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Do Backlogs and Gap Years Affects your Study Abroad Plan


In reality, an annoying event, a backlog is an exam/test you couldn't complete on the first attempt. Gap years, on the other hand, refer to a break (noticeable gap) between two educational degrees because of various reasons, including work, personal situations, travel, etc.

Both backlogs and gap years create some discomfort for two reasons:

  • Universities expect reasonable explanations for the backlog and additional documentation to support gap years.
  • You worry that your profile might be tucked away amidst the heap of other glowing profiles.

While both these events are practical and acceptable reasons for stressing out and losing hope to study abroad, we are here to prove to you that it is not as bad as it looks. So, roll your sleeves and keep your hopes up because, by the end of this blog, you'll have lesser worries (but also lesser time to apply, so gear up folks!) 

How To Navigate Backlogs and Gap Years?

As cumbersome as both backlogs and gap years are - they're not the end of life and definitely not the end of your study-abroad dreams. Let's first understand how backlogs are counted:

Different countries count backlogs differently, and while some consider backlogs as the number of attempts taken to clear the subject, others only consider subject backlogs. But most universities accept applications with backlogs upon clearing the same. 


Failed subjects

Number of attempts


Failed subjects equals the number of backlogs. If you have not cleared 3 subjects, then you have 3 backlogs

Attempts to pass equals the number of backlogs. If you have attempted twice to clear the subject, then you have 2 backlogs.

Now that you know that international universities accept backlogs and gap years, let's look at some ways to work around backlogs and strengthen your application.

How To Navigate Gap Years?

You can justify your gap years with a solid reason and provide proof to support the same to let the universities know that though there has been a break, it was spent productively trying to strengthen your academic profile and hone your skills.

  • Work, volunteering, travel or short courses, whatever your reasons are, explain how such a break positively impacted your academic interests and motivated you to pursue a degree abroad.
  • In case of family emergencies or health reasons, explain the same in your SOP, highlighting your eligibility to pursue the course at the university and how the gap doesn't affect your resolve to achieve your academic objectives.
  • Also, a good score on standardised tests and entrance exams helps in making your profile attractive and enhances your credibility. 

Study Destinations That Accept Backlogs and Gap Years 

Not all universities frown at applications with backlogs and gap years. Universities abroad accept backlogs and gap years with minor variations in the number of backlogs accepted and category. All you need to do is understand if the preferred country finds your backlog count and the category acceptable.

1. Australia

One of the most lucrative study destinations for international students, Australian universities offer a range of courses and study programmes that accept applications with a maximum of 7-8 backlogs. If the university is among the Group of Eight universities, then the maximum backlogs would not exceed 2-3.

Please note that Australian universities consider the number of attempts as a backlog. So, if you've made three attempts to clear a particular subject, then the attempts will be counted as three backlogs. 

2. Canada

Canada is one of the world's most student-friendly countries, with immigrants making up approximately 21.5% of its population as of 2021. Canadian universities accept a maximum of 5 backlogs provided you score a minimum of 70% in your previous academic qualification.

However, after obtaining approvals from the admissions department, Canadian universities can accept up to 10 backlogs

3. New Zealand

One of the most affordable countries for studying abroad, New Zealand universities accept up to a maximum of 12 -15 backlogs. Kiwi universities prefer applications with practical experiences and productive extra-curricular activities. So despite the backlogs, with a good IELTS score and research projects or practical experience to your credit, your chances of securing admission are bound to improve.

4. The UK

One of the hottest and most preferred study-abroad destinations, the UK owes its reputation to some of the centuries-old, prestigious education institutions that provide the best education and career opportunities to students worldwide.

Universities in the UK accept up to a maximum of 15 backlogs! Yes, and that excludes the number of attempts. With a good GRE/IELTS score to back your profile and a decent academic qualification, studying in the UK with backlogs isn't as unbelievable as you think it is. 

5. The USA 

One of the top study-abroad destinations of all time, studying in the USA is a dream come true for international students. With the best educational and research facilities, the USA is home to some of the best educational institutions in the world.

US universities generally accept up to a maximum of five backlogs, however, some universities, in rare cases, accept up to a maximum of 12 backlogs. If you supplement your profile with a decent score in core subjects and English language proficiency, it increases your chances of admission to the university. 

6. Ireland

Gothic, serene and historically beautiful, Ireland is one of the best places to study a range of courses in arts and science. Irish institutions accept applications with a maximum of 4-5 backlogs on satisfying minimum academic qualifications and English language tests.

Will backlogs affect your Visa processing?

To address the elephant in the room, we understand most of you would be worried about the visa situation even if international universities accept backlogs.

Backlog situations don't affect visa processing for most countries as long as the universities in the country accept those backlogs. If the backlogs are brought up during the visa interview, give them an honest answer explaining your situation. 

Know more regarding the Student Visa Services.

How Does aecc help?  

At aecc, we provide end-to-end educational services to help you achieve your academic and career objectives. From helping you decide the right course based on your personality type and core strengths to hand-holding you through career interviews, we travel with you every step of the way.

There may be a few backlogs in your otherwise exemplary academic profile. Worry not, because now you know that you can still apply to your dream course. And gap years? If you've spent it on productive activities, you know it adds more value to your record!

To get more clarity on your backlog situations and discover study destinations and universities suited to your course, get in touch with our expert counsellors at aecc.


1. How many backlogs do US universities accept?

Most universities in the US will accept a maximum of 5 backlogs. However, some universities accept a maximum of 10-15 backlogs.  

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