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Learn Your Terms: Is a Test Similar to an Exam?

Test vs Examination: Are They the Same?

Test vs examination are two words that are mostly used to refer to evaluation or assessment.

Evaluation is the process of judging one's capabilities by using specific criteria, facts, and evidence. Many people are still confused by these words (test vs examination) and often think they have the same meaning.

A test checks learner progress after a lesson or a few lessons. At the same time, an examination investigates progress after a series of lessons held over some time.

Similarities between Tests and Examinations

These words are often used synonymously, but they are not synonyms.

This confusion comes because they share some similarities. For instance, every learner must take both a test and an examination as a form of assessment.

Assessment is the process of collecting, scoring, and interpreting information to improve.

Both tests and examinations are taken to access the level of knowledge and education of an individual.

Furthermore, they are both used in education facilities such as universities, colleges, and schools. Having known the similarities these words share, let's move on to their differences.

Tests vs Examination: Learn the Differences

To begin with, the major difference between a test vs. examination is that they stand for different types of assessments.

A test is smaller and less significant than an examination. It helps assess how much a student has been able to grasp after a particular subject or chain of lessons.

Contrarily, an examination is considered more valuable. Exams are usually used to test the knowledge acquired, and whether a learner is ready to move on to the next semester or year after a series of lessons and several tests.

Another difference is that a test is used as a noun and a verb in a sentence, while an examination is only used as a noun.

For example, in the sentence

"One can take a test," the word test is used as a noun.

Or in "They can test someone else," the word test is used as a verb.

However, when we say, "One can give or take an examination," we use the word examination as a noun.

Additionally, a test is less official or formal than an exam. It is used to check a learner's progress over a shorter period, for example, after lessons.

An examination, on the other hand, is more formal. It assesses learner progress over a longer period of study, like your end-of-year exams. When it comes to grading, examination grades are generally more subjective than test grades.

A test can take many forms; for example, it can be written, oral, or even practical. On the other hand, many examinations are written. However, some written exams come attached to practical tests.

The Use of tests and Examinations outside Education

The confusion in the use of test vs. examination is not just limited to their use in education; these two words are also a problem in the career world.

Parallel to education, a test is an assessment used to test for something specific for results, for example, blood test, urine test, or DNA test.

Moreover, when you want to check your eyesight, you take a test called the eye test. Whereas, an examination is an assessment for something more comprehensive to ensure that there is nothing wrong with the patient, for example, physical examination.

To understand the difference between a test and examination in the medical field, let's create a scenario whereby you go to the doctor for an annual checkup. The first thing the doctor will do it to give you an "examination."

Secondly, he will do various tests to find out whether you are healthy or not. Those tests include the ones mentioned earlier on such blood tests, reflex tests, eye tests, blood pressure tests, etc. The results obtained from those tests and examination results will help him assess your health.

Another scenario where we use test vs. examination is in driving lessons. The procedure one follows to obtain a driving license is known as a driving test.

The test evaluates how much you can perform when it comes to driving. Once you have attended all your driving classes, you are given an examination to access if you are ready to get a driving license.


Both tests and examinations are used by teachers to asses one's knowledge in a particular subject or unit. But each word has its unique meaning and function, and must never be confused for the other.

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