to "write" a test (instead of to "take" a test)


Senior Member

Usually, in English, you say "to take a test" or "to sit an exam" in order to say that you have to "do" or to "take part" in a test/an exam, meaning for example, you have to answer the questions in the test.

Many German people say "today I have to write a test" since you say in German "Ich schreibe einen Test (literally: I write a test)". But if I say "I have to write a test today", to me it means I am the teacher and I need to "prepare" a test, meaning, I mean to write down the questions for the test.

I saw on the Internet that it might be possible to say "to write a test" in the meaning "to take a test" in South Africa. I would like to stick, though, to British or American English.
Is it right or wrong to say "to write a test" in American or British English if you want to say "to take a test"?

Many thanks.
  • lordignus

    Senior Member
    British English
    As far as British English goes, you are correct in saying that "write a test" gives the impression that you are a teacher preparing a test, so would not be suitable for the meaning of "taking a test".
    Not 100% about American English, but I suspect the same applies.


    New Member
    English - America
    I would agree with was said, but I was wondering. There is a youtube clip of "Minnie Pearl - Jasper High on the Johnny Cash show" where the students sing ".....we were suppose to write a test." Which leads me to believe they meant "take a test" as in be tested. I was wondering maybe it is/was a Southern (American) and/or old fashioned expression, but I couldn't find anything on it.


    Senior Member
    I just watched a Canadian teacher who said "When you're in school, sometimes you have to write a test", and he meant students, not a teacher preparing a test. How come? Is that acceptable?



    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    In BE we "take a test". You're right that we wouldn't normally say that we have to write a test.

    We're having an English test today.
    We're going to have a written test today.
    (rather than an oral test)


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Exactly. Yes, we sit an exam or take a test. I'd understand 'write a test' as foreigner's talk for the same thing. In BrE, if you are preparing a test or exam, you say set a test or exam.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    would you think that it must have been a non-native to have said that?
    Not necessarily. For example, if it was a very young child and they were uncomfortable with written work, it could sound quite natural. It doesn't strike me as the kind of thing that only a non-native speaker would say. I might think it was a native speaker expressing themselves rather awkwardly. (It happens).
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