What do you do with exams?

Do you take them? Write them? Do them? Sit for them?

I confused the heck out of someone last week when I told him I was writing an exam. He thought I was actually making up questions for the exam, while I just meant that I’d be sitting at a desk answering the questions.

I’ve always spoken of “writing” exams. Sometimes I’ll say “take”, but not nearly as often.

What do you say?

I’m wondering if it’s a regional thing, so please mention your general location!

I’m in the South (Georgia) and I’ve always “taken” exams, altho I have heard of “sitting for” exams.

I would think you were composing the questions as well, and I’ve lived all over the US. I’ve usually heard “taking”, with “sitting for” typically reserved for more formal exams - the bar, etc.

I take exams, although more commonly I take quizzes or tests, usually ‘exam’ is reserved for labelling finals.

I’ve heard of ‘sitting’ and ‘writing’ and had a vague notion that those were UK terms.

Here you generally “do” an exam or “sit” an exam.

A South African colleague always talks of “writing” her exams.

In my experience at two Canadian universities (University of Toronto and University of Alberta), one takes courses, at the end of which one writes exams.

One or two of my older professors have spoken of “sitting an exam,” but that is not a common term, in my experience.

I grew up “taking” exams. Then I entered an internationally-run program in high school, and by the end of it we all “sat” exams, and occasionally stuff from the program (which is headquarted in Cardiff, IIRC) referred to “writing” them.

But whenever we talked about “sitting” exams with other, normal people at school, we got fairly odd looks.


Virginia and New England experience, here. The responses from other areas of the world are typical, based on what I know, of the areas in question.

Just curious, are you the only one in your locale that actually says this, or do other people in your area use this term as well?

I hail from Atlanta, originally, and I say “take” or “done”. I’ve noticed my Canadian friends say “write”.

I’ve always taken exams. However, in more formal usage, like grad school catalog program descriptions, I’ve seen “sit for” being used.

I would take, sit, or do an exam. I would assume you meant you made up questions for the exam, or set the exam, too.

Take. Sit for formal exams.

Would also assume write meant you were preparing the exam for students.


Coming from the east coast, it’s the same here. Taking or sitting and exam would be weird to my ears. Coming up with questions would be writting up an exam.

I would always take exams, tests, and quizzes.

I would write a paper, theme, thesis, or report.

I would sit for an exam and take it.

I have a final in Econ on Thursday.

I had my final for Econ last Thursday.

I am taking my final (or taking my exam) for Econ right now.

I’m not alone - I think it’s a fairly even split between saying “take” and “write” up here. Even I switch between the two. And I always take quizzes, not write. And I really could not explain that one if you asked, so please don’t!

I perform them. Physical exams, that is.

Quizes/tests/etc, I take.

In these parts, you take exams. Any other word placed in there will confuse people and make you sound a little odd.

I take an exam. I have heard sit but don’t use it myself. For some reason I think of “sitting an exam” as a Britishism.