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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Candice here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer your most common French questions.
The question for this lesson is How does the French school system work, and what is the baccalauréat?
Le baccalauréat is an exam that students can take at the end of their secondary education. Taking the exam will give you a diploma that shows your skill level of certain subjects. Le baccalauréat or le bac is also required in order to go into a university. There are 3 different types of baccalauréat – le baccalauréat général, le baccalauréat technologique, and le baccalauréat professionnel.
Le baccalauréat général is further split up into series, kind of like majors. You can pursue le baccalauréat économique et social (ES), le baccalauréat littéraire (L) or le baccalauréat scientifique (S). This prepares students to enter universities.
Le baccalauréat technologique has 8 series and prepares students for working in laboratories, management, or applied arts. Many students go on to study these subjects at university. Le baccalauréat professionnel prepares students to begin working immediately. You can specialize in over 80 different subjects, like industrial maintenance or electric systems.
Le bac is scored out of 20, like all French exams. A 10 is a passing grade. A 12 or 13 is assez bien or “satisfactory.” 14 or 15 is bien or “good”. And 16 or above is très bien, “very well done.” Le baccalauréat takes a long time to complete. If you take le baccalauréat général série scientifique, you will have to sit for 12 exams total. And some of the exams are 4 hours long. Because of this, students spend their last two years preparing for le bac.
The school system up until university is quite different from the US system. We’ll go through them in chronological order:
Ecole maternelle is “pre-school,” and starts at age 2 to 5.
CP is “first grade” and the first year of Ecole élémentaire.
Sixième is similar to “6th grade” and is the first year of collège or “middle school.”
Seconde is the first year of lycée or “high school”
Première is when students would begin studying for le bac. This is the year they would take les épreuves anticipées. These are the exams that everyone takes.
Terminale is the last year of lycée. Students spend this year studying for the specific type of bac they want to take.
If you are a high school student who is dreaming about attending a French university, you’re in luck! You don’t have to take the bac to apply. You just have to take a French language exam.
Pretty neat, right?
If you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
A bientôt, see you soon!