In almost all of the Länder the Allgemeine Hochschulreife (general entrance qualification for higher education) is obtained after the successful completion of 12 (eight-year Gymnasium) or 13 consecutive school years.
At Schularten mit drei Bildungsgängen the Gymnasium course of education is not, as a rule, reduced to eight years.
Common principles for upper secondary education were laid down by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) in the "Agreement on the structure of the gymnasiale Oberstufe in the upper secondary level" ('Vereinbarung zur Gestaltung der gymnasialen Oberstufe in der Sekundarstufe II') of July 1972, as periodically amended.
The gymnasiale Oberstufe is divided up into a one-year introductory phase and a two-year qualification phase. Grade 10 may have a dual function as the final year of schooling in lower secondary education and the first year of schooling in the gymnasiale Oberstufe. At the eight-year Gymnasium, successful completion of grade 10 will entitle the pupil to enter the qualification phase of the gymnasiale Oberstufe. At the nine-year Gymnasium, successful completion of grade 10 will entitle the pupil to enter the introductory phase of the gymnasiale Oberstufe.
For the geographical accessibility of schools in the secondary sector, the information on the geographical accessibility of primary schools applies.
Admission Requirements and Choice of School
Admission to courses of general education at upper secondary level is based on leaving certificates and qualifications acquired at the end of lower secondary level. For the possibility of gaining admission into a specific school, see the section on the organisation of the lower secondary level. The admission requirements for the gymnasiale Oberstufe are set forth above.
Age Levels and Grouping of Pupils/Students
At the latest upon entrance into the gymnasiale Oberstufe, the pupils are, as a rule, no longer taught in annual classes. The class unit is replaced by a system of compulsory and elective subjects, with the possibility of individual specialisation. Within the scope of the relevant agreement of the Standing Conference (Kultusministerkonferenz), the responsibility for the organisation of lessons and for the design of the compulsory and elective subjects with the possibility of individual specialisation lies with the Länder. The above explanations regarding the gymnasiale Oberstufe equally apply to the Berufliche Gymnasien.
Organisation of the School Year
For the organisation of the school year in the secondary sector, the information on the organisation of the school year in the primary sector applies.
Organisation of the School Day and Week
There is no fixed end to teaching times at upper secondary level (Sekundarstufe II). The weekly instruction time at the gymnasiale Oberstufe usually is at least 30 weekly periods which are completed within the framework of courses at a basic level of academic standards and of courses at an increased level of academic standards.
At the eight-year Gymnasium, the number of weekly periods at lower and upper secondary level is generally increased by two to four weekly periods. To guarantee the mutual recognition of the Abitur, all Länder have to ensure teaching of a total of at least 265 weekly periods in the lower secondary level and the gymnasiale Oberstufe to which up to five hours in elective subjects may be added.
For general information about the daily and weekly timetable and the five-day or six-day week, see the section on the organisation of the primary sector.