5

When teaching, and preparing exams for our students, we have 4 related terms:

  1. The "printed sheets" that we give to them at the beginning of the exam, that contain the questions. In French it's called "Sujet d'examen" ou "L'énoncé". What is it called in English?

    Example of sentences about it:

    • (To colleague) "Have you printed the ___ for next week yet? We need 200 copies of it."

    • (To students) "We have uploaded on internet the ___ of last year's exam, so that you can practice". (specifically: only the ~sujet~, not the answers)

  2. What's the name of the papers that student write during an exam and that they have to give to the teacher at the end? (In French: Les "copies")

    Example:

    • (To students) "Time's up. Please stop writing and bring your ___ to either Mr. XYZ or Ms. ABC".

    • (To collegue): "What do you have in this very heavy bag? Is it the ~sujet d'examen~ or already the students' ~copies~?"

  3. After doing an exam, we (teachers) prepare a document for our students containing the questions + the answers, so that they can practice at home and know their mistakes after an exam. It's called "La correction de l'examen" / "Le corrigé de l'examen" in French. What is it called in English?

    Example:

    • (To students) "We have uploaded the ___ as a PDF file on this website, please make sure you read it before next exam"
  4. What's the name of the grading scheme we use for a specific exam?

    Example: Exercise 1 question 1: 2 points, question 2: 3 points. Exercise 2 question 1: 2 points, question 2: 2.5 points, question 3: 5 points.

    In French it's called "Le barème". Example:

    • (Student to teacher) "What will be the ___ of the exam?"
      (Teacher) "I don't know yet, but I can say that exercise 2 will have 3 points"

To give an example, here is how the files would be named:

Exam2018_Integrales\1sujetexamen.pdf
Exam2018_Integrales\2scan_copies_étudiants.pdf
Exam2018_Integrales\3corrigé.pdf
Exam2018_Integrales\4barême.pdf

What would be the equivalent in English?

  • 1
    "What is it called" not "How is it called". I have corrected this. – David May 24 '18 at 19:20
  • Are you solely asking for the file naming scheme? Or because you'll be calling them these names with your students? – scohe001 May 24 '18 at 21:03
  • @scohe001 Just for my personal culture (and also because some foreign students don't speak French and so I can communicate in English every now and then) – Basj May 25 '18 at 10:10
3

The corresponding version of these vocabulary items in American schools (for technical subjects) is:

  • "Sujet d'examen" ou "L'énoncé". - the exam

  • Les "copies" - the exam

  • "La correction de l'examen" / "Le corrigé de l'examen" - the answers, answer scheme, or answer key, or a practice exam with answers (depends on the use).

  • "Le barème" - the grading scheme, or rubric

The latter two, "La correction" and "Le barème" may very well be the same object though as they are often presented together, both for the students right after the exam or next year, or for the graders grading the exam (who may not be the ones who constructed the exam).

Some of the difficulty in translating directly is cultural. A 'rubric' tells the student how many points each question has and how much for partial credit for correct nuances of the answer, and this may also be used by the graders.


For an explanation:

  • For the "printed sheets", in French "Sujet d'examen" ou "L'énoncé".

the exam

"Have you printed the the exam for next week yet? We need 200 copies of it."

"We have uploaded on internet the questions from last year's exam, so that you can practice"


  • the papers that student write during an exam and that they have to give to the teacher at the end? (In French: Les "copies")

the exams, the completed/finished exams, the completed answer sheets

"Time's up. Please stop writing and bring your completed exams to either Mr. XYZ or Ms. ABC".

(To colleague): "What do you have in this very heavy bag? Is it before or after" or "Have the students taken the exam yet?"


  • the questions + the answers, so that they can practice at home and know their mistakes after an exam. It's called "La correction de l'examen" / "Le corrigé de l'examen" in French.

the answers, answer scheme, or answer key

to know their mistakes soon after an exam is taken or for the team of graduate students who will be grading the hundreds of completed exams.

a practice exam with answers

if it is for the next class.

A practice exam is the set of questions from previous exams, and may or may not come with the answers.

"We have uploaded the practice exam as a PDF file on this website, please make sure you'll read it before next exam"


  • the grading scheme we use for a specific exam, "Le barème"

the answers with points per answer, answer sheet, answer template, or rubric

(this latter word can be used in other ways), should all have the points for each question, and how many points partially correct answers should receive.

"What will be the ___ of the exam?" is not a question ever asked. "How many points was question 7?" is. You may be thinking "How much of the exam will each topic be worth?" with an expected answer "25% multiple choice (25 qns, 1 pt each), 30% short answer (6 qns 5pts each, 45% one essay"


A lot of this answer really say that 'exam' or 'test' or 'answers' is what you call all of these things, and simply qualify that. They are not set phrases 'completed exam' is still the 'exam', just that it happens to be be those that have been written on by students with answers, it's not a special object like it seems to be in French.

  • 2
    I have always used "the answer sheet" to refer to the third item. Not what is filled out by the students but was is handed out to students after the exam to show them the correct answers. Sometimes, it's referred to as the "answer key." It's also what the teacher refers to while grading. I'm surprised that you listed it in the second example—and not in the third. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 24 '18 at 14:27
  • Also, I frequently have asked what the grading scheme of an exam is. And teachers have volunteered it too . . . This all happens before the exam is taken so you know what to focus on. (The grading scheme is not the same thing as the answers. It says how much everything is worth, not what the answers are.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica May 24 '18 at 14:29
  • Just a small question: "a practice exam" if it is for the next class. What is the name in the case "if it is for those who just took the exam or is intended for the team of graduate students who will be grading the hundreds of completed exams"? You probably wanted to write it in the answer but you didn't include it. Thanks in advance @Mitch! – Basj May 24 '18 at 18:52
  • @Basj The thing to be used by the graders is just 'the answers' or as Jason mentioned, the 'answer key' (which can also be considered the 'rubric' because it'll include both nuances on the answers and how to score them.) – Mitch May 24 '18 at 19:47
8

There is no standardized terminology in this area. Here are some of the terms that may be used for these purposes.

1

exam(s) (if the context makes makes it clear that 1 rather than 2 is intended)

exam questions or questions for the exam or the question sheet (this is O.K. to use even if the ‘questions’ do not have the grammatical form of questions)

prompt(s) (this started out as a term that educators used only among themselves, as a part of their jargon, but has recently, in the U.S., been percolating into their interactions with students)

2

exams (if the context makes makes it clear that 2 rather than 1 is intended)

exam scripts (chiefly in British English)

bluebooks (the U.S. term for the booklets specially designed for writing essay-type exams, which have traditionally had blue covers; the term can be used for both blank and filled-in booklets of this kind, and it can be used even if their covers are not actually blue)

papers (in British English; this term can, of course, be used only if the context makes it clear that this sense of papers is intended)

3

answer key or correct answers (usually used if the questions call for short, straightforward answers)

model answers (usually used for essay-type exams)

4

grading criteria or marking criteria or scoring criteria

grading scheme or marking scheme or scoring scheme

rubric (usually used when the grading is supposed to combine several distinct criteria, which cannot be applied in a straightforward, mechanical way)

In any of the above phrases containing the word exam, it can be replaced with examination, if one is striving after a higher level of formality.

  • Was about to post an answer for "blue book" when I saw this. Might be worth adding the OED definition for credibility: "Chiefly U.S. A blank booklet with blue covers used by students for writing answers to examination questions." – scohe001 May 24 '18 at 20:58
6

The existing answers don't entirely line up with my experiences in American English, though it may simply be more regional or contextual than I've seen.

The paper containing questions for an exam would most likely be called simply the exam, though "exam sheet" would be understandable, and when answers are made on separate paper (which isn't always the case) then question sheet(s) is an option for disambiguation.

The paper used to write answers to an exam would be called the answer sheet(s).

A document available after the exam containing correct answers, which students can use to check how well they did, would be called the answer key. This is likely also used while grading the exam.

A document explaining how points are distributed on an assignment (exam or otherwise) is a rubric. It would be rare to see a separate rubric stating only that "question X is worth Y points", usually a rubric is only made for grading essays and projects in order more objectively assign scores. Instead, the points for a given question will be listed on the question sheet next to each question.

  • Thank you very much. Could you add a few example sentences with these words to see how to use them in context (e.g. rubric that I didn't know) – Basj May 24 '18 at 20:14
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Depends on the setting. Typical options are:

  1. exam papers, or just papers
  2. essay, or answer book
  3. feedback (I don't know of a more specific word)
  4. mark scheme

These are the terms we used when I worked as a lecturer at a UK university.

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