Meaning of TEST in English

I. test 1 S1 W1 /test/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: 'pot for testing metals' , from Latin testum 'clay pot' ]

1 . EXAM a set of questions, exercises, or practical activities to measure someone’s skill, ability, or knowledge

test on

We have a test on irregular verbs tomorrow.

Did you get a good mark in the test ?

► You take or do a test. Do not say ‘make a test’. To pass a test means to succeed in it, not simply to take it.


a) a medical examination on a part of your body, or a substance taken from your body, to check your health or to discover what is wrong with you:

The doctor said I needed to have a blood test.

an eye test

a hearing test

I’m still waiting for my test results from the hospital.

do/run a test

They don’t know what’s wrong with her yet – they’re doing tests.

a test is positive/negative (=it shows that someone has/does not have a condition, a substance in their blood etc)

The tests were negative and the doctor said that she was in perfect health.

test for

a test for HIV

b) an examination of someone’s blood, breath etc carried out by the police, to discover if they have done something illegal:

a drugs test

The results of the DNA test proved that Simmons was the rapist.

breath test (=to find out if someone has been drinking alcohol before driving a car)

c) a piece of equipment used for carrying out a medical examination:

a pregnancy test

3 . MACHINE/PRODUCT a process used to discover whether equipment or a product works correctly, or to discover more about it:

nuclear weapons tests

test for

a test for chemicals in the water

Laboratory tests show that the new drug is very effective.

We went to the test site in Nevada.

4 . DIFFICULT SITUATION a difficult situation in which the qualities of someone or something are clearly shown:

Chess player Nigel Short faces Anatoly Karpov in the toughest test of his career so far.

test of character/strength/courage/endurance etc

The problems she faced were a real test of character.

5 . put somebody/something to the test to force someone or something into a difficult situation in order to discover what the limits of their strength, skills etc are:

Living together will soon put their relationship to the test.

Paul soon found himself in an emergency situation that put all his training to the test.

6 . SPORT British English a ↑ test match

⇨ ↑ smear test , ↑ means test , ⇨ stand the test of time at ↑ stand 1 (8), ⇨ the acid test at ↑ acid 2 (3)

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 1)

■ verbs

▪ take a test ( also do/sit a test British English )

All candidates have to take a test.

▪ pass a test (=succeed in it)

She passed her driving test first time.

▪ fail a test ( also flunk a test American English informal )

He failed the test and had to take it again.

▪ do well/badly in a test British English , do well/badly on a test American English

I didn’t do very well in the first part of the test.

▪ give somebody a test

The students were given a reading test.

▪ grade a test ( also mark a test British English )

I spent the day marking tests.


▪ a biology/history etc test

On Monday we had a French test.

▪ a spelling/reading/listening test

I didn’t do very well in the listening test.

▪ a driving test

A driving test can be a nerve-racking experience.

▪ a written test

Selection was based on written tests in English and mathematics.

▪ a multiple choice test (=in which each question has a list of answers to choose from)

There is some debate about whether multiple-choice tests are a good way of assessing student’s knowledge.

▪ an aptitude test (=a test that measures your natural abilities)

▪ an oral test

The oral test will consist of a conversation of about 10 minutes in German.

■ test + NOUN

▪ a test paper

The teacher began handing out the test papers.

▪ a test result/score

The test results are out on Friday.

▪ a test question

Some of the test questions were really difficult.


► Do not say ' make a test '. Say take a test or do a test .

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meanings 2 & 3)

■ verbs

▪ do/carry out a test ( also perform/conduct a test formal )

Your doctor will need to carry out some tests.

▪ have a test ( also undergo a test formal ) (=be tested)

She had to have a blood test.

▪ go for a test

I’m going for an eye test next week.


▪ positive (=showing that someone has a condition)

My first pregnancy test was positive.

▪ negative (=showing that someone does not have a condition)

All the tests came back negative.

▪ a blood test

A blood test revealed his alcohol level was above the legal limit.

▪ an eye test/a sight test

All children starting school are given a sight test.

▪ a hearing test

I went for a hearing test last week.

▪ a fitness test

Walcott will have a fitness test this morning to decide whether he can play.

▪ a pregnancy test (=to find out if someone is pregnant)

▪ a drug test (=to find out if someone has taken drugs)

Two athletes were banned from competing after failing drug tests.

▪ a breath test (=to find out if someone has drunk alcohol)

Some people think the police should be able to carry out random breath tests.

▪ laboratory tests

Independent laboratory tests have confirmed that the product works very successfully.

▪ a simple test

Your doctor can give you a simple blood test to check for anaemia.

■ test + NOUN

▪ test results

The test results showed that she had meningitis.

▪ a test site (=a place where something can be tested)

A nuclear device was detonated at the Trinity test site in New Mexico, on July 16, 1945.

• • •


▪ test a set of questions or practical activities, which are intended to find out how much someone knows about a subject or skill:

I have a chemistry test tomorrow.


Did Lauren pass her driving test?

▪ exam ( also examination formal ) an important test that you do at the end of a course of study or class or at the end of the school year:

He’s upstairs, revising for an exam.


When do you get your exam results?


There’s a written examination at the end of the course.

▪ quiz American English a quick test that a teacher gives to a class, usually to check that students are learning the things they should be learning:

We have a math quiz every Monday.


a pop quiz (=a quiz given by a teacher without any warning)

▪ finals British English the last exams that you take at the end of a British university course:

During my finals I was revising till 3 o'clock in the morning most days.

▪ final American English an important test that you take at the end of a particular class in high school or college:

The English final was pretty hard.

▪ midterm American English an important test that you take in the middle of a term, covering what you have learned in a particular class in high school or college:

He did badly in the midterm.

▪ oral exam ( also oral British English ) an exam in which you answer questions by speaking, instead of writing, for example to test how good you are at speaking a foreign language:

Nicky got an A in her Spanish oral.


You can either take an oral exam or do a 25 page essay.

▪ practical British English an exam that tests your ability to do or make things, rather than your ability to write about them:

The chemistry practical is on Monday.

▪ mocks/mock exams British English informal tests that you take as practice before the official examinations:

She did well in the mocks.

▪ paper British English a set of printed questions used as an examination in a particular subject, or the answers people write:

The history paper was really difficult.


The papers are marked by the other teachers.

II. test 2 S3 W2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]


to examine someone’s blood, body etc in order to find out what is wrong with them, or to see if they have taken an illegal drug:

I must have my eyes tested.

test somebody for something

They tested her for diabetes.

test positive/negative (for something)

Athletes who test positive for steroids are immediately banned.

2 . SUBSTANCE to examine a substance or thing in order to find out its qualities or what it contains

test (something) for something

The water should be tested for lead.

3 . KNOWLEDGE/ABILITY to ask someone spoken or written questions, or make them do a practical activity, to discover what they know about a subject:

This task is designed to test your reading skills

test somebody on something

We’re being tested on grammar tomorrow.

4 . MACHINE/PRODUCT ( also test out ) to use something for a short time to see if it works in the correct way:

The Ferrari team wanted to test their new car out on the racetrack.

test something on somebody/something

None of this range of cosmetics has been tested on animals.

5 . SHOW HOW GOOD/STRONG to show how good or strong someone or something is, especially by putting them in a difficult situation:

a game that will test the contestants’ strength and skill

The next six months will test your powers of leadership.

I felt that she was testing me, leaving all that cash lying around.

⇨ ↑ testing

6 . IDEA/PLAN ( also test out ) to start to use an idea or plan to find out if it is correct or effective:

Dr Lee set up a series of experiments to test out this hypothesis.

test something against something

The theory was then tested against the results of the study.

7 . test the water/waters to check people’s reaction to a plan before you decide to use it:

The government is clearly testing the water, to gauge the country’s reactions to their proposals.

⇨ tried and tested at ↑ tried 2

• • •


▪ check to look at something carefully and thoroughly in order to make sure that it is correct, safe, or working properly:

I’ll just check the water level in the battery.


The immigration officer checked their passports.


We need to check the building for structural damage.

▪ examine to look at something carefully and thoroughly because you want to find out something about it:

Experts who examined the painting believe it is genuine.


The police will examine the weapon for fingerprints.

▪ inspect to look at something carefully and thoroughly in order to make sure that it is correct, safe, or working properly, especially when it is your job to do this:

The building is regularly inspected by a fire-safety officer.


Some insurance people have already been here to inspect the damage caused by the storm.

▪ go through something to examine something such as a document or plan from beginning to end, especially in order to check that it is correct:

You should go through the contract before you sign.


I’ve finished my essay, but I just need to go through it to check for spelling mistakes.

▪ double-check to check something again so that you are completely sure it is correct, safe, or working properly:

I double-checked all my calculations and they seemed fine.


Travellers should double-check flight information before setting off today.

▪ test to examine or use something in order to find out whether it works or what its qualities are, or in order to check that it is satisfactory:

Test your brakes to check they are working correctly.


These products have not been tested on animals.

▪ monitor to carefully watch or keep checking someone or something in order to see what happens over a period of time:

Doctors monitored her progress during the night.


Observers have been monitoring the situation in Burma closely.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.