In France, access to some educational institutions is allowed only after a competitive examination. However, for special achievements, some students may be offered a seat directly, bypassing the examination altogether.

The French idiom is to have been selected “sur dossier” (“on file”). That is, your (implicitly: school) file was convincing enough to exempt you from the examination.

Is there any way to express this in English? If there are disparities between English-speaking countries, please specify them  :)

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    If you want to write about it, why not just use the term sur dossier as it is and explain it in the glossary and/or after first use. – Raku Jan 9 '12 at 16:18
  • @Raku because a résumé doesn't have enough room for a glossary ;) – MattiSG Jan 9 '12 at 18:13
  • Ah, d'accord :-). I would use "admitted on merit, without entrance exam" then – Raku Jan 10 '12 at 8:55

I'm not aware of general terms for this, but for your specific example of being admitted without examination, one could use (informally) admitted sans exam or given a pass (equivalent to receiving a bye, but I think slightly more likely to occur) or admitted on merit or prequalified. In formal justifications one might well find phrases like that which Barrie suggested, e.g., admitted on the basis of academic record, but unless the process is objective and well-documented, the envious might say admitted because he's got pull, knew somebody, had connections, or had an in.

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    “Admitted on merit” sounds like the best short option. “on the basis of academic record” is longer but would need to be explicitly put in the context of a competitive examination, wouldn't it? – MattiSG Jan 9 '12 at 18:20
  • @MattiSG, most suggestions so far (except "sans exam") don't provide any sense of "allowed to skip examination". One could say "Admitted on merit, sans exam" or "Admitted on basis of academic record, sans exam" with nearly equivalent meaning; the former sounds better (and I think is a higher recommendation), the latter is more explicit. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Jan 9 '12 at 18:49

At least in the US, there's no such system. Everyone takes the same entrance exam (SAT or ACT) no matter which schools they apply to. Then they send the schools an admission packet with their transcript and test scores. The schools pick applicants with the best overall records.

To imply someone was hand-picked by a school for outstanding performance, they could have been offered a scholarship. To imply that the school relaxed their exam requirements, they could be a recruited athlete or a legacy admission.

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    Isn't a “scholarship” only a financial aid? – MattiSG Jan 9 '12 at 18:17
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    @MattiSG: Not necessarily. There are merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships. Merit-based scholar ships often include perks (e.g., exclusive study lounge) in addition to the financial support. – Ben Hocking Jan 9 '12 at 19:15

There's no concise way of saying it in English. We would have to say something like on the basis of the candidate's academic record.


At least one university calls it score optional admission:

Score optional review provides an opportunity for applicants to be considered for admission without submitting or in disregard of standardized test scores. Admission remains a highly competitive process, and score optional candidates will each be considered on their own merits.

  • Mmh, that really looks like the closest yet! Though on the “sur dossier” qualification, the demand does not come from the applicant but directly from the institution, at its own discretion. Unfortunately, this does not seem common enough to be used without further explanation, does it? :-S – MattiSG Jan 10 '12 at 8:08

accepted on academic record in lieu of exam. accepted exempt from exam.

The problem with "in lieu of" is conciseness. You need to say something was used in lieu of something else. However, since the concept is not common in English, using academic record in the sentence is more explanatory.


This could be described as "receiving a bye," though I don't know how widely that terminology is understood.

  • Mmh, “This is generally the result of having a number of entrants in the competition that is not a power of two” doesn't make it sound as if it was good, more like “we didn't have any choice”. It is, on the contrary, an exceptional and voluntary thing. – MattiSG Jan 9 '12 at 18:16
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    @MattiSG: If you read the details of that wikipedia page, you'll notice that those who get a 'bye' do so because of a better past record. So it is a perfect analog to what you are seeking, but the connotations of the English word are too strong for it to be use literally, but one could informally use it metaphorically "I got a bye on that scholarship"; it'd be somewhat obscure but it would make sense to those with more sports knowledge (it's not that common a word when used that way). – Mitch Jan 9 '12 at 19:17

In Indian Education System (Higher Education), there is a term, supernumerary seats to loosely refer to the concept you have mentioned.

supernumerary seats are usually on top of the regular intake of a college/university and the percentage of seats offered under this category cannot exceed 15% as per the governing body for education in India. Nonetheless, these seats are not offered to students with special achievements always, but the criterion for availing these seats are different - Foreign students, meritorious students whose parents have an annual income less than a defined amount, children of NRIs (Non resident Indians) etc.

This does not answer your question, since it is a localized term, as I could not figure out if this term is used anywhere else, but still, at least tells you that there is such a term somewhere.

  • Thanks for your answer. As you said, it does not fit the concept, but thanks for pointing at a specific education idiom :) – MattiSG Jan 9 '12 at 18:18
  • Please tell the reason for down-vote if you do. – Incognito Jan 10 '12 at 8:45
  • I did downvote, only because this was too upvoted for an answer that does not really answer the question. It is a nice detail, but I don't believe it should be as well rated as proper answers :-/ – MattiSG Jan 10 '12 at 10:33

Maybe that could fit the same global idea as “A better way to say “enrolled in a program” to signify the difficulty of attaining admission in the face of stiff competition?”. The outcome was the selection of the term “selected”. It does not explain this idea to bypass the examination, but seems to convey the “exceptionality” idea.

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