admission exams or admissionS exams?

Getaway

Member
Thai
Hello,

I'd like to know if we should say:

All candidates are required to take an admission exam or an admissions exam?

I found both with S and without S for admission when used with exam.

Thank you.
 
  • pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    I've seen both also. I don't think there's any difference, and the institution administering the test can call it whichever one it likes. (For the record, I like "admissions" better, but that's just personal preference.)
     

    Getaway

    Member
    Thai
    I've seen both also. I don't think there's any difference, and the institution administering the test can call it whichever one it likes. (For the record, I like "admissions" better, but that's just personal preference.)
    Is one American English and the other British English?

    Anyone can help me sort out this thing please?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Normally the first noun is singular in any noun + noun combination (the example I always use is: dog food is food given to dogs). But in business and legal contexts, the plural is more common than it is in ordinary language. 'Admissions policy' sounds fine beside 'admission policy', because it's in that sort of context. Both are very common - the difference is not important.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    When the plural noun in question has a meaning that differs from its meaning as simply the plural of a count noun, it can remain plural in a compound. Otherwise it should become singular.

    Thus, an exam taken to determine whether someone is to be admitted is an admission exam, but an exam to be processed by the "department of admissions", for example, is an admissions exam. In other words, admission is the word for an instance of being admitted, and admissions used attributively will refer to something other than instances of being admitted.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    There are two reasons for using the singular.

    1) It's an adjective; English adjectives have no plural.
    2) You take the exam to gain (an) admission.
    Actually, I disagree with you, Keith: it's not an adjective for me, it's a noun modifying another noun - which opens up the possibility of a plural inflection:cool:.

    Traditionally, as Forero said, noun modifiers are used in the singular unless the noun concerned is used only in the plural or has a different meaning in the plural: so shoe shop, but arms manufacturer. There are quite a few examples, however, of plural noun modifiers which don't conform to this 'rule'. Some linguists suggest that this is one of the ways in which English is currently changing - here's Michael Swan on the subject:
    Other current changes in small corners of grammar include the gradual replacement of inflected comparatives and superlatives (commoner used to be commoner but more common is now more common), and a growth in plural marking on noun modifiers (antiques shop, drugs problem, arrivals lounge...).

    To be honest, I don't know what I'd say in the present case: I don't think I use the term 'admission(s) exam'. For me, it's an 'entrance exam' (singular:)).
     
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