When do we use in and on with the word test/exam if it comes to school subject or scope?

I mean the sentences such as:

  1. I am having a test on irregular verbs (Can I also say in irregular verbs?)
  2. I am having a test in Maths. (Can I also say on Maths?)

1 Answer 1


When you are talking about the subject, the specific thing being studied, you say "on". When you are talking about the class, you say "in".

"We are having a test on the French Revolution." The French Revolution is what you are studying.

"We are having a test in History." History is the name of the class.

This can be tricky because the name of the class is probably a subject in a broad sense: history, math, science, whatever. But the point is that the CLASS is called "history" but the topic of discussion is "the French Revolution".

If you were in a class that covered many subjects, like you're in a one-room school house where one teacher teaches everything, then the only class is "school", so you might say "we had a test in school today" or "we had a test on history".

If you had a class that was specifically about the French Revolution, like History 314, "Studies in the French Revolution", then you might say "we had a test in French Revolution class today", which you might abbreviate to "a test in French Revolution today".

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