Difference Between Exam and Test

Exam vs Test

The difference between exam and test is mostly in the usage of the terms. Test and exam are most of the times used as synonyms. That is not completely wrong as in the field of education test is a series of questions that measures the knowledge of the student on a particular lesson. Exam is a more formal form of test that measures the knowledge of a student on a number of lessons. As you can see, in the educational field, both are inspecting the knowledge of the student. However, depending on the seriousness or the formality of this examination you have to use the two words appropriately. The two terms are used frequently in other fields such as medical field too. Let us try to understand more about each term and the implied difference between both.

What does Test mean?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary test means ‘a series of questions, problems, or physical responses designed to determine knowledge, intelligence, or ability.’

A test, as we discussed earlier, is a short exam that a teacher gives to his or her students at the end of a lesson. A teacher gives this test in order to understand how much of what he or she has taught has gone into the students’ minds. A test is not very formal. Usually, this is held at the class level. A teacher usually takes a period of his or her teaching time to conduct this sort of test. The students have to answer some questions that evaluate the level of each student’s understanding of the lesson. This can be a written test or an oral test.

Other than in the field of education, the word test is also used in other field such as the field of medicine. For example, when you give your blood to a lab to check if everything is alright in your body by examining the blood, that procedure is called a blood test. Also, when you want to check your eyesight, the procedure involved is known as an eye test. Then, if you remember the procedure you had to follow when obtaining your driving license, there was a driving test involved. That test checked how much you could perform the activity of driving. So, a test can also be a test of actions.

Difference Between Exam and Test

What does Exam mean?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, exam means ‘an examination; a test.’ So, the word exam simply means test. It is the short form of the word examination. However, when you use the word exam you are referring to a very formal test. In the educational level, it is a test that tests your knowledge on a number of lessons. Usually, these types of exams are held at the end of a semester or a term. They are always written exams. Some exams have practical parts attached to them as well. In an exam, there is a specific place where you have to sit and do the exam. You are given an exact time to answer a question paper. Once the time runs out, the paper is collected by the examiners. These types of tests are the ones that affect your grade in the school or the university the most.

This word exam is mostly used in the written English language. Of course, there are times when you use it when talking too. However, you will see that most people use the word test to refer to an exam when they are talking.

Exam vs Test

What is the difference between Exam and Test?

• Meaning:

• Test refers to a procedure where your knowledge is tested about a lesson.

• Exam refers to a procedure where your knowledge about a number of lessons is tested.

• Nature:

• Tests are less formal in nature.

• Exams are more formal in nature.

• Long Form:

• Test is the complete word.

• Exam is the short form of the word examination.

• Uses in other fields:

• Test is a world that is used also in fields such as medicine other than the educational field.

• Exam is usually used in the educational field.

• Form:

• Test can be a written, oral or practical test in form.

• Exam is usually written. Some written exams have a practical test attached to it too.

As you can see, in the field of education, both exam and test refers to the activity that is given to you by your teacher to test your knowledge. With each word the formality changes. Test is used in more fields that the field of education.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Blood test by GrahamColm (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Students taking a final exam at the University of Vienna via Wikicommons (Public Domain)