elective courses.

Why do I have to wait two terms (8 months) before repeating the term?

It normalizes the time penalty for students in all programs and streams. This is specified in the E and P Academic Decisions Rule #6.

I am in Stream 4 of a dual-streamed program, can I repeat 1B with the Stream 8 class?

Unfortunately a stream switch is not possible. Students are required to stay out a minimum of two terms and then expected to resume their studies in the same stream they were originally admitted into.

What can I do during the term (4 months) prior to repeating the term?

Students can enrol in a voluntary strengthening term in order to clear previously failed courses or to strengthen their academic background to help improve their chances of success.

What is a voluntary strengthening term?

A student requests to enrol for an Engineering non-degree term in order to strengthen their academic background before returning to repeat and/or clear a 1B failure. Acceptable courses would be 1A core or equivalent courses in which the student is weak in.

How do I arrange for enrolment in my repeat term?

Students wishing to return and repeat the failed term must notify their academic advisor.

Should I be enrolled in a Work Report on a repeat term?

Students should not be enrolled for the Work Report credit on a repeat term.

What are the mark requirements to pass a repeat term?

Promotion rules for a repeat term are a minimum term average of 59.5% with no course mark below 50%.

Is there a limit to the number of repeat term decisions a student can earn?

There are no more than two repeat terms allowed. A student receiving a third failed term will be Required to Withdraw from Engineering.

I was awarded a No Penalty repeat term via a petition. What is the effect of the No Penalty?

The no-penalty designation means that the term is not counted as a repeat term with regard to the number of times a term can be repeated or in the calculation of the total number of terms of full-time study in the program. This condition is normally applied as a result of extenuating circumstances which significantly affected the student's performance in the failed term.