Between writing an exam and taking an exam

Exam’ is a very common word.  Yet, it can be tricky to handle. Firstly, consider the way many pronounce it, which is pervasively weak. Did you too know that there is no X (/ks/) or S (/s/) in the pronunciation of ‘exam’ although the letter X is conspicuously in the spelling?

Many say eXam or ekSam –  which is a deficient way of saying it. The reason is that, instead of X and S, there are G and Z in the pronunciation of the word. The correct articulation is thus more of IGZam than eXAm. Check  and practise the appropriate pronunciation in the dictionary.

Mr candidate, you don’t write a test

In terms of grammar, ‘write’ does not collocate with ‘exam’, in a situation someone is part of an examination or a test as a candidate. Often, guys say I want to write an exam; I want to write JAMB; I wrote NECO last year; He is currently writing ICAN etc.

This usage is erroneous because it is not the duty of the candidate/student to write an exam or a test. After all, he is not the one setting the questions for himself. So, what does he do? The candidate takes an exam or they sit it:

Professor Oloyede said over a million candidates wrote the UTME last year. (Wrong)

Professor Oloyede said over a million candidates took the UTME last year. (Correct)

Professor Oloyede said over a million candidates sat the UTME last year. (Correct)

Writing an exam

There is, however, a situation one can or does write an exam: if the person is the teacher or examiner. The examiner writes the exam (the exam questions), with the invigilator, supervisor etc. also usually playing a role:

“The principal wants to know if I have written my exam,” the Chemistry teacher said. (Correct)

I write my exam early every term because I am often busy towards the end of it. (Correct)

I will not be around next week. So, Dr Olubode will help me conduct the Economics exam.

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