France: Baccalauréat Général

Last updated
Last verified

Updated July 2016

Country
  • France
Education context

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

  • seconde (15 –16)
  • premiere (16 –17)
  • terminale (17 –18)

There are three types of Lycée – the Général, Technologique and Professionnel (vocational). Général and Technologique courses are provided in standard high schools, whereas the vocational courses are provided in professional high schools.

Baccalauréats are available to students achieving in all three courses. In 2013, 38% of French students took the Baccalauréat Général, 15.6% took the Baccalauréat Technologique and 20.1% took the Baccalauréat Professionnel.

Around 95% of French students passing the Baccalauréat Général, 85% of those passing the Baccalauréat Technologique and 25% of those passing the Baccalauréat Professionnel will go on to higher education. The third course is primarily designed for students going on to further education.

Structure

The Baccalauréat Général is examined over two years (premiere and terminale). All students choose one of three ‘pathways’ (séries) within the Baccalaureate – ES (Economics & Social Sciences), S (Scientific) or L (Humanities), which determines the focus of study, particularly in the final year.

There are two stages of compulsory examination – initial exams in French language and literature and either history / geography (for students in the Science pathway) or science (for those in the Economics & Social Sciences and Humanities pathways).

There are seven compulsory final examinations, plus the students’ choice of specialisation (see additional information below for detail).

All students take philosophy in the final year. There is a required option for further specialisation within the chosen pathway which includes an additional two hour class in the chosen area and increases the weight of these subjects within the final Baccalauréat – see additional information below.

Results are based on the candidate’s average score across all examinations.

Subject areas

All students study French language and literature and philosophy in the first year of examinations and complete a small-group interdisciplinary project. Those students choosing the ES and L pathways will study science in their first year, and those opting for the S pathway must study history / geography in the first year. In the final year PE / sport is compulsory for all students.

The focus of each of the pathways is described below, details of subject options are provided in the section for 'further information’.

Scientific (S):

  • emphasis on mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and geology – focus on abstraction, rigor, reasoning and experimentation.

Economics & Social Sciences (ES):

  • emphasis on socio- economic environment – history, geography & maths – focus on analysis & exploration.

Humanities (L):

  • emphasis on language and literature, history, geography & arts – focus on analysis & synthesis, critical thinking.
Levels

Level 3 – acceptable as group qualification satisfying HE general 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.

Grading

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

In addition, students who pass each stage of the Baccalauréat examinations first time are eligible for the honours grades. These are awarded on the basis of the average point score achieved.

  • Tres bien (very good) = average of 16 or more points.
  • Bien (good) = average of 14 points or more but fewer than 16.
  • Assez bien (Good enough) = average of 12 points or more but fewer than 14.

Exceptional marks (usually above 18) can receive unofficial félicitations du jury (jury’s congratulations). There are no fixed criteria for obtaining this accolade; it is rewarded at the marking panel’s discretion.

Sans mention are those students who have achieved a pass, but without the honours grades – either because of a lower score or because they did not pass the component examinations at their first attempt.

Assessment

There are two rounds of external examinations within the Baccalauréat programme, a round at the end of the première (penultimate) year, and final tests at the end of the terminale year.

The examinations are either written or oral, or a combination, with the emphasis on written. These are centrally organised and administered by the French Ministry of Education.

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.

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.

UCAS Tariff points

Unknown qualification

Grade Points
data
Key issues for UK HE admissions

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

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Baccalauréat exam dates in 2016 were 15-22 June. Results are published from 5 July.

Students receive official results in mid-July, when they are made available online and on school notice boards. Official certificates are available from school offices.

Qualification dates notes

The Baccalauréat was created in 1808. Since 1995 the Baccalauréat Général has been organised into three pathways (series).

Reporting and certification information

Results of Baccalauréat 2012 (2011) (source Note d’information 13.02 – National Ministry of Education)

Pathway Total students Pass rate Tres bien Bien Assez bien Sans mention
ES 96,496 89.1 5.1 13.8 28.8 52.3
L 46,457 86.9 5 12 26.3 56.7
S 150,884 90.8 12.5 20.5 28.6 38.4
All 2012 293,837 89.6 8.9 17 28.3 45.8
All 2011 283,821 88.3 7.5 15.4 27.6 49.5
Progression information/access to HE within home country

In theory the Baccalauréat admits to all faculties in French universities, but in practice, the specialisation can be important and thus a Science pathway Baccalauréat is almost essential for medicine.

Further information

Examination subjects by pathway

L (Humanities) pathway Compulsory exams: Initial exams

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
French language and literature Written 4 hours
French language and literature Oral 20 minutes
Science Written 1.5 hours
Interdisciplinary project (TPE) – group work Oral 30 mins for group of three candidates

Compulsory exams: Final exams

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
Literature Written 2 hours
History & geography Written 4 hours
Modern language 1 Written and oral 3 hours and 20 mins
Modern language 2 Written and oral 3 hours and 20 mins
Foreign language and literature Oral 10 mins
Philosophy Written 4 hours
PE / Sport Controlled assessment n/a

Specialisation exam – candidate choice (one subject)

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
Classics – Latin Written 3 hours
Classics - Greek Written 3 hours
Modern language 1 or 2 in more depth Oral 30 mins
Modern language 3 Oral 20 mins
Mathematics Written 3 hours
Key contemporary rights and issues Oral 20 mins
Fine arts Written & practical 3.5 hrs and 30mins
Cinema Written & oral 3.5 hrs and 30mins
Art history Written & oral 3.5 hrs and 30mins
Music Written & oral 3.5 hrs and 30mins
Theatre Written & oral 3.5 hrs and 30mins
Dance Written & oral 3.5 hrs and 30mins
Circus skills Written & oral 3.5 hrs and 30mins

Other exam type

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
PE / Sport (2) Controlled assessment n/a

ES (Economics & Social Sciences) pathway. Compulsory exams: Initial exams

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
French language and literature Written 4 hours
French language and literature Oral 20 minutes
Science Written 1.5 hours
Interdisciplinary project (TPE) – group work Oral 30 mins for group of three candidates

Compulsory exams: Final exams

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
History & geography Written 4 hours
Mathematics Written 3 hours
Economics & social science Written 4 hours (or 4 hours +1 hour)
Modern language 1 Written and oral 3 hours (written)
Modern language 2 Written and oral 2 hours (written)
Philosophy Written 4 hours
PE & Sport Controlled assessment n/a

Specialisation exam – candidate choice (one subject)

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
Economics in depth Written 1 hour
Mathematics Written Integrated into final mathematics exam above
Social science and politics Written 1 hour

Other exam type

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
PE / Sport (2) Controlled assessment n/a

S (Science) pathway. Compulsory exams: Initial exams 

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
French Written 4 hours
French Oral 20 minutes
History and geography Written 4 hours

Final exams

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
History and geography (from 2015) Written 3 hours
Mathematics Written 4 hours
Physics & chemistry Written & practical 3.5 hours + 1 hour
Earth/life sciences Written & practical 3.5 hours + 1 hour
Or ecology/agronomy Written & practical 3.5 hours + 1 hour
Or engineering science Written & practical 4 hours + 20 mins
Modern language 1 Written & oral 3 hours (written)
Modern language 2 Written & oral 2 hours (written)
Philosophy Written 4 hours
PE/Sport Controlled assessment n/a

Specialisation exam – candidate choice (one subject)

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
Mathematics Written & practical Integrated into final exam above
Or physics / chemistry Written & practical Integrated into final exam above
Earth/life sciences Written & practical Integrated into final exam above
Computer science Oral 20 mins
Ecology & agronomy Oral 30 mins

Other exam type 

Title of exam Type of exam Length of exam
PE/Sport (2) Controlled assessment n/a

http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid145/le-baccalaureat-general.html#un-bac…- par-serie