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Assessment in general upper secondary education


6.Upper secondary education and post-secondary tertiary Education

6.3Assessment in general upper secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Pupil/Students assessment

Regulations to the Education Act Chapter 3 on individual assessment states:

  • The pupils shall understand what they have to learn and what is required of them, e.g. by preparing them for what is expected of them in a more formal assessment situation.
  • The pupils shall receive feedback which tells them about the quality of their work or performance and which includes feedback on the reasons why their work is considered good or bad.
  • The pupils and apprentices shall be advised on how they may improve based on what they have done.
  • The pupils and apprentices shall be involved in their own learning by assessing their own work and development, amongst other things.

The students’ legislative right to assessment means both a right to formative (continuous) assessment and final assessment and a right to the documentation of their education. The students shall be assessed in the school subjects and order and conduct.

Pupil assessment has the following aims:

  • Informing the pupil, parents, teacher and school about the pupil's progress concerning the curricula objectives.
  • Serving as a tool for the guidance, motivation and development of the pupil.
  • Offering an opportunity for the teacher to continually evaluate his/her teaching, procedures and whether the pupil is gaining satisfactory learning outcomes from the teaching.
  • Providing information about the pupil’s ability to society, employers and higher education institutions.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment refers to both assessments of learning and assessment for learning and covers areas such as:

  • Six-monthly evaluations: Students shall be given six-monthly evaluations for each subject and order and conduct, i.e. twice during the academic year
  • Assessment in the classroom in form of continuous feedback to the student
  • Follow-up of results from different types of tests
  • Self-assessment: The students’ self-assessment is a part of the formative assessment. The regulations require the student to actively participate in the assessment of his or her own work, abilities and academic development.

Summative assessment

Summative assessment combines overall achievement and an examination and is made at the end of each subject programme in upper secondary education.

Two types of grades are awarded and recorded on pupils' certificates:

  1. Grades for overall achievement in each subject based on the pupils' work during the school year, including practical work, work in class, homework, tests, project work and group work. The overall achievement grades are given on a six-point scale from 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest). Decimal points are not used. The teacher sets the grades.
  2. Grades awarded in end-of-year examinations using the same grading system. Most examinations in written subjects are organised by public examination boards. Papers are evaluated centrally by groups of experienced teachers (see table below). As a safeguard against possible error, a separate commission of examiners deals with appeals. Their decision is final. Examinations are either written (up to 5 hours), oral (up to 30 minutes per candidate), oral-practical (up to 45 minutes per candidate) or practical (up to 5 hours).

Preparatory part of an examination

Pupils are given 48 hours notice before the oral exam. Oral examinations shall be carried out with a preparatory part where the candidate shall be given a theme or a problem-approach 24 hours before the examination.

The counties decide whether the other locally given examinations are carried out with a preparatory phase. This may last up to two days and shall normally not be taken into account in the assessment.

Organisation of centrally given written examinations

Centrally given examinations involve several stakeholders with different areas of responsibility.

The Directorate of Education and Training is responsible for the development, implementation and administration of the overall system of testing and assessment. This includes centrally given examinations with information and guidance materials.

The County Governors appoint external examiners based on suggestions by school-leaders/principals within the different subjects in primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education. For the subject Norwegian in upper secondary education, they also appoint an arbitrator or second examiner for their region. The County Governor is also responsible for implementing overall assessment of examinations and for the administration of complaints.

Communities and counties have the local responsibility for implementing centrally given written examinations in lower secondary education and upper secondary education. This applies to both centrally given written examination and the locally given written examinations (written, oral, practical, and oral-practical). They are also responsible for deciding which subjects and which candidates shall be selected for examinations based on the framework given by the Directorate of Education. The same applies to private schools

Subject Committees develop examinations in each subject and are responsible for overseeing that the examinations are in line with the curricula and relevant regulations, on the assignment of and in cooperation with the Directorate of Education and Training.

External examiners are responsible for the evaluation of the examination results in line with the competencies in the Subject Curriculum and for grading in the subject, as stated in the Guidelines for Examination.

Compulsory examinations in general upper secondary education by level

Within the 5 study areas for general studies leading to higher education, written examinations in Norwegian are compulsory. Also, pupils normally take at least two written examinations in at least two other subjects. These examinations are made by the Directorate for Education and Training and assessed by examiners appointed by the Directorate. Core curriculum options may be part of the subjects being tested. The county authorities decide which subjects the pupils will be examined in (see table below). 

The Overall Achievement grades given in each subject by the teachers at the end of Year 3 of upper secondary education are added to the Examination grades the pupil has received in the subjects that he/she has been examined in. They are used as a basis for applying for entry to higher education institutions.

Random selection of pupils and exams

The selection of candidates by the counties entails that pupils are distributed for examination. As a rule, this is based on the random selection following a principle of randomization. A consequence of the random selection is that the number of exams per pupil may vary, which may influence the number of grades that are at the basis for computing the average sum of marks for entry into higher education.

Table 1: Subjects for examination

Upper Secondary Education

Study area for study specialization

Languages, Social studies and economics, Natural sciences

Study area Music, dance, drama Study area Sports and physical education Study area Arts, design and architecture Study area for Media and communication
Year 1 Around 20% of the pupils are selected for an Examination in one subject. (written, practical, oral or oral-practical)  The same provision applies The same provision applies The same provision applies The same provision applies
Year 2 All pupils shall be selected for an examination in one subject (written, practical, oral or oral-practical) The same provision applies The same provision applies The same provision applies The same provision applies
Year 3

All pupils shall have an obligatory examination in their main language: Norwegian or Sami as their first language.

Pupils may be selected for examination in Norwegian as side language.

The same provision applies The same provision applies The same provision applies The same provision applies

Table 2: Examination in Core Curriculum Options in Year 3

  Study Specialisation Music, Dance, Drama Sports Arts, Design, Architecture Media and Communi-cation
Year 3 Upper Secondary Education 

Examinations in Core Curriculum Options
Pupils within Study Specialisation shall be selected for written examinations in 2 subjects. Also, pupils shall be selected for one oral, practical or oral-practical examination. Pupils shall be selected for an examination in 2 subjects. addition pupils shall have a compulsory oral-practical examination within the Core curriculum options of the study area. Pupils shall be selected for an examination in 3 subjects, written, oral, practical or oral-practical. At least one of the selected subjects shall be from the study area. Pupils shall be selected for an examination in 3 subjects, written, oral, practical or oral-practical. At least one of the selected subjects shall be from the study area. Pupils shall be selected for an examination in 3 subjects, written, oral, practical or oral-practical. At least one of the selected subjects shall be from the study area.

Section 3-12 of the Regulations to the Education Act states that pupils and apprentices shall be actively engaged in their own learning by assessing their own work and development, amongst other things. Self-assessment is part of the formative assessment with the aim that the pupil and apprentice reflect upon and become aware of their own learning. Pupils and apprentices shall be actively engaged in the assessment of their work, competence and professional development.

Progression of pupils/students

All upper secondary schools guide pupils on matters related both to the choice of the education programme and to their future careers. A general matriculation standard is introduced, giving entry to higher education.

Pupils may be admitted to upper secondary year 2 if they have completed upper secondary year 1 following the requirements of the curriculum. If a pupil has failed one or more subjects, they may still be admitted to upper secondary year 2 if the school finds there are compelling reasons to do so.

To be admitted to upper secondary year 3, pupils have to document completion of upper secondary year 2, or the school must accept that their skills and knowledge meet the level required. Pupils who need special assistance and who do not have grades from upper secondary year 1 are accepted based on an individual evaluation. Pupils are normally accepted to programmes building on year 1 of the education programme they have followed so that they receive a full qualification within the education programme of their choice.


General upper secondary education

Students are awarded grades according to their achievement. A distinction is made between occupational qualifications and qualifications for higher education. Out of the present 12 education programmes, there are currently four programmes that provide qualifications for higher education.  The minimum requirements for admittance to higher education include two components:

  • Successful completion of three years of upper secondary education including upper secondary year 1, 2 and 3 (regardless of area of study) or possession of a recognised vocational qualification.
  • Studies corresponding to a specific level of attainment, determined by the number of lessons per week, within the following general subject areas: Norwegian, English, Social studies History, Mathematics and Natural Science.
  • Certificate awarded upon completion of three years of upper secondary education leading to either a general admission qualification for higher education or a vocational qualification in vocational subjects.

To gain the certificate, the candidate must have passed all subjects and examinations according to the curriculum. The certificate lists the compulsory subjects all pupils must have and the subjects related to the chosen programme. The grades recorded on certificates are those awarded by the subject teacher indicating the pupil's level of achievement in the subject, with the addition of examination grades.

There are two ways of gaining a higher education admission qualification: either by three years of study with a minimum level of attainment in the subjects mentioned above or by completing and passing upper secondary year 1 and 2 on a vocational programme followed by a supplementary programme at upper secondary year 3.

Upper secondary school certificates are issued on the authority of the school and signed by the principal.