Did you give the ACC exam last year?

Here, the word "give" sounds absurd. Is there some word(s) for replacement for give or maybe some word which is specially meant to be used for exam ?

Can you suggest a couple of such words?

  • 11
    Can you be more specific about the role being discussed? Is this a candidate taking the exam, the authority sponsoring the exam, someone overseeing the administration of the exam, or someone else? Oct 13, 2018 at 21:10
  • 3
    This looks like a possible duplicate of difference in verb collocation with exam or A professor takes/gives/sets exams. Please edit your post to clarify who is "giving" the exam.
    – Em.
    Oct 14, 2018 at 3:00
  • It might also be worth clarifying what dialect of English they're hoping to sound natural in, since it can vary by region.
    – V2Blast
    Oct 14, 2018 at 11:41

3 Answers 3


If you study for an exam, then sit down and answer the questions, then you are taking the exam. I’ve also heard “sit an exam”.

If you write down exam questions, then hand them out to your students, then you are giving the exam.

If you watch over students taking an exam, you are proctoring the exam.

  • 3
    Invigilate can also be used (in the same sense as proctor), especially in UK English. Oct 13, 2018 at 18:59
  • 4
    In Canadian English, the most natural phrase for the first case is to write an exam. This unfortunately causes confusion when mingling with our friends south of the border, as there, writing an exam unequivocally means creating the questions!
    – Schism
    Oct 13, 2018 at 20:18
  • @Schism I find writing an exam more less absurd than giving one. Oct 14, 2018 at 2:45

If by "give" you mean "handed out the exam and watched while the students took it" then it's perfectly idiomatic.

Our History teacher gave us a pop quiz this morning, but I think I did OK.

Otherwise you can say administer a test, although this is more formal, and more common with standardized, official tests (such as whatever the ACC is). You would not normally write a test you administer, but only oversee the testing process.

Proctor similarly means to administer a test, although it usually is applied to the authorities in the room while the test is being taken. Someone who administers a test might manage the group of people who proctor that test.


For the context of a teacher writing an exam for their students to sit, the word "set" seems to work fine.

I set my students a test on World History.

Our maths teacher set us a hard test.

(This might be British English specific, but I see no reason why it wouldn't be understood any way.)

  • 3
    In American English I think people generally don't use this phrasing, but the meaning would probably be understood.
    – David Z
    Oct 14, 2018 at 10:12

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