Preparing a Petition

The University has made changes to the applicability of the ACORN Absence Declaration Tool. As of the Fall 2023 term, the Absence Declaration Tool will no longer be considered as supporting documentation for petition requests.

Connect with Your College for Advising Support

If you are experiencing circumstances that interfere with your academic work, your best source of guidance is an academic advisor in your College Registrar’s Office. They are familiar with U of T's processes and policies, have experience helping students and can take your whole experience into account when advising you, including any personal, medical or financial issues that may be affecting you. If you are a student with a disability, you should also speak with Accessibility Services to ensure that you are given any necessary accommodations.

Communication and email: Any petition-related communication from the Faculty or a College Registrar’s Office will be sent to your official email address. Make sure you have a valid U of T email address and that this email is listed on ACORN.

Note the Petition Deadlines

Petition deadlines vary depending on the type of petition. See the Petition Types section for pertinent deadlines. 

A petition is considered late if you submit it via the online petition system after the deadline. If you submit your petition after the deadline, be sure to explain why it was late in your personal statement. Keep in mind that, in most cases, being unaware of the deadline or being unfamiliar with the petition process are not acceptable reasons for lateness.

Choose a Petition Type

The first step in preparing a petition is to choose a petition type. View the table below for some examples of petition types and to learn more about the specific Petition Types you are considering. Keep in mind that this is a broad overview, and your best resource for petition guidance is an academic advisor in your College Registrar’s Office.

Your Situation What Are You Seeking to Do? Most Appropriate Petition Type
You missed a Faculty final exam. Write the exam at a later date. Deferred exam
You were unable to submit an essay by the original deadline and by the extended deadline provided by the instructor. Submit the essay after the end of the term/session. Term work extension
The ACORN academic drop deadline has passed and extenuating circumstances have adversely affected your performance/participation in a course. You do not want this course grade to negatively impact your GPA. Withdraw from the course after the drop deadline. Withdrawal without academic penalty


Things to Include in Your Petition

All petitions are submitted using the online petition system along with any supporting documentation. In your petition, you must include:

  • A copy of your course syllabus (for all course-based petitions, such as term work extensions, deferred exams, exam re-write, late withdrawal, late withdrawal without academic penalty, late application or removal of Credit/No Credit)

  • A personal statement to explain the circumstances that led to your petition request

  • Supporting documentation that verifies the claims made in your personal statement

Note that any documentation provided in a language other than English must be accompanied by an official translation of that document.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should explain what you are requesting and the rationale for why you believe your request should be granted. Describe in detail the personal, medical or other circumstances outside of your control that led you to submit a petition. Your personal statement should be at most two pages and double-spaced. It should only convey the necessary information about what happened. 

Answer the following questions in your personal statement:

  • What happened or what is happening in your life that caused you to submit a petition? 
  • What was the duration and timing of your extenuating circumstances (i.e., dates/times impacted)? 
  • Did you seek help at the time? If not, why not? If so, what happened?
  • If applicable, what other course work did you complete in the course? Explain how you were doing in the course overall.
  • If documentation is not dated at the time of the circumstances, why?

Supporting Documentation

Supporting documentation helps to confirm the details you have described in your personal statement. Documentation should relate to the nature of your circumstances. This can include medical documentation or other third-party documentation that verifies or vouches for your circumstances. Below are some examples of supporting documentation for various circumstances. If you have any questions about supporting documentation, talk to your College Registrar’s Office, as they can advise on how to make your petition as strong as possible. Make sure the supporting documentation you are appending to your petition supports the petition type and speaks to the circumstances indicated in your petition. For example, a petition rationale that involves an illness should include medical documentation that should speak to the impact on you  during the particular academic event or period.  

Sometimes, a member of your community or another professional (e.g., lawyer, religious leader, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, physiotherapist, etc.) may have detailed knowledge of your circumstances. In that case, it is best to consider having them write you a letter of support on official letterhead. Please ensure that all supporting documentation is in English or that an official translation is appended.

If you are submitting a petition due to health-related issues, you can submit a Verification of Illness or Injury (VOI) form, or if outside Ontario, a letter from a licensed practitioner in the region you are living in. You should seek medical assistance as soon as possible to validate the relevant day(s) of illness or injury on the VOI form.

If the reason for your petition is related to a disability, health concern or injury for which you are registered with Accessibility Services, you should submit a letter from your accessibility advisor.  

If you are submitting a petition due to a death, provide a death certificate or other proof of passing (e.g., newspaper article or obituary).

If you are submitting a petition due to an automobile collision, provide a collision report or police report. Please ensure that all supporting documentation is in English.

Confidentiality and Privacy

The University of Toronto respects your privacy. Personal information that you provide to the University via petition statements and documentation is collected pursuant to section 2(14) of the University of Toronto Act, 1971. To quote from the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy website, “Personal information is only shared within the University on a need-to-know basis with officials who need it for official University tasks.” Petition information is not available to all staff who have access to other parts of the student record, such as grades.
The petitions team may need to consult with instructors, staff in departmental offices or staff in College Registrars' Offices to clarify some aspect of a petition before reaching a decision. In these consultations, no personal details or circumstances underlying the request are shared. When petitions or appeals are heard by the Committee on Standing, any identifying attributes in the petition (such as name, student number and/or gender pronouns) are removed.

If your petition involves something extremely personal that would be troubling to include in a petition request, you should discuss your concerns with your College Registrar’s Office. Generally, it is advisable to disclose as many facts as needed to clearly convey the circumstances that led to your request. If you are providing a supporting document completed by a third party (e.g., medical practitioner, legal counsel, etc.), you may wish to discuss with them how much detail to include. What is most important is to convey how the circumstances impacted your studies.