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Assessment in general upper secondary education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

6.3Assessment in general upper secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Student Assessment

General study assessment in upper secondary schools is in the hands of teachers, under the supervision of the head teacher. Upper secondary schools generally have examinations at the end of every semester, regardless of the type of school. These examinations are in most cases written. Pupils are obliged to take these if they wish to continue and complete their education. The examination period, including the time that it takes to mark the exams, is around three weeks each semester. Some grammar schools that have traditional classes or forms have more extensive final examinations at the end of the final year and last school year than the ones described above. There are no formal comprehensive final examinations in schools that operate according to a unit-credit system. 

Grades are given in whole numbers on a scale from one to ten in all schools, ten being the highest. On receiving their marks, all pupils have the right to inspect their examinations in the presence of a teacher. There are no external examiners except in the event of a dispute between a teacher and a pupil. Pupil evaluation is carried out both by continuous assessment and final assessment at the end of each semester. The continuous assessment is decided by the teacher and is, for example, based on tests, homework and pupil participation during lessons. In the theoretical aspect of a course there are usually written examinations, but in practical courses assessment is based either on assignments that have been carried out during the semester or written and practical examinations. 

Progression of Students

The conditions of and procedures for assignment of supplementary study to a student are set out in the school's curriculum. The school rules may establish additional bases for exclusion from upper secondary school. The standard period of study in upper secondary school is three years; the period of study may be prolonged or shortened based on an individual curriculum. In schools that operate according to the unit-credit system, pupils are given a certain number of credits for each course unit they complete. The pupil's progress is thus measured in credits. The passing grade for each course unit is four-and a half or five on a 1-10 scale. M most schools allow a second attempts to complete a given course unit.


Students or external students who have fulfilled the conditions for graduation from upper secondary school are issued an certificate by the school which specifies which course units or subjects they have taken and the marks they have received.  If the pupil graduates from a school that operates on a unit-credit system, the certificate also shows the number of credits completed in individual subjects and in the branch of study. These pupils can graduate at the end of both the autumn and spring semesters.  The school-leaving certificate gives the pupil the right to enter other schools. The matriculation certificate gives the pupil the right to enter schools at the higher education level (university level).

Students with special educational needs whose individual curriculum has reduced or replaced the learning outcomes will graduate based on the learning outcomes determined by the school curriculum.