Learning objectives, curriculum and assessment

Key terms: Mobility and exchange / Language of instruction / Occupational, educational and career guidance / EVAMAR: evaluation of the Baccalaureate reform

The educational goals of the Baccalaureate schools are to teach the students basic knowledge and skills with a view towards life-long learning, to encourage intellectual open-mindedness and independent thinking and judging, and to achieve the readiness to study at university. Baccalaureate schools aim to promote intelligence, personality development and health, individual study and working techniques, acquisition of knowledge and use of ICT, and skills in the fields of social issues, ethics, politics, science, communication, culture and aesthetics.

Curriculum and subjects

The Baccalaureate schools teach according to curricula which are issued or approved by the canton and are based on the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education's core curriculum for baccalaureate schools.

The basic subjects, a specialised subject and a complementary subject constitute the Baccalaureate subjects; a Baccalaureate essay must also be completed.

The following subjects are basic subjects:

  • First national language

  • A second national language

  • A third language (a third national language, English or an ancient language)

  • Mathematics

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Physics

  • History

  • Geography

  • Visual arts and/or music.

All students take an introductory course in economics and law as a further compulsory subject. The cantons can offer philosophy as an additional compulsory subject.

The specialised subject can be selected from eight subjects or groups of subjects, and the complementary subject from fourteen. Not all subjects are offered at all schools. The cantons determine which subjects are offered at baccalaureate schools.

The cantons specify the number of hours per week according to the Federal Council's Ordinance on Recognition of Baccalaureate (MAV) respectively the Regulation on Recognition of Baccalaureate (MAR) issued by the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). According to the MAR/MAV the proportions of time allocated to compulsory subjects are 30 to 40%, for mathematics and natural sciences 25 to 35%, for humanities and social sciences 10 to 20%, and for visual arts and/or music 5 to 10%. The total time allocated for the main specialism, secondary specialism and Baccalaureate essay is 15 to 25%.

In most cantons, there are Baccalaureate schools at which a bilingual Baccalaureate can be obtained. In addition, students can often obtain international foreign language certificates, or enrol in preparatory courses for the certificate examinations.

Assessment of students

The cantons regulate the assessment of students. The assessment is oriented towards the curriculum's learning objectives. On the basis of the learning objectives, the teacher determines which knowledge and skills the students must achieve and is responsible for the assessment. Performance is assessed by means of a grade scale of 1 to 6 (6 = best grade, 4 = sufficient, below 4 = insufficient). At the end of a semester or school year, a graded report is issued, which is decisive regarding transition to the next grade. Learning reports are seldom used.

Leaving certificate

At the end of the Baccalaureate programme, a written Baccalaureate examination, which may also be supplemented by oral examinations is taken in at least five Baccalaureate subjects. The examination subjects are the first language, a second national language, mathematics, the specialised subject and one further subject. The Baccalaureate grades are determined by:

  • the performance in the examination subjects and the performance during the final year of education

  • the performance in the remaining subjects during the last year of education in which the respective subject was taught

  • the assessment of the Baccalaureate essay

The Baccalaureate essay is a larger self-directed piece of work, which the students develop and present. It is usually written in the penultimate or final year of Baccalaureate programme. The Federal Council's Ordinance on Recognition of Baccalaureate (MAV) respectively the Regulation on Recognition of Baccalaureate (MAR) issued by the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK) regulate the norms for obtaining a Baccalaureate. The Baccalaureate basically entitles the holder to enrol directly in cantonal universities, Federal Institutes of Technology (FIT) and universities of teacher education. For universities of applied sciences, additional requirements are to be fulfilled.

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Last update of this page: 26.07.2021