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9 English Expressions in Context: Ace, Cram, Flunk, Killer, Pull an All-Nighter, Slack Off

Situation: Two friends are talking about their English classes and studying for tests.

Su Rin: How is your English class this semester?

Min Hee: Great! We talk a lot in English. I think I’m going to ace the final exam.

Su Rin: Really? My class is killer. The professor never stops talking, and we have pop quizzes every class. I’m so tired of pulling all-nighters. I’m afraid I’m going to flunk.

Min Hee: Hang in there. Don’t slack off now. The end is in sight!

Su Rin: True. One more night of cramming, and then I take my final test. I just hope I don’t oversleep. Our professor won’t let us make up the final if we miss it.

Min Hee: Yeah, oversleeping and missing a test can really hurt your grade on the curve. Don’t stay up too late. Getting enough sleep is just as important as studying.

Clock at Night

Vocabulary Definitions in Context

Note: In other situations, some of these words have a different meaning.

ace/ace a test (v.) = to do extremely well, to earn a high grade, to get an A

cram (v.)                  = to study a lot in a short period of time right before a test

flunk (v.)                  = to fail a test or a class

killer (adj.)               = extremely difficult

make up (n./v.)       = second chance to do an assignment or take a test/quiz

pop quiz (n.)            = surprise test

pull an all-nighter   = stay awake all night, usually to study

slack off (v.)            = become less active and do something with less effort or energy than before

the curve (n.)           = a system in which grades are based on performance relative to other students

Test your knowledge: Fill in the blanks.

Context clues will help you! Think about the situation to determine which word is missing from each sentence.

flunkacedmake-uppop quiz
pull an all-nighterslack offcrammingkiller
1. I forgot we had a test. I didn’t study. I think I’m going to ___________ this test.
2. With the curve, only 4 students can get As. If you _______________ now, you might not get an A.
3. That was a ___________ test. It was the hardest test I have ever taken.
4. He doesn’t speak English well, but he worked hard all semester.  I heard he ________ the class!
5. ​The professor gave a _______________ today. If I had known, I would not have been absent.
6. The professor agreed to let me ______________ the quiz I missed the day I was absent.
7. I have to _______________________ to study for my English test.
8. I didn’t sleep at all last night because I was ________________ for finals.

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the answers.


Questions for Discussion

  1. What advice would you give to someone who flunked a test?
  2. When was the last time you took a killer test?
  3. What’s the best way to ace a class?
  4. What are the advantages of pop quizzes?
  5. What are the disadvantages of cramming?
  6. Should teachers give make-up tests? Why or why not?
  7. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the curve?
  8. What are the qualities of a good student?
  9. What are the qualities of a good teacher?
  10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of tests?

Answer Key

​1. flunk
2. slack off
3. killer
4. aced
5. pop quiz
6. make up
7. pull an all-nighter
8. cramming​

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