Latvia: Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību (Certificate of General Secondary Education)

Last updated
Last verified

Updated July 2016

Country
  • Latvia
Education context

General upper secondary education programmes last for three years (grades 10 – 12).

Since 2001/ 2002 general upper-secondary schools have offered four educational programmes:

  • general education programmes with no emphasis on any particular subject group
  • humanities and social science programmes with emphasis on languages and social sciences
  • mathematics, natural sciences and technology
  • vocationally oriented subjects (such as music, sport, economics which do not lead to professional qualifications).

All four education programmes have eight compulsory subjects and at least four elective subjects.

The number of instruction hours for each subject differs according to the education programme chosen.

The National Centre for Education, Valsts izglītības satura centrs (VISC) is responsible for the development, administration and grading of centralised examinations and for issuing the Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts (Certificate of the Centralised Exams). Until 2009 these functions were executed by the Centre for Curriculum Development and Examinations (ISEC).

Awarding organisation
  • International
Structure

To be awarded the Certificate of General Secondary Education Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību) and qualify to continue their education, students must complete courses in all subjects (minimum 12) and pass at least four final examinations, including three compulsory subjects and at least one elective.

The three compulsory examinations are in Latvian language, mathematics and a foreign language of the student’s choice (English, German, French and Russian). All compulsory examinations are centrally set and marked.

The elective examinations are chosen from examinations administered by the National Centre for Education (VISC) or it can be a school-based examination in a subject taught not less than 105 hours.

The results of the centrally marked examinations are issued in the form of the Certificate of the Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts), which is an appendix to the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību).

Final marks in all subjects and the results of internally marked state examinations are noted on Sekmju izraksts (Statement of Records), which is an appendix to the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību).

Final centralised examinations are seen as preparation for university, and are externally set, marked and graded.

Subject areas

In all education programmes there are eight compulsory subjects: Latvian language, literature, first foreign language, second foreign language, mathematics, Latvian and world history, sports, informatics.

Depending on the education programme, the number of elective subjects vary from four to seven.

The compulsory examinations are in Latvian Language, mathematics and a foreign language (English, German, French and Russian) of the student’s choice.

Centralised examinations (compulsory):

  • Latvian (written)
  • Mathematics (written)
  • Foreign language – English, German, French, Russian (written and oral)

Centralised examinations (elective):

  • Latvian & world history (written)
  • Chemistry (written)
  • Biology (written)
  • Physics (written)

Centrally set examinations (administered and marked by school):

  • Informatics (combined)
  • Geography (written)
  • Economics (written)
  • Russian language/ literature (written)
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

Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību) records individual grades for components of study on a 10-point grading scale (see Assessment section below).

Pre-2012 external examination results in the Certificate of the Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts) were reported on a six-grade scale A, B, C, D, E, F – where A is the highest and F is the lowest level. Passing a centralised examination required an overall score of at least 5%. Students with a score below that minimum failed the examination and did not receive the Certificate of the Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts) and the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību).

From 2012 / 2013 student results in the centralised examinations are reported in the form of percentages. The Certificate of the Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts) indicates the percentage of the resulting total subject score as well as each part of the exam percentage scores. Passing a centralised examination requires an overall score of at least 5%. Students with a score below that minimum fail the examination and do not receive the Certificate of the Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts) and the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību).

Results in locally marked and graded examinations are expressed using a 1-10 point scale. A student has failed the exam if the received grade is lower than 4.

From 2013 centralised examination results in foreign languages (in addition to percentage score) are reported in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) proficiency levels:

Total score in percentage CEFR level
95 –100% C1
70 – 94% B2
40 – 69% B1

Foreign language exam scores below 40% will be reported as percentage only. 

Assessment

The Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību) records individual grades for components of study on a 10-point grading scale.

A 10-point grading scale is used to evaluate educational achievements of pupils in upper-secondary education (years 10 – 12) in all the subjects taught:

Grading scale Educational achievements of pupils
10 distinction (izcili)
9 excellent (teicami)
8 very good (ļoti labi)
7 good (labi)
6 almost good (gandrīz labi)
5 satisfactory (viduvēji)
4 almost satisfactory (gandrīz viduvēji)
3 weak (vāji)
2 very weak (ļoti vāji)
1 very very weak (ļoti, ļoti vāji)

Centralised state examinations (centralizētie eksāmeni) – external national examination and marking (on a normative scale of 0% – 100%)

School examinations – centrally set, but administered and marked at school level (1 – 10 point scale)

For centrally set exams which are administered and marked by the school, VISC provides common marking criteria and tables for converting exam scores to a 10 point scale.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

The Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību) is awarded to students who have received positive assessment (at least 4 points) in all (no less than 12) subjects taught according to the chosen education programme and have passed at least four final examinations.

In subjects where centralised examinations are organised, students’ achievements are certified by the Certificate of Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts). Exam results in this certificate serve as selection criteria for the enrolment of students in higher education programmes. From 2012 /2013 student performance in centralised examinations has been reported only in percentages. Passing a centralised examination requires an overall score of at least 5%. Students with a score below that minimum fail the examination and do not receive the Certificate of Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts) and the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību).

A student who has not received evaluation (a yearly mark) in one of the subjects, or has been evaluated with a mark lower than ‘4’ in a subject or a state examination, receives only a school report (liecība) and is not awarded the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību).

Guided/notional learning hours notes

The minimum total number of 40-minute lessons per week is 36 at grade 12 (24 hours per week).

The regular school year lasts 36 weeks, from the beginning of September until the end of May.

It is therefore estimated that students taking 12 subjects undertake approximately 216 hours per subject across years 10 – 12 (three years).

The number of instruction hours for each subject differs according to the education programme chosen.

There are subjects (e.g. Latvian, mathematics, foreign languages, physics, chemistry, history) that are taught more hours and there are subjects (e.g. ethics, health study, psychology, music) that are taught only 50 hours. Each student’s study time during the three years of secondary education for each student may vary also because educational establishments are allowed to set additional hours for those subjects the school specialises in.

UCAS Tariff points

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Grade Points
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Key issues for UK HE admissions

Compared to the UK, the Latvian upper secondary education system places a greater emphasis on breadth than depth, with students taking 12 subjects, as opposed to three A levels and an AS level, or five Scottish Highers.

Historically some HEPs have accepted students with Atestāts 8+ in final exam subjects in lieu of GCE A level grade ABB entry requirements (7+ in lieu of BBB).

Other HEPs take the view that Atestāts subjects do not sufficiently prepare students for entry to degree programmes, particularly those that set high grade subject- specific entry requirements for A levels. These may require additional evidence of student ability and achievement as evidenced through admissions tests or additional international qualifications. Some may recruit Atestāts students to an additional foundation/access year prior to undergraduate studies.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Examinations are taken in March (foreign languages) and May until early June (other subjects). The Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību) is issued by the end of June.

Qualification dates notes

This qualification is current.

Reporting and certification information

Pre-2012 centralised examination results:

Examination A (%) B (%) C (%) D (%) E (%) F (%)
Latvian 80 –100 65 – 79 50 – 64 36 – 49 21 – 35 5 – 20
Foreign Lang 84 –100 68 – 83 52 – 67 36 – 51 19 – 35 5 –18
History 79 –100 59 – 78 41 – 58 28 – 40 20 – 27 5 –19
Mathematics 85 –100 62 – 84 40 – 61 23 – 39 12 – 22 5 –11
Physics 83 –100 65 – 82 46 – 64 30 – 45 19 – 29 5 –18
Chemistry 87 –100 76 – 86 58 – 75 41 – 57 22 – 40 5 – 21
Biology 86 –100 75 – 85 60 – 74 44 – 59 30 – 43 5 – 29

From 2013 centralised examination results are reported in percentages (individual components and an overall result for the exam).

From 2013 students taking centralised examinations in foreign languages are given a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level.

From 2016 centralised examinations in foreign languages can be substituted with an international language proficiency examination which meets the requirements set by the Regulation of the Cabinet of Ministers No 543, available at http://likumi.lv/ta/id/276818

After each examination session VISC prepares and provides statistical data, available on its website: www.visc.gov.lv (in Latvian).

Reporting centralised examination results from 2013

From spring 2013 onwards centrally marked examination results have been expressed in percentages instead of the A – F grade scale.

For each, a centrally marked total percentage and a percentage for each part of the exam will be reported. The percentage score shows a proportion of correct answers scored in points, against the maximum points possible in the whole exam or part of the exam.

From 2013, centralised exam results in foreign languages (in addition to percentage scores) will also contain information on the proficiency levels B1, B2 or C1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR).

In 2010 VISC carried out a study to determine if foreign language exams complied with CEFR requirements and could be used to assess school-leavers language proficiency according to CEFR levels. Experts from the University of Latvia carried out a thorough study analysing foreign language tasks and results. The study concluded that the foreign language exams were capable of providing tasks for the C1, B2 and B1 levels.

From 2013 the percentage scored in foreign language exams are being expressed in CEFR levels as: 95–100% C1, 70–94% B2, 40–69% B1.

Centrally set exams which are administered and marked by the school, and exams set, administered and marked by the school, are all assessed on a 10 point scale.

Progression information/access to HE within home country

Every student who has met the criteria below is entitled to continue studies in any higher education program in Latvia:

  • received the Certificate of General Secondary Education (Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību) with positive assessment (of at least 4 points) in all subjects taught according to the chosen programme, certified by the Statement of Records (Sekmju izraksts);
  • achieved a score of at least 5% in centralised national examinations, certified by Certificate of Centralised Exams (Vispārējās vidējās izglītības sertifikāts).

Students are admitted to HE in an open and equal competition on the basis of the centralised examinations results, except for people who studied before 2004, those who obtained upper-secondary education abroad, or people with special needs.

A higher education institution may set additional entry requirements, providing they are coordinated with the Council of Higher Education.

Further information

Sources: