Everyday English at University

The winter term has only just begun and here we are talking about exams already! Have a look at this list of education-related vocabulary compiled by the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary:


  • acquire/get/lack (an) education/training/(British English) (some) qualifications
  • receive/provide somebody with training/tuition
  • develop/design/plan a curriculum/(especially British English) course/(North American English) program/syllabus
  • give/go to/attend a class/lesson/lecture/seminar
  • hold/run/conduct a class/seminar/workshop
  • sign up for/take a course/classes/lessons


  • go to/start preschool/kindergarten/nursery school
  • be in the first, second, etc. (North American English) grade/(especially British English) year (at school)
  • study/take/drop history/chemistry/German, etc.(British English)
  • leave/finish/drop out of/(North American English) quit school
  • (North American English) graduate high school/college

Problems at school

  • be the victim/target of bullying 
  • (British English) play truant from/(both British English, informal) bunk off/skive off school (= not go to school when you should)
  • (both especially North American English) skip/cut class/school
  • (British English) cheat in/(North American English) cheat on an exam/a test
  • get/be given a detention (for doing something)
  • be expelled from/be suspended from school

Work and exams

  • do your homework/(British English) revision/a project on something
  • work on/write/do/submit an essay/a dissertation/a thesis/an assignment/(North American English) a paper
  • finish/complete your dissertation/thesis/studies/coursework
  • hand in/(North American English) turn in your homework/essay/assignment/paper
  • study/prepare/(British English) revise/(North American English) review/(North American English, informal) cram for a test/an exam
  • take/(both British English) do/sit a test/an exam
  • (especially British English) mark/(especially North American English) grade homework/a test
  • (British English) do well in/(North American English) do well on/(informal, especially North American English) ace a test/an exam
  • pass/fail/(informal, especially North American English) flunk a test/an exam/a class/a course/a subject


  • apply to/get into/go to/start college/(British English) university
  • leave/graduate from law school/college/(British English) university (with a degree in computer science)
  • study for/take/(British English) do/complete a law degree/a degree in physics
  • (both North American English) major/minor in biology/philosophy
  • earn/receive/be awarded/get/have/hold a master’s degree/a bachelor’s degree/a PhD in economics

Usage note: exams

Exam is the usual word for a written, spoken or practical test at school or college, especially an important one that you need to do in order to get a qualification. Examination is a very formal word. A test is something that students might be given in addition to, or sometimes instead of, regular exams, to see how much they have learned. A very short informal test is called a quiz in North American English. Quiz in both North American English and British English also means a contest in which people try to answer questions:a trivia quiz / a quiz show.”

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