France: Baccalauréat Général (assessed from 2021)

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The French Baccalauréat, established by Napoleon I in 1808, is a group award taught and examined during the final two years of secondary education.


There are three different types of Baccalauréat, usually offered in separate schools:


  • Baccalauréat Général: academic subjects 
  • Baccalauréat Technologique: technical vocational subjects in the applied sciences, design and applied arts, hospitality science and management or artistic performance studies in music and dance
  • Baccalauréat Professionnel: general and vocational subjects including management, administration and logistics


An international variant of the Baccalauréat Général is also available to bilingual students enrolled in an international section (see France: Option Internationale du Baccalauréat, OIB).


In 2019, a total of 743,594 candidates took the French Baccalauréat with 398,153 (53.5%) taking the Baccalauréat Général, 155,661 (21%) the Baccalauréat Technologique and 189,780 (25.5%) the Baccalauréat Professionnel. In the same year, there were 4,059 candidates for the Option Internationale du Baccalauréat (all 16 language versions) with just over 1,400 sitting the British version of the Option Internationale du Baccalauréat, the largest cohort.


  • France

The French Baccalauréat Général aims to provide a broad, balanced, and academically challenging curriculum that equips students with the knowledge and skills they need for success in higher education and life beyond. Increased subject specialisation in three Special Subjects (Spécialités) in Premiere (Year 12) and two Special Subjects (Spécialités) in Terminale (Year 13) offers additional depth and enhances progression opportunities.

Education context

From age 15, students enter the Lycée period of education (upper secondary) for three years:

  • Seconde (Year 11, aged 15 –16 years)
  • Premiere (Year 12, aged 16 –17 years)
  • Terminale (Year 13, aged 17 –18 years)


The majority of French students passing the Baccalauréat Général and the Baccalauréat Technologique will go on to higher education. The Baccalauréat Professionnel is primarily designed for students going on to further education.

Awarding organisation
  • International

The new Baccalauréat Général (examined from 2021) is structured around a compulsory core curriculum and Special Subjects (Spécialités) allowing a higher degree of subject specialisation. Therefore, it remains a ‘grouped’ award requiring competence in a range of subjects whilst also allowing a degree of specialisation in certain (chosen) subjects.


The compulsory core curriculum includes: French Literature (Première / Year 12), Philosophy (Terminale / Year 13), two foreign languages, History-Geography (taught as one subject in France), Physical Education and Science.


In addition to studying the compulsory core curriculum, students choose three Special Subjects (Spécialités) in Première / Year 12 (each being taught for 4 hours per week) and retain two of these in Terminale / Year 13 (both being taught for 6 hours per week).


Compulsory final examinations in four subjects count for 60% of the final overall mark: French Literature is examined in written and oral examinations at the end of première / Year 12; the two Special Subjects (representing just over 30% of the final overall mark in themselves) and Philosophy are then examined during Year 13; an oral examination is also taken based on a personal project, developed by the student and relating to one or both of the Special Subjects, at the end of Terminale / Year 13.


The remainder of the curriculum is assessed through continuous assessment: a combination of results in nationally set and anonymously marked tests (30%), and marks awarded by teachers during the two years of study (10% of the final mark).



Subject areas

In addition to the core curriculum outlined above, students choose from the following Special Subjects (Spécialités):


  • Art
  • Engineering Sciences
  • Foreign Language and Literature
  • History, Geography & Political Sciences
  • Humanities, Literature & Philosophy
  • Information Technology
  • Life and Earth Sciences (Biology)
  • Mathematics
  • Physics/Chemistry
  • Social and Economic Sciences


Students select three Special Subjects in Première / Year 12 (each taught for 4 hours per week) and reduce to two in Terminale / Year 13 (each taught for 6 hours per week).


Not all subjects or combinations of subjects will be available in each school.


Additional options in languages, art, music and mathematics may also be taken but are not examined. They are, however, assessed in the termly marks (teacher assessments) which are given for all subjects and which collectively form 10% of the final overall mark for the Baccalauréat.


Level 3 of the RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) – acceptable as a group qualification satisfying general university entrance requirements.


For further information on the qualification level you may wish to refer to UK NARIC, which is the UK body responsible for providing comparability of overseas qualifications.


All students achieve an overall score out of 20 for their Baccalauréat – this includes fractions.


A Pass (Passable/Sans mention) requires an average of 10 points or more.


In addition, honours grades (mentions) are awarded on the basis of the average point score achieved:

  • Tres bien (Distinction) = average of 16 or more points
  • Bien (Merit) = average of 14 points or more but fewer than 16
  • Assez bien = average of 12 points or more but fewer than 14

There are two rounds of external examinations within the Baccalauréat programme accounting for 60% of the overall mark: the first at the end of Première (Year 12) followed by final examinations towards the end of Terminale (Year 13). The examinations are either written or oral, or both. These are centrally organised and administered by the French Ministry of Education. The remainder of the overall mark (40%) is provided by continuous assessment (see ‘Structure’ above).

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

All assessed subjects are marked out of 20, and the Baccalauréat score is the student’s overall average score (out of 20). Scores include fractions.


Results are based on the candidate’s average score across all components, calculated according to the following Coefficients (weightings):




Special Subject 1


Special Subject 2


Special Subject Oral


French Literature





Language A


Language B






Physical Education


Special Subject dropped at the end of première


Teacher Assessment – average of all subjects




Resit arrangements

A candidate who narrowly misses the overall pass mark of 10/20 can take supplementary oral examinations in up to two subjects shortly after results have been published in July. The marks gained in these oral examinations (called rattrapage) replace the original written marks in these subjects and may allow the candidate to achieve an overall pass.


Candidates wishing to improve their overall score in the Baccalauréat, or in individual subjects, must re-sit the whole diploma the following year, but this is rare.

Guided/notional learning hours
1960 hours
Guided/notional learning hours notes

There is an average of 960 hours per year, making a total of 1,920 for the two examined years of the Baccalauréat. (32 weeks, with between 27 – 32 hours a week).

For UK HE admissions purposes, the Baccalauréat is regarded as comparable in programme size with three A levels hence given a combined multiplier of 12.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

Some HEPs may wish to set subject-specific requirements in addition to an overall Diploma result.

It is important to note that assessment in the Baccalauréat Général is not subject to the same moderation processes as in the UK: individual assessors are free to apply their own marks after an initial period of ‘harmonisation’. Equally, unlike with A Levels, examination results for Special Subjects are the product of a single examination rather than a number of components and therefore may not always be a reliable reflection of a candidate’s ability in the subject.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Baccalauréat examinations take place at the end of Première / Year 12 and towards the end of Terminale / Year 13. Results are published in early July.


Students receive official results in mid-July, when they are made available online and on school notice boards. Official transcripts (Relevés de notes) are available from school offices.

Qualification date
Starting from 01 Sep 2021
Qualification dates notes

The Baccalauréat was created in 1808. The most recent far-reaching reform, which changed the structure of the qualification and abolished the three subject-based streams (ES, L and S), came into effect in 2021.

Reporting and certification information

Results of Baccalauréat 2019 can be found here:…



Progression information/access to HE within home country

In theory the Baccalauréat admits to all faculties in French universities, but universities may redirect students to appropriate courses depending on their results.

Further information

For more information about the international variant of the French Baccalauréat Général, the Option Internationale du Baccalauréat (OIB), please see France: Option Internationale du Baccalauréat (OIB) or consult ASIBA: