When a student is unable to clear a paper during the first attempt in their UG or PG degree, a backlog is registered and it is not correct to term this as a failure as institutions allow students to clear these backlogs by reappearing for the assessment.
A gap period is a break between high school and an undergraduate degree or between an undergraduate degree and postgraduate degree which may occur due to work, travel, emergency, preparation for an entrance examination or skill development.
Both the phenomena can affect the candidature of a student when applying to foreign universities but these are not considered to be negative effects. Most tier 1 college look for candidates who have cultivated a commendable academic profile rather than looking into backlogs.
Backlogs cost a candidate heavily but they can be balanced by performing better in other subjects during the undergraduate program and participating in other related projects such as research, internships, etc., that showcase the practical skills.
Also, a good GRE/GMAT score proves crucial in proving the candidature and it is necessary to ensure that there are no active backlogs during the time of application. If the candidate holds an active backlog, he/she will be receiving a conditional offer letter and the admissions will be confirmed only with the confirmation that the backlogs will be cleared before the commencement of the examination.
Backlogs are counted on the basis of the number of attempts and the subject count. Failed subjects are considered as backlogs irrespective of the number of attempts taken to pass in the US and the UK. However, Universities in Australia will view the number of attempts as backlogs.
Different universities have different acceptable limits of backlogs. Private Universities in Australia accept up to seven or eight backlogs while the US, Canadian and New Zealand universities accept a maximum of five backlogs. However, institutions in the UK accept students with 15 backlogs while Germany is even more lenient on admitting students with backlogs.
The candidate will be required to furnish a backlog certificate issued by the institute mentioning the backlogs and marks scored in each. Students with no backlogs are also required to furnish a certificate which will state the same.
Similarly, the candidate can also explain the reason for the gap year justly and highlight the positive impacts which will surely strengthen the candidature. Admission officers consider profiles from all walks of life and top-ranked institutes in the world encourage gap years for profile-building activities such as gaining real-world experiences and volunteer activities.
Candidates who have been consistent with their performance are considered by Tier 1 universities and thus, they do not favour backlogs or gap years unless the students can justify themselves with a strong profile. Good Standardized test scores help in overcoming these obstacles. Applying to Tier 2 or Tier 3 universities can be an option for those with gap years and backlogs.
These universities are, however, at par with Tier 1 universities and it does not mean that the quality of education and exposure is low at these universities. Moreover, private universities are more accepting of students with backlogs and gap years than public universities.