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I think it is common to say

I did well on the exam in AmE.

I did well in the exam in BrE.

Which prepositions are suitable for the following situations when we mention the exam we took? Regarding that, how are they used differently in American and British English? And do we need to use article the?

I did well on/in/at (the) Math exam.

I did well on/in/at the presentation.

  • ...did well on the exam is certainly more common, but notions of "correctness" here are really just subjective opinions. – FumbleFingers Apr 1 '16 at 18:25
  • @FumbleFingers thanks. Is it "correct" for the Math exam ? – Mrt Apr 1 '16 at 18:30
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    @FumbleFingers Did well on the exam? In Britain? It sounds quite foreign to me. I would have said we always used in the exam. The only exception to that I would suggest would be if it were some kind of oral, or performance exam - e.g a driving test, when you might say I was much better on the test. – WS2 Apr 1 '16 at 23:18
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    @WS2: There's a significant US/UK split here. Like you (and most Brits), I'd normally use in - but it's just idiomatic preference, not a matter of "grammatically correct". – FumbleFingers Apr 2 '16 at 12:32
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    @FumbleFingers Anyone British training to pass themselves off as American, or vice-versa, would have to concentrate very heavily on prepositions. An on or an in could easily betray you, in my estimation. – WS2 Apr 2 '16 at 18:47
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Firstly, may I paraphrase your question(s): "Which preposition is suitable when mentioning an exam I took, how come the preposition is different in American to that of British English, and last but not least, do I need to use the definite article ('the') in either sentence?"

Final question first: Yes, you need 'the' if you want to indicate a specific exam (even in the understood context).

Why American English is different from English English? I would argue that they like to express their differences (and that includes spelling and prepositions). But the logic is the real determiner: If Americans say 'on the weekend' it's most probably because they're in the habit of working on either Saturday or Sunday, so they only really count the weekend as one day. Then, it just stuck (even if some do have two days off.)

Which brings us to AT (one of your options). AT is used for events (on more than one day), places and time. I would not use AT in your example unless you were only (doing something other than sitting the actual exam in that same location and at the time of the exam). Another point is that we are GOOD or BAD at something, in general. But we don't "do well" at something.

As for on or in, I'd personally go for on. After all, there's an expression: to SIT an exam.

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    I'm sorry. We Americans don't use different prepositions to "express our differences". Maybe that's partly why Webster's spelling reform caught on, but we stopped caring about showing that we're different from Brits around 150 years ago. We use different prepositions because that's the way we speak. Why do modern Brits speak differently than Shakespeare did? – Peter Shor Oct 12 '18 at 12:15

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