Below is what is causing me a lot of confusion.

Say, I did a test, and will have to redo it if I get below a certain mark, and I want to pose a question asking what mark it is (Or there might be other reasons that I need to redo the test) Can I say:

  • Under what circumstances/In what situation will I have to resit the test?

However, it is kind of weird and ambiguous if I rearrange the sentence a little, like this;

  • What circumstances will I have to do the test under?
  • I will have to do the test under what circumstances?

It feels like the meaning completely changed from HOW BAD MY MARK HAVE TO BE, to asking THE SET OF CONDITIONS I HAVE TO DO THE TEST IN.

I have looked up some 'under what circumstances' clauses, but all of them seem to be perfectly logical even when rearranged. E.g. Under what circumstances is cheating a crime.

Is the wording of my question awkward/ambiguous? If so how can I make it better? Or is the question perfectly fine under I rearranged it?

Many thanks

  • 2
    Say "Under what circumstances will I have to resit the test?" The others are not idiomatic, and "What circumstances will I have to do the test under?" sounds too much like "What conditions will I have to do the test under?", to which the answer might be "No talking or communication, no mobile phones." Aug 1, 2016 at 13:34
  • Juncinator, nice question! Have you done anything to research this yourself? If you have can you briefly mention what you have done at the bottom of your question. english.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask it will help attract better qualitiy responses, it needn't be very long, just a brief statement about what you have done to research this already and what sources you used (if any)
    – Gary
    Aug 1, 2016 at 13:39
  • What @Max said. Because the alternatives are "non-idiomatic", we naturally tend to look for a possible alternative meaning (why else would you use unusual phrasing?). The obvious alternative sense is How will the resit be conducted? (which automatically carries the implication that we know the test will be retaken). Aug 1, 2016 at 13:45
  • 2
    Just adding a little to @Gary's comment, which may be useful if you have more questions: the primary expectation regarding research is to use the site's search bar found in the top right corner of the page (not necessarily google searches), plus dictionaries. This is because Stack Exchange is intended to be a repository of expert answers. You may well find what you're looking for in the repository already.
    – Lawrence
    Aug 1, 2016 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


Why say resit ? Can't one take the test standing ?

I shall say as below :

Kindly state the circumstances under which I may have to take the test again ?

  • 1
    "resit" is a perfectly normal way to say "take an examination again", there's no need to take issue with that choice of word. Aug 1, 2016 at 14:01
  • I agree with @MaxWilliams. "Resitting" an exam is a British-English version of American-English "retaking an exam." Aug 1, 2016 at 14:56

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