Helping Learners Understand Spoken English

Study-Related Vocabulary

This lesson teaches 9 school-related vocabulary words that are very common among students when they talk about studying and taking tests.

This vocabulary lesson includes:

Sample Dialogue

Before you look at the meaning of the words, see if you can understand the words in bold based on context (the language that surrounds the word).

If you don’t know how to figure out the meaning of words from context, I recommend Using Context Clues to Figure Out New Words by the Khan Academy. Their video explains strategies for learning new words in context.

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

Sam: How is your English class this semester?

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

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

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

Sam: 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.

Mina: 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

9 Study Related Vocabulary Terms

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.

Click here to check your 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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Recommended Lessons with more Vocabulary Related to Studying

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The lessons below are completely free.

Slang Words about School and Studying: This lesson by Shayna includes sample sentences with audio. You’ll see some of the ones you’ve learned here plus 9 new expressions. There is also a quiz with instant results to test your knowledge.

Speaking English: Expressions for Education: This video lesson by Shayna explains 7 common expressions for talking about education.

Never stop learning!
~ Trey