I've just came across the collocation 'clear the exam'.

Even though I do understand the meaning from the context, I could not find this phrase in Longman dictionary, and when googled the search results are mostly shown for 'pass the exam'.

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I was just wondering about the frequency of usage, etc.

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    That's a link to a question on Quora; what makes you think the asker is a native English speaker? Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 13:56
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    If you want to do google search for a phrase, use quotation marks "clear the exam" . For the frequency, you can use google Ngrams Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:15
  • @DanielRoseman Quora question was just the result of my googling :) Originally I've faced that phrase while preparing to the certification exam. Here's a link to it istqbtests.net/…
    – Olha Horak
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 10:04
  • I was texted just last night by a neighbor from India “thank you for sharing your wifi today. I was able to take the test without any issues (although I didn’t clear it).” This, and an earlier comment lead me to believe that this usage is common in India.
    – Ken
    Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 0:57

1 Answer 1


Clear exams or clear an exam seems to be a common expression in Indian English.

I've never encountered it in US English; but it doesn't appear at all foreign or quaint. We use clear in racing (horse and human) to speak of successfully leaping over a fence or hurdle, and clear the hurdles is often extended figuratively to other sorts of obstacle, such as legal and regulatory requirements.

In about three hours I'll be calling my wife, who is to turn in the last of three doctoral comps at noon. If she says "Well, I've cleared that at last!" I'll know exactly what she means.

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    I know some incompetent English leaners in Malaysia use that phrase because it's a direct translation of "selesai peperiksaan" in my native language. Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:31
  • @user178049 It's perfectly competent English--it's just not the usual English. But that's how the language grows. Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:39
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    I've taught in Canada and lived in Texas and never heard the expression. I understood it immediately, however.
    – WRX
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 14:46
  • As on-line education becomes more ubiquitous, a new meaning is emerging: "My browser locked up before I was through taking the test. Can you clear the exam so I can complete it?" (In that case, though, clear the exam is really just a shortened version of clear the exam attempt.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Feb 6, 2017 at 16:25
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    Not British English either. It sounds odd to my ears and it is not immediately obvious what it means. Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 22:49

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