Speak in English about exams – Part 1

These days exams are a perpetual part of our lives. From school to college to certifications to skill upgrades exams are everywhere. So to speak in English about exams is an important thing to learn.

Quiz – Test your vocabulary

You can get help from the vocabulary words and phrases listed below in this lesson.

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Vocabulary to speak in English about exams

Get on top of something/ Get to grips with something

Meaning:  Manage to control or deal with something.

Usage:  If you realise a situation will get on top of you, prepare yourself to handle it.

As much as I try to patch up with my neighbour, I just can’t get to grips with her.

Get into the habit of doing something.

Meaning:  Develop a particular habit.

Usage: If you wish to learn a musical instrument get into the habit of playing different tunes or songs on it.

Go through something/ Go over something.

Meaning:  Look at or study the notes, paper etc.

Usage: My Sanskrit teacher might announce a surprise test next week. I had better go through all the notes I made during her lectures.

Get bogged down.

Meaning:  Become so involved with the details of something that you can’t make any progress.

Usage: There is a lot to life. The learning you get out of your experiences can be enriching, only if you don’t get bogged down during testing times.

Work something out.

Meaning:  Solve a problem by considering the facts.

Usage:  Mathematics can be tricky, so try and work out a simple problem first and then move to tougher ones.

Come up.

Meaning:  If a question, number, name etc comes up, it is selected and appears somewhere ( in this case, an exam paper).

Usage:  If you understand the concept well, you will be prepared even if a question from outside your textbook comes up.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Meaning:  Hope for good luck or success

Usage:  I did well in the competition but the results depend on the judges decision, so I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed.

It's not the end of the world.

Meaning:  It’s not the worst thing that can happen.

Usage:  It is about time you learn to be sportive. Winning and losing is a part of the game. It is not the end of the world.

Get down to something

Meaning:  Begin to do something and give serious attention to it.

Usage:  At first I thought the assignment was easy and could be done in a day. Later on, I realised that a lot of data had to be collected and therefore I got down to doing it.

Do your best/ Try your best/ Do something to the best of your ability

Meaning:  You try as hard as possible to achieve it.

Usage:  Have you heard of the proverb, ‘Do your best in all you can and leave the rest to God”? So just try your best, success will be yours.

Stay up.

Meaning:  Go to bed later than usual.

Usage:  If you revise your lessons on a daily basis, you won’t have to stay up late at night during exams.

Steer/stay clear of something.

Meaning:  To care to avoid something/someone.

Usage:  The road ahead is usually full of street dogs at this hour. It’s better to steer clear of it.

Keep/ Have one eye on something.

Meaning:  Look at or watch something while doing something else.

Usage:  Kindergarten teachers have one eye on the kids no matter how busy they are.

Run out of something.

Meaning:  Use all of something and have no more left.

Usage:  Most shops run out of milk in the festival season.

Stick/keep to something.

Meaning:  Talk or write about one particular thing only.

Usage:  Here is a very useful tip to remember during an exam. Stick to the point while attempting a question. If you divert from the question you lose time and don’t gain marks for writing in excess.

Get stuck on something

Meaning:  Not be able to continue with something because it is too hard.

Usage:  Another important tip to keep in mind during an exam is to not get stuck on a question  for too long. If you don’t know the answer move to the next question.

Miss something out.

Meaning:  Not include something or fail to include something.

Usage:  When you look at the larger picture you tend to miss out on the finer details.

Go blank.

Meaning:  Inability to recollect something.

Usage:  When you try to remember too many things, the mind occasionally goes blank.

Breathe in.

Meaning:  Take air into your lungs. The opposite of breathe out.

Usage:  The yoga teaches you how to breathe in and breathe out, in the correct manner.

Read through something.

Meaning:  Read something to check details and look for mistakes.

Usage:  A good practice to follow during an exam is to read through the answers once again before submitting your answer booklet.

Make sense.

Meaning:  Have a clear meaning, be logical and easy to understand.

Usage:  When you send out a written communication, make sure what you’ve written makes sense to the reader.

The best of luck.

Meaning:  To wish someone luck

Usage:  It was the last day of school before the Board exams and the teacher shared some tips on how to face the exams without any fear and wished all her students the best of luck.

Speaking activity

More English vocabulary