What is the French Baccalauréat?
The French Baccalauréat, ‘le bac,’ is equivalent to A-levels and the IB in France, serving as an entry requirement for universities and colleges. It is studied from ages 15 to 18 and has recently undergone reforms, making it more similar to the IB but without the international component. This observation is nuanced for students in French schools in London, given their exposure to an international environment. It’s important to note that the extent of this exposure varies greatly amongst London French schools, depending on whether or not they offer a bilingual curriculum.
How does it work?
Students cover core subjects (History, Geography, two foreign languages, Science, and Sports) and choose three specialist subjects, dropping one before taking an exam in Première (Year 12). Specialist subjects may include Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Economics, Language and Literature of a Foreign Language, History, Geopolitics, Political Sciences and Digital and Computer Sciences.
The French Baccalauréat combines ongoing assessments and final examinations. Ongoing assessments focus on History, Geography, foreign languages, Science, Physical Education, and the chosen speciality subject, contributing 30% to the final grade throughout Years 12 and 13. Teachers also administer tests for mandatory subjects, accounting for 10% of the final grade.
In Year 11, students take the French language and literature final exam in June, which tests their written skills and oral presentation. They also take an exam on the speciality subject they chose to drop. In Year 13, final written exams are held for History, Geography, foreign languages, Science, Philosophy, and the remaining specialist subjects. Oral exams in foreign languages and the Grand Oral constitute the remaining 60% of students’ final grades.
Some schools offer the Baccalauréat Français International International (BFI), which includes a greater focus on a foreign language and culture. Some French schools also offer the IB, as well as the French Baccalauréat and the BFI, so students can choose which route to take. Please read our blog on Why Study the International Baccalaureate?
Where can I study with a French baccalauréat?
The French Baccalauréat is recognised globally amongst universities and colleges. However, it’s important to note that the reputation of the school may be considered by highly selective universities when setting entry requirements. It’s advisable to research the specific universities where students from a particular school plan to apply. When applying to university, ensure you are aware of the required Baccalaureat grade level.
For more information on French schools in London, please read our blogs on Ecole Jeannine Manuel, on Registration to Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle: A Guide and on A French Bilingual Education in London.
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