I've read a tutorial about article on Cambridge. I've also understood the general rules about the usage of "the".

How about a famous examination/test, like IELTS? By "famous", I mean something like "the with things that are universally known", which is one the rules in that tutorial.

Which of these should I use?

I'm preparing for IELTS test.

I'm preparing for the IELTS test.

I'm preparing for IELTS speaking test.

I'm preparing for the IELTS speaking test.

In my point of view, I should use "the", as it's famous. Is my understanding right, Especially the reason? My concern is, wether it's too much to use "universally known" to describe a test?

  • The use of the article has nothing to do with whether the test is famous or not. And it should be "examination" and not "examine". What do you think - should we use the article or not?
    – AIQ
    Jun 5, 2020 at 2:45
  • @AIQ Thanks for your reminder. I have fixed that and explained a little bit why I use "famous".
    – Piete3r
    Jun 5, 2020 at 3:29

1 Answer 1


The use of the definite article doesn't really depend on whether the test is well-known, it depends on whether it is specific, just as your Cambridge reference says. The fact that it is well-known, however, does mean that you can leave off the word "test," because many people will recognize that "the IELTS" is a test.

So you could say:

I'm preparing for the IELTS. (a specific test)

I'm preparing for the IELTS speaking test. (specifying a segment of a specific testing system)

The test does not need to be well-known:

I'm preparing for the TSQIT teapot-identification test. (a specific test that most people have not heard of)

If you're not specifying a specific test, you would use the indefinite article:

I'm preparing for an English comprehension test. (one test that is not specifically identified)

However, if you were talking to a classmate who was taking the same test as you, then you and she would both already know about that specific test and you could use the definite article even if the sentence did not use the proper name of the test:

I'm preparing for the English comprehension test. (the test that you and I already know about)

  • Thank you. Would you please take a look at the discussion about for IELTS speaking, without "the", without "test"?
    – PutBere
    Jun 19, 2020 at 8:11

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