Bulgaria: Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma of Secondary Education)

Updated July 2016

Country
  • Bulgaria
Education context

Education is not compulsory after the age of 16.

Secondary education (grades 9 to 12, ages 16 –19).

Up until 2003 separate diplomas were awarded for the general and vocational pathway:

  • Diploma za zavarsheno sredno obrazovanie (General)
  • Diploma za zavarsheno sredno spetsialno obrazovanie (Professional / Vocational).

Since 2003, successful completion of secondary education culminates in the award of the Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma for Secondary Education), which is the same for general education and vocational education and training.

Students must pass State matriculation examinations (Darzhaven Zrelosten Izpit or Matura) in two subjects to achieve their Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma of Secondary Education).

Structure

Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma of Secondary Education) is a group diploma awarded by secondary schools.

Students take a wide range of subjects. These include a combination of compulsory subjects, subjects selected from a restricted group (depending on the student's interests / capabilities and the school profile), and subjects chosen freely.

Compulsory subjects include arts, biology and health education, Bulgarian language and literature, chemistry and protection of the environment, ethics and law, foreign languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, etc.), geography and economics, history and civilization, informatics, information technologies, mathematics, philosophy, physical education and sport. physics and astronomy, psychology and logic, world and personality. Students must pass the State matriculation examinations (Darzhaven Zrelosten Izpit or Matura) in two subjects to achieve their Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma of Secondary Education).

Subject areas
  • Arts
  • Bulgarian language and literature
  • Foreign languages
  • Mathematics, informatics and information technologies
  • Physical education and sport
  • Science and ecology
  • Social sciences and civic education
Levels

Acceptable as a group qualification satisfying general HE entrance requirements.

State matriculation examinations (Darzhaven Zrelosten Izpit or Matura) are regarded as comparable to A level grades whilst Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma for Secondary Education) overall is considered comparable to AS level grades.

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.

Grading

Both the Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma for Secondary Education) and the State matriculation examination (Darzhaven Zrelosten Izpit or Matura) marks are expressed as scores out of 6, with 6 being excellent and 3 being the minimum pass mark:

  • 6 otlichen (excellent)
  • 5 mnogo dobur (very good)
  • 4 dobur (good)
  • 3 sreden (minimum pass mark)
  • 2 slab (poor)
Assessment

Students are awarded a final average mark for their whole Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma for Secondary Education) / study course.

Students must pass the State matriculation examinations (Darzhaven Zrelosten Izpit or Matura) in two subjects to achieve their Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma of Secondary Education).

For the State matriculation examinations Bulgarian language and literature is a compulsory subject for all students. The other subjects are of the student’s choice. Students get a mark for each State matriculation examination.

According to current national legislation, if a student fails in a State matriculation examination, he/she can sit for it an unlimited number of times.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Candidates are awarded a final average mark for their whole Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma of Secondary Education) / study course and a mark for each State matriculation examination.

Guided / notional learning hours notes

Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (Diploma for Secondary Education) is regarded as comparable in size to three A levels or six AS levels.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

UK HEPs tend to focus on results within State matriculation examination subjects as well as average grades.

An offer of DSO 6 plus an excellent mark in each of the two State matriculation examination subjects (or 6+6+4 / 6+6+5 in three State matriculation examination subjects) would target the top 1 – 2% of the Bulgarian student population.

Some UK HEPs require students to undertake additional qualifications or entrance examinations.

Timing of assessments and results

State matriculation examinations are held at the end of May every year and results are announced at the beginning of June.

Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (DSO) is issued in the second half of June.

Certification information

According to the Bulgarian Ministry of Education’s website, in 2008:

  • 76,013 students registered for the State matriculation examinations
  • of them only 1,748 students registered for a third, voluntary subject (2% of total State matriculation examination students)
  • only 845 (1%) passed the third examination successfully.

Information about the State matriculation examinations in May 2015:

  • 52,856 students registered for the compulsory subject Bulgarian language and literature;
  • 53,247 students registered for a second subject, which is of the student’s choice. Students must sit for a second subject as well in order to achieve the Diploma za sredno obrazovanie;
  • only 194 students registered for a third subject. Students do not have to sit for a third subject in order to achieve the Diploma za sredno obrazovanie.
Progression information

Diploma za sredno obrazovanie (DSO) is a prerequisite for entry to HEPs in Bulgaria.

Few universities in Bulgaria currently use the overall results as an admission component. Most use grades in certain DSO subjects plus results in 1 / 2 / 3 State matriculation examination subjects which are weighted differently.

Because of the exam’s challenging nature, students who sit a third State matriculation examination subject have a significant advantage in the university admissions process.

Further information

Ministry of Education and Science, Bulgaria: www.minedu.government.bg (in Bulgarian)