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The number of students appearing at the written examination increases every year.

Is the above sentence grammatically correct ? This is a error spotting question asked in my exam although for sounds better here but is using at grammatically incorrect ?

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    Your biggest problem is that appearing is an unlikely/non-idiomatic word in this context. Probably most native speakers would simply refer to the number of students taking the written examination. If for some reason it's important to convey the specific allusions of appearing, it might be better to consider alternatives such as show up, turn up, attend, arrive. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 8 '17 at 14:08
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    @FumbleFingers if you hadn't said it was odd, I would have assumed it was just another BrE thing I didn't know about, similar to "to sit an exam" (which Americans don't use). – Andrew Jun 8 '17 at 16:18
  • @Andrew: I did actually consider including sit in the first comment, but I thought it might not be familiar to everyone. Having just checked Google NGrams, I see you're absolutely right that it's virtually unknown in AmE (but it's at near-parity with take in BrE). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 8 '17 at 16:32
  • Why would it be "grammatically incorrect"? At is a preposition of place, isn't it? The number of students appearing at the mouth of the non-existent, imaginary monster increases every year is grammatically correct. – green_ideas Jun 8 '17 at 18:30
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The number of students appearing for the written examination increases every year.

I would use for to indicate that the purpose of the "students appearing" is to take the written examination.

  1. preposition
    You use for when you state or explain the purpose of an object, action, or activity.

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