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Assessment in vocational upper secondary education


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

6.6Assessment in vocational upper secondary education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Students Assessment

Assessment based on competences in vocational education is a methodology developed by The Center for Vocational Education and Adult Education - the Qualification Development Sector and the School Network of the Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training.

Two basic types of assessment based on the competences are used in schools:

  • formative assessment;
  • summative (final) assessment.

Formative assessment is the main form of assessment during vocational secondary education. It is carried out continuously for each subject by using three forms of examination:

  • oral,
  • written and
  • practical work.

Assessment is based on several principles:

  • objectivity,
  • relevance,
  • necessity of different assessment methods and techniques,
  • fairness,
  • timeliness,
  • non-discrimination and respect for individual differences,
  • age,
  • capacities,
  • needs,
  • previous achievements and conditions. 

The assessment of students’ knowledge (skills, performance, practical work, engagement) in all subjects is carried out through a five-point scale of both qualitative and quantitative examination marks:

  • 5 (excellent),
  • 4 (very good),
  • 3 (good),
  • 2 (satisfactory), and
  • 1 (unsatisfactory).

Students’ behavior is graded on the same scale.

During one semester, each student must earn at least 3 marks for each subject, which serve as a basis for forming the final grade at the end of the semester. The final grade is proposed by the teacher and approved by the School Teachers’ Council. The grade point average (GPA) is calculated at the end of the first semester as an average of all final grades in that semester, and at the end of the school year - based on all grades during that year. It also includes a grade for the student’s behavior. There are 4 GPA categories:

  • excellent (GPA>4.50),
  • very good (3.50<GPA<4.49),
  • good (2.50<GPA<3.49),
  • satisfactory (GPA<2.49).

The GPA cannot be calculated if any of the final grades is 1 (unsatisfactory), in which case the student has to be re-assessed, as explained in the Progression of Students.

All grades, final grades, GPAs and any other notes on students’ assessment and progression are tracked through a school record. At the end of each semester and school year, students receive their own record cards with the same information. 

Summative assessment in vocational education is carried out through the system of national exams and it ends secondary education. It may be in the form of:

  • vocational graduation exam and
  • final exam.

Students who complete four-year secondary vocational education will take the graduation exam according to the program determined by a special Bylaw starting from 2020/2021 school year. Students who complete three-year secondary vocational education will take the final exam starting from the school year 2019/2020.

Vocational graduation exam

Vocational graduation exam assesses competences acquired during secondary school and is compulsory for all students of 4-year vocational schools, at the end of the 4th grade.

Vocational graduation exam takes place throughout the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia at the same time. The examination layout plan is determined by the school calendar for the secondary schools and includes two regular exam periods: June and August.

The vocational graduation exam consists of three minor exams and a student must pass all three to pass the entire vocational graduation exam. In addition to these, the student has the right to take additional (optional) exams. The additional (optional) part of the vocational graduation exam corresponds to the optional part of the general graduation exam.

Required exams as part of the vocational graduation exam are:

  1. Serbian language and literature, i.e. mother tongue and literature;
  2. Mathematics (except for the educational profiles that do not have math in the last two years. They select a subject from the list of general education subjects where the mathematics was offered as well);
  3. Vocational exam (exam / test of vocational-theoretical knowledge and practical work).

General subjects are of the same test content and structure as in general secondary education.

The content of the vocational exam is determined by the Bylaw for each educational profile. The vocational exam consists of:

  • theoretical part (test / examination of vocational-theoretical knowledge) and
  • practical part (practical exam).

Theoretical part of the vocational exam is the verification of the vocational and theoretical knowledge necessary for the tasks’ performance for which the student is being educated. The test is designed to include all levels of knowledge and all contents of vocational subjects that are essential for the performance of tasks and duties within the scope of occupation, as well as for continuing education in the field. The test is done in writing and contains up to 50 tasks. It is considered that the student has passed the test if he/she has achieved a minimum of 50.5% of the total number of points. The commission for the examination of tests consists of three teachers of vocational subjects.

During practical exam, as part of a vocational exam, a student performs practical work tasks that test vocational competences, i.e. the acquired knowledge, abilities and skills.

For the purpose of the practical part of the vocational exam, a list of standardized tasks is being set based on which a school forms its own list in each exam period. Number of tasks in the school list must be at least 10% higher than the number of students in a class who take practical exam.

After completion of a three-year secondary vocational education by dual model, the candidate has the right to take the vocational or general graduation exam if he/she has mastered the program for acquiring the competencies required by the graduation exam program.

The vocational graduation exam marks (1-5, same as for formative assessment) do not affect further schooling; however, the passage of the exam (all parts passed with at least mark 2) is prerequisite for graduating from a vocational secondary school.

Final exam 

Final exam is intended for students of 3-year vocational programmes and has a certification character. It assesses competences acquired during secondary education in the main field of study. This exam is mandatory for those graduating from vocational secondary schools and it allows students to join the labour market and search for a job in their occupational profiles.

The content of the final exam is prescribed by the specific Bylaws for each educational profile. It is realized through a practical exam consisting of one or more standardized tasks. Same as with practical part of the vocational exam, a school forms a school list of standardized tasks in each examination period. The number of task assignments in the school list must be at least 10% higher than the number of students in the class who are taking the final exam.

When a student achieves at least 50% of the total number of points on each practical task is considered to have demonstrated competence and passed the practical part of the vocational exam or final exam. The test and the assessment key of the theoretical part of the vocational exam as well as the standardized work tasks and the guidance for assessing the practical work of the vocational graduation exam and the final exam are prepared by the Institute for Improvement of Education and Training - The Center for Vocational and Adult Education.

The evaluation of the acquired vocational competences, i.e. knowledge, abilities and skills is provided by a three-member examination commission that is established for both vocational graduation and final exams. The commission consists of two vocational subject teachers, one of whom is a chairman of the commission, and a representative of employers - an expert in the given field of work.

Vocational graduation and final exams are conducted at schools and job sites and where there are conditions for the completion of the exams.

Besides vocational graduation and final exams there are also:

  • Grade exam – see the Progression of Students section.
  • Make-up exam – see the Progression of Students section.
  • Supplementary exam for students transferring from one school or stream to another.

All forms of assessment, including assessment criteria, are adjusted to students with disabilities in both regular and special education schools, according to their Individual Education Plans. 

Progression of Students

Students whose all final grades at the end of a school year are at least satisfactory (2) can proceed to the next grade. However, it is possible for a student under certain circumstances to repeat a grade. If a student has up to two unsatisfactory (1) final grades at the end of a school year, he/she is required to take a makeup exam in each of these subjects. If such students do not pass this exam, they have to repeat the grade. In case they have more than two unsatisfactory final grades at the end of a school year, they automatically have to repeat the grade. Final grade students cannot repeat the grade; in the case of unsatisfactory final grades, they continue taking their makeup exams until they pass.

Students who do not have marks at the end of a semester (e.g. due to absence during a semester) are obliged to take their grade exams in respective subjects. Students who fail these exams undergo the same procedure as described above. The grade exam is also intended for home-teaching and distance learning pupils.

Students whose capacities and achievements are high above average can, subject to the approval by the School Council and Principal, switch to accelerated education, which allows them to complete two grades in one school year. Their achievement is assessed through grade exams, under the same rules as described above.

Progression of students with disabilities is determined by their Individual Education Plans.


A student who completes all grades and passes his graduation exam, or alternatively his final exam is considered to have graduated from a vocational secondary school. A vocational secondary school graduate receives Certificates on Grade Completion (separate for each grade), as well as the Secondary School Certificate as approved by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development and issued by the school. In addition to the Secondary School Certificate а student receives a diploma supplement at the end of the 4th grade. These certificates allow students to continue their education or to start working in their field of occupation.