European Baccalaureate
The European Baccalaureate ("Bac") is awarded to students who successfully managed to complete the final year exam at a European School
European School
The European Schools are co-educational schools providing nursery, primary and secondary. They are established to provide free education for children of personnel of the European Institutions and leading to the European Baccalaureate. Other children may be admitted subject to the availability of...

. These are mainly attended by students whose parents work for a European Institution. There are currently 14 European Schools.
This diploma should not be confused with other types of educational qualifications also called Baccalaureate
A baccalaureate is an educational qualification. The term may refer to:*A bachelor's degree*Baccalauréat, France's national secondary-school diploma*Romanian Baccalaureate, Romania's national secondary-school diploma...

. Also, in the German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 the European Baccalaureate is called Europäisches Abitur, not to be confused with the German
Abitur is a designation used in Germany, Finland and Estonia for final exams that pupils take at the end of their secondary education, usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling, see also for Germany Abitur after twelve years.The Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife, often referred to as...


The European Baccalaureate

The European Baccalaureate is taken at the end of the seventh year of secondary education. It is awarded only by the fourteen European Schools. The EB should be distinguished from the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the baccalaureate of various national systems. Details of this examination are set out in the Annex of the Statute of the European School and in the Regulations for the European Baccalaureate, available from the schools.

The European Baccalaureate is administered and directly supervised by an external examining board appointed annually by the Board of Governors. The examining board consists of up to three representatives of each member state, who must satisfy the conditions governing the appointment of equivalent examining boards in their respective countries. It is presided over by a senior university educator appointed by each member state in turn, assisted by a member of the Board of Inspectors of the schools.

Article 5 (2) of the Statute provides that holders of the Baccalaureate shall:
  • enjoy, in the Member State of which they are nationals, all the benefits attaching to the possession of the diploma or certificate awarded at the end of secondary school education in that country; and
  • be entitled to seek admission to any university in the territory of any Member State on the same terms as nationals of that Member State with equivalent qualifications

The Baccalaureate is a two year course and assesses the performance of students in the subjects taught in secondary years 6-7.

The first awards of the European Baccalaureate were made in 1959.

The EB is marked in percentages out of 100, and, in contrast to many national systems (e.g. British A-Levels), comprises compulsory subjects and 3-5 elective subjects. The compulsory studies include mother tongue, 1st foreign language, mathematics, philosophy, one science subject, history (taught in the 1st foreign language), geography (taught in the 1st foreign language), and gym. The choice of elective subjects is large, see the list below, but the subject may not be available if the class size is too small.

Course periods per week Notes
Column 1: Compulsory
Language 1
Language 2
Mathematics 3 or 5
Religion or Ethics
Column 2: Compulsory if not taken in Column 3
Philosophy 2
History 2
Geography 2
Biology 2 if no other Science has been taken.
Column 3: Optional
Geography 4
History 4
Philosophy 4
Language 3 4
Physics 4
Chemistry 4
Biology 4
Art 4
Music 4
Language 4 4 only if studied in the 4th and 5th year
Latin 4 only if studied in the 4th and 5th year
Ancient Greek 4 only if studied in the 4th and 5th year
Economics 4 only if studied in the 4th and 5th year
Column 4: Further Optional
Advanced Language 1 3
Advanced Language 2 3
Advanced Mathematics 3 only with 5-period maths from Column 1
Column 5: Complementary
Laboratory Physics 2
Laboratory Chemistry 2
Laboratory Biology 2
Elementary Economics 2 only if not taken in Column 3
Sociology 2
Art 2 only if not taken in Column 3
Music 2 only if not taken in Column 3
Physical Education 2
Drama 2
Language 5 2

A minimum of 31 periods a week must be taken, with a maximum of 35 periods.
At least 2 Column 3 subjects must be chosen, a maximum of 4 can be taken.

The total mark consists of:
  • 15% coursework from 7th year
  • 25% exams in January
  • 24% Oral exams in June
  • 36% Written exams in June

Consequently, there is a comparatively heavy workload for the students; the system enforces not only a rounded knowledge of all subjects but also allows students to be specialised in one field. Students are obliged to have a strong skills in 1 foreign language ( but in years 3-5 of secondary school a 2nd foreign language is compulsory). The pass-rate is very high (above 90%) due to the practice of 'weeding out' candidates who are not academically strong enough to complete the Baccalaureate.
This process starts from an early age whereby many pupils either leave, are asked to leave or fall foul of the 'three strikes' rule (fail a year 3 times and the student will be asked to leave). Failing the same year twice also means leaving the school. Failing and repeating a year is a common occurrence from age 10 upwards, roughly 5% of pupils will fail in each year.

However, the pluridisciplinarity it offers is advantageous to students wishing to study in France and Germany. Most of the English section students and a significant minority of students from the other language sections apply to British universities.

Evaluation of the European Baccalaureate

In a recent study based on a sample of over 500 former European School pupils, Kelly and Kelly compared the performances at British and Irish Universities of students who had taken the European Baccalaureate with the performances of students who had studied A-levels.

This showed that, in terms of the probability of getting a good degree, a European Baccalaureate (EB) score of:
  • 80 or more is roughly equivalent to 360 UCAS points awarded for A-levels (3 A grades).
  • An EB score of 70 to 79 is equivalent to a UCAS score of 320-340 (ABB to AAB) and
  • an EB score of 60 to 69 is equivalent to 280-300 UCAS points (BBC, BBB).'

Even students with a bare pass at the EB (60-64) are more likely to get a good degree at university than students who achieved 240-280 UCAS points (BBC, BCC, CCC). The full study can be downloaded from here:

Under the rules and regulations of the EB 50% is considered a fail whereas 60% is considered a pass. Due to the difficult nature of the exams students are seldom awarded more than 90%.
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