As the heading suggests, I'm wondering what you call the kind of exam (at the university) where all the students on a certain course gather at a specific date and time in a large room or hall and each write an exam paper for a few hours, under supervision of invigilators. The most reasonable name I can come up with is "room exam", and I do get quite a few hits for that when I google it, but I'm still not sure that that's the word for it.

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    I don't believe there's a specific word for it beyond 'exam[ination]', although any given institution may have a word or phrase for them, informally. When I was at university, in my first year ('Freshman' in US parlance), they were called "F-Tests" for several overlapping reasons to do with the culture of the institution. Feb 28, 2023 at 20:16
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    I would consider it odd; it's not a phrase I ever recall hearing. However, I don't rule out the possibility that an institution I'm not acquainted with might call it that, or a "hall exam" (large rooms like that are often "lecture halls"), or some other similar phrase. In general, I'd say "just call it an exam[ination], and don't worry about being more specific unless it's explicitly necessary". Feb 28, 2023 at 20:26
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    This may be a very culturally specific term. The very word invigilator seems to be almost exclusively Indian English.
    – stangdon
    Feb 28, 2023 at 20:57
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    @stangdon I think not. When I was at school in the late 1950 and early 1960s at a South London boys grammar school, the master overseeing the O and A Level (as they were called in those days) was called an invigilator. My mother and two aunts were all teachers and they too were familiar with the term,. Feb 28, 2023 at 21:35
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    @JamesK I could be wrong, but I thought that proctor was also the title of some senior staff member on some university campuses. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proctor Mar 1, 2023 at 1:01

1 Answer 1


This is the default form of examination. So without qualification, an "examination" will be assumed to be "sitting in a room answering questions in writing". Other forms of examination or testing (oral, practical, online, presentation) need specific names or qualifiers.

Joe's last exam for is on Friday, after that he just has to submit his dissertation and he will have finished.

"Room exam" does not make sense, that would a test of the room, I suppose.

If you need to emphasise you may use "written exam(ination)"

Your final grade will be made up of your coursework (25%), a presentation made to the class (15%) and a written exam (60%). In the written exam, you will be required to write two essays of no more than 1500 words each.

  • Thank you! I had no idea! In my language, the word for "exam(ination)" is used for all kinds of exam, and then you have to qualify each of them, to set them apart, so to my ears it sounds extremely odd saying something like "At the end of the course, there will be an exam", since... well – duh, of course there will. And whereas using "a written exam" would be less odd, it'd still be insufficient, since (again: to me) that could refer to any kind of written examining assignment. Funny how our native languages influence the way we think about and understand other languages!
    – Mooshi
    Feb 28, 2023 at 21:42
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    Many courses don't end in examinations. If you, for example, take a course in pottery at a local college, you won't sit an examination at the end - indeed there will probably be no formal assessment, as the course doesn't lead to any accredited qualification. A writing task like a thesis isn't an examination, even if it is a required element of the qualification.
    – James K
    Feb 28, 2023 at 23:06
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    Covid has shaken up the idea of "default" a bit, so you might see an exam specified as an "in-person exam" if you are meant to be in an exam room instead of remote. Even before covid, I saw this phrase used if there was a need to differentiate it from a "take-home exam". Mar 1, 2023 at 15:45
  • @JamesK Wow, I learn so much from you – I had no idea a thesis wouldn't be considered an exam! Again, funny what impact our native languages have!
    – Mooshi
    Mar 1, 2023 at 19:04
  • @CanadianYankee Oh – I like that one: "in-person exam"! I'll remember that – thanks!
    – Mooshi
    Mar 1, 2023 at 19:05

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