Universities want to help
Universities have an obligation to be as inclusive as possible, and that includes religious observance. Most Universities have a procedure to assist with students who respect certain holy days. Check your university website and you will very probably find a statement similar to this:
"Religious commitments during examinations: If, for religious reasons, you are unable to attend exams on a Sabbath, holy day or religious festival you must inform the Examinations Office by the last Friday in October of the relevant academic year giving details of the dates on which you will be undertaking religious observance. The University will make every effort to avoid arranging exams on a Sabbath or holy day for those students who have informed the Examination Office as required. The University, however, reserves the right to hold exams on such days if no alternative time is convenient."
Naturally, this is something best to flag up with the University near the beginning of the academic year rather than a week before the exams! Plan ahead.
I was horrified to open my exam timetable and find that one of my final exams was planned for a Sabbath! I had heard of this happening in other countries, but not here. There was no question in my mind as to what I was going to do. There was no way I could go to that exam. All sorts of worries began to surface: Would I fail my whole degree? Had I wasted the last 3 years? What would I do now?
Then I remembered that it might be a good idea to pray about it! I told my family and contacted Mick Smart, who was then the Pastor of my home church. He did everything he could to reassure me and started to look into what the best action would be.
The university accepted a letter from my Pastor explaining the reasons that I could not sit the exam on Sabbath. The university agreed that I should stay at the Pastor’s house until after Sabbath and then go into university and sit my exam from 10pm-1am. A very kind non-Christian lecturer sat with me that night and even drove me home afterwards! Although she did not share my faith, she had a great respect for my actions and asked me many questions.
And the result? I scored more highly on that exam than any other and this boosted my final degree classification to a level above what I had imagined I could achieve. The lecturer who had stayed with me even wrote me a personal letter congratulating me on my results. God certainly blessed me for being faithful to Him.