A-level chemistry exams are easy

School systems

Each country has its own school system that leads students to a national school leaving certificate. Many are different from ours. The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an international school leaving certificate that is recognized at most universities around the world. The IB is not linked to a specific school system, but rather an independent two-year program that may be offered by certified schools.

Here is a rough overview of school systems and our local options so that you can get started with what awaits you abroad. Details then in a personal conversation.

Great Britain
Most German students want to go to England in the 10th grade. This is not a very easy undertaking, since in our 10th grade - there Year 11 - the first school leaving certificate is taken, the so-called GCSEs. This qualification roughly corresponds to our secondary school leaving certificate after the 10th grade and is, however, a two-year program there. However, some private schools have set up a one-year curriculum for this and so we definitely have the opportunity to find a school that you can go to. The one-year program is often called Pre-A level or Pre-IB.

The range of subjects for the GCSEs is usually comparable to ours. English, math, science, geography, history, languages ​​(mostly French and / or Spanish, but also Latin, German, maybe even Chinese), music, art, sports, business, drama, religion, ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and Design courses mostly in the craft or textile sector as well as housekeeping are standard.


Students from Germany who go to the UK after Grade 10 are usually placed in the Lower Sixth Form, the first year of upper school. In the sixth form, either the English A levels, the IB or both are offered to obtain the university entrance qualification. In year 12, the A levels consist of 3-4 subjects, in year 13 one subject is usually taken. The above-mentioned GCSE subjects can usually be chosen as A level subjects, often additional subjects such as photography, art history, film, politics, psychology, economics, classical studies, media, philosophy, geology or theater studies.


In England School attendance lasts from year 1 (5 years) to year 11 (16 years). The first graduation from school, the so-called GCSEs, takes place in Year 11. The program extends over two years, Year 10 and Year 11. As a rule, eight to ten subjects are chosen, with certain subjects such as English, mathematics, the natural sciences and a foreign language being specified. In addition, you can choose from many other subjects.
After the 11th year, graduates either go on to vocational training or - if they have the right grades - join the upper level, the so-called sixth form. The Sixth Form is again a two-year program that leads to higher education entrance qualification, the A levels.
For the A levels, you choose four subjects in the first year, which are then taught very intensively. In the second year, many students take one subject and only graduate in three subjects. These specifications are currently being revised.
The A levels are recognized as subject-specific higher education entrance qualifications in Germany. A prerequisite, however, is a certain combination of subjects in the area that one is aiming for for a course of study. Four A level subjects are absolutely necessary in order to have a subject-related higher education entrance qualification recognized. The general university entrance qualification can be obtained with 5 A level subjects.
The state schools follow the national curriculum, the private schools are independent. But since both GCSEs and A levels are state school leaving exams, the private schools are of course working towards them.

Canada and USA
We find a very similar school system in Canada and the USA. In both countries, the provinces or the states are responsible for the education sector.
After elementary school, you switch to middle school or junior high school, then senior high school usually follows from grades 9 to 12. In some school districts, however, senior high schools or secondary schools also go from grades 8 to 12 or 10 to 12.
In high school, the students are not organized in a class, they form a year. The new ones in the 9th grade are called "Freshmen", in the 10th grade one is a "Sophomore", followed by the "Juniors" in the 11th grade and the "Seniors" in the 12th grade at the university again in the four-year bachelor's degree.
In order to receive the High School Diploma, students have to collect a certain number of credits in certain subjects or in certain areas. In each year there are subjects that must be taken and many electives that can be taken. As a rule, the compulsory subjects decrease with each higher year.
The public schools are structured as comprehensive schools. Therefore, you will also find a very large range of subjects there. In addition to the school subjects known to us, there are also many practically-oriented courses, e.g. in craft, in technology, in the field of housekeeping / cooking. You can try out a lot here from the 9th or 10th grade and some actually lead you to the training fields that suit you.
The private schools are more academically oriented and offer only a few practical courses. But there are exceptions to the rule, e.g. there are many private schools in Vermont and Maine that are privately run but are open to all students there on behalf of the local community.
The high school diploma from North America cannot easily be recognized in Germany. If you intend to do this, you should plan for at least two, preferably three years, so that all courses that the German requirements provide can be taken at the appropriate level.

International schools
There are international schools everywhere that accept students for just one semester or year. These schools have a specific curriculum, e.g. the English, the US, that of a specific Canadian province or the International Baccalaureate. These are then accredited by the respective supervisory authority and can be operated as a recognized school. The students usually come from all over the world.

International school leaving certificate
International Baccalaureate Diploma
For years, the number of pupils who achieve higher education entrance qualification with the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB) has been increasing steadily. More and more Germans are also taking the equivalent of the German Abitur at foreign schools and boarding schools.

With the right combination of subjects (similar to the Abitur) you will achieve an internationally recognized high school diploma (IB) at certain schools abroad in two years.

The IB is now offered by many private and public schools. In the two years that lead to the IB Diploma, you will be challenged both academically and personally. One subject each from the six subject groups mother tongue, foreign language (a modern foreign language or Latin or Greek), social sciences (among other things, you can choose history, psychology, geography or economics), natural sciences (here you choose among other things between bio, physics, chemistry), Mathematics and computer science as well as in the artistic field (this includes art, music, theater) must be taken. At least three of them are on the "Higher Level", all others on the "Standard Level". In order to receive the degree, all students have to write a thesis ("Extended Essay"), take the "Theory of Knowledge" course and get involved in the "CAS" area. "CAS" offers a balance to academic life at the school and means "Creativity, Action, Service". This means activities in the creative, sporting and non-profit area that are coordinated with the responsible supervisor at the school.

The schools I work with are all authorized by the IBO, the International Baccalaureate Organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, to offer and award the IB and are entitled "IB World School". Further information on the IB is available at www.ibo.org.