I have just come across a video about IELTS, and it reminded me of GCSE. I am wondering whether there are any differences in these two sentences:

I sat for the GCSE in 2005.
I took the GCSE in 2005.

I want to know if there are other better ways of saying it.

1 Answer 1


GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Examination: it's the certificate that you get after you have taken the exam. If you say that you took a GCSE, people might think that you stole somebody else's certificate.

What you take, or sit for, is the exam:

I sat for the GCSE exams in 2005

I took the GCSE exams in 2005

According NGram, to "take an exam" is much more widely used than "sit for an exam" or "sit an exam".

  • 1
    I think "sit for" is more common in England... I very rarely hear people in the US say it.
    – Catija
    Apr 6, 2016 at 19:21
  • 1
    @Catija, It's pretty old fashioned in England too.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 6, 2016 at 19:32
  • 1
    Either is fine, but "I sat for the GCSE" sounds more formal, from my perspective.
    – Inazuma
    Apr 6, 2016 at 22:00
  • Most people I know would say, "I did my GCSEs in 2005." The fact that exams are involved is taken as read.
    – ssav
    Apr 7, 2016 at 9:26
  • @ssav, GCSE is a proper noun: when you use a plural of a proper noun, it's assumed that you are talking about a number of [something else]- for example "Americans" really means "American people". In this case, the [something else] is taken to be exams.
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 7, 2016 at 12:22

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