It’s important for you to know what the general course expectations are and the late penalties for essays or rules for missed tests are. There’s nothing worse than not finishing an essay, only to later discover that 5% per day is docked off, up to a certain percentage (some classes can go up to 25%).
READ YOUR COURSE SYLLABUSES. It’s boring, I know. I hate doing it, but sometimes it’s worth it so you know what’s coming to you in the course. I find that a class where your mark depends on exams and essays have a higher late penalty than other classes (in my experiences so far). Plus, each class is different, so it’s best that you don’t get them mixed up, and always keep the syllabus on hand so you have a quick reference to these things.
For missed tests, it’s just like high school…a doctor’s note. But I wouldn’t recommend missing a test unless it’s an emergency. You never know when your prof will find a “convenient time” for you to retake it. For example, my professor for my Heredity in Society class told us that if we miss a test and provide her with a doctors note, she will let us retake the test, no problem….on the day of the next test! And I’m sure that no one wants to take two test in one day! So be mindful of what your professor wants from you! And if you aren’t sure, ASK.
I find (especially in an English class) that the “General Course Expectations” in the syllabus actually helps a lot. When writing an essay, it might be a good idea to refer back to what you’re supposed to learn from the course, and it will probably be useful in the essay. Who knows, it might give you a few ideas if you have writer’s block!