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Thread: mug up and cram

  1. #1
    dilodi83 is offline Senior Member
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    Default mug up and cram

    Hi everybody.
    When talking about school or university and specifically about memorizing a lot of information before a test or an exam, trying to push them into our brain, I know that in English we can say "to mug up" or "to cram", as in:

    1) I have to cram for my history test.
    2) I have to mug up for my history test.
    3) I have to mug up on history for my test.

    Can these three be good and are they all commonly used? Are there any differences between AE and BE?

    Thank you all.

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    Quote Originally Posted by dilodi83 View Post
    Hi everybody.
    When talking about school or university and specifically about memorizing a lot of information before a test or an exam, trying to push them into our brain, I know that in English we can say "to mug up" or "to cram", as in:

    1) I have to cram for my history test.
    2) I have to mug up for my history test.
    3) I have to mug up on history for my test.

    Can these three be good and are they all commonly used? Are there any differences between AE and BE?

    Thank you all.
    I don't know if they are very common these days, I've only been back in the UK for two and a half years. My eighteen year old daughter and her friend always use "study" but I don't know if that's typical.

  3. #3
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    Quote Originally Posted by dilodi83 View Post
    Hi everybody.
    When talking about school or university and specifically about memorizing a lot of information before a test or an exam, trying to push them into our brain, I know that in English we can say "to mug up" or "to cram", as in:

    1) I have to cram for my history test.
    2) I have to mug up for my history test.
    3) I have to mug up on history for my test.

    Can these three be good and are they all commonly used? Are there any differences between AE and BE?

    Thank you all.
    In AmE we "cram" for a test. After some research I found that "to mug up" is British slang. "to mug up" would probably not be heard in most US schools.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    It might be British slang, but I've never heard "mug up".
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    I would have no idea what "mug up" meant.

    When I was in school, "cram" implied that you have to study very intensely in a short period of time. "Study" is more general. If you have kept up with your material all semester, you shouldn't have to "cram" at the end.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    If you have kept up with your material all semester, you shouldn't have to "cram" at the end.
    Ah, the wisdom of age!
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  7. #7
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    not a teacher

    I've only come across "mug up" in an older British context, Billy Bunter comes to mind. I'm much more familiar with "cram", but I'm not sure that I've ever heard someone say it outside of TV or film. In my experience the most common term is "swot" (sometimes written as "swat").
    I can't go out, I have to swot for the exam tomorrow.
    Of course she got good marks, she's such a swot.
    He's swotting up the road code for his driving test.

  8. #8
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    And the "swot" one would also leave me mystified!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  9. #9
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    Default

    Both mug up and swot seem to me old-fashioned BrE.

  10. #10
    dilodi83 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: mug up and cram

    so which one would you suggest to a person who doesn't speak English as first language? Which one is corrently used to mean to study really hard in a real short time for a test or an exam?

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