Should I use the defined article 'the' before the names of examinations?

For example, should it be 'IELTS' or 'the IELTS'? 'SAT' or 'the SAT'?

  • 1
    The exact context makes a difference. Please provide some example sentences where you want to use these abbreviations (of actual exams? examining bodies?). Commented May 18, 2021 at 13:36
  • I agree context is important, but all the cases I can think of offhand use an article and not just the abbreviation: "I'm taking the SAT next weekend." "There's nothing useful in an SAT score by itself." (or "a SAT" depending on how it's pronounced; I've always heard it as the three separate letters, but if you pronounce like the word 'sat', you would use 'a' instead of 'an'.)
    – rcook
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


When talking about the test specifically, I would always use a proceeding "the"

I took the SAT Saturday.

Everybody has to take the LSAT to get into Law School.

When talking about results, it would be more usual to not have "the"

I got my ACT scores back.

The top ACT score is 36.

In the below case, we're talking about the test separately from the scores, so I'd use a "the".

They scored in the 99th percentile for the GMAT. (vs Their GMAT scores were in the 99th percentile)

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