Upper secondary school

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The gymnasiale Oberstufe (GOSt / GOS) in the education system of Germany comprises the upper grades of the upper secondary level of the grammar school , the vocational grammar school (also: technical grammar school ) and the comprehensive school and leads from the secondary school qualification ( intermediate maturity ) to the Abitur (general university entrance qualification ). The school-based component for acquiring the technical diploma can also be completed in it.

The last two years of the upper level of the gymnasium are also referred to as the reformed upper level or college level (the latter in Bavaria) following the reform of the Kultusministerkonferenz - Reform of July 7, 1972 . It replaced the upper level of the Saarbrücken framework agreement from 1960.

In the shortened form of the Gymnasium (G8) , the upper level of the Gymnasium comprises grades 10 to 12 or (in Bavaria and Saxony, among others) 11 and 12, in the longer form (G9) grades 11 to 13.

Years 10 or 11 are viewed in some countries as a one-year introductory phase, which mostly takes place in class . Grades 11 and 12 or 12 and 13 are the two-year qualification phase (also: qualification phase) that is organized in the course system and at the end of which there is a final examination in four or five subjects .

Historical development

In the Hamburg Agreement adopted by the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs in 1950, a provision was included for the first time that allowed the federal states to “make educational attempts that deviate from the basic structure of the agreement”. As a result, school trials were carried out in many countries which (among other things) dealt with changes to the structure and content of the upper level. A prominent example is the Buxtehude model developed at the Halepaghen School in Buxtehude in the late 1960s , which provided essential impulses for the course selection system of the reformed upper school .

Since the gradual introduction from 1972 onwards, the Standing Conference (KMK) has changed the course system several times. From the beginning there were differences between the countries . So were advanced courses triple initially, and later double-weighted in the evaluation introduced. Mathematics and German could be partially deselected , history completely. In North Rhine-Westphalia a foreign language was temporarily sufficient , and an examination in religion could replace science . The most recent reforms aimed at strengthening basic education and reduced the number of options. Criticism was directed, for example, against the arbitrary choice of courses, against the lack of consideration for the necessities of later studies or against the loss of the class as a socialization authority.

In 1995, it was decided to strengthen the “competencies in German, mathematics and foreign languages ​​that are essential for the Abitur graduates' ability to study by means of corresponding document and contribution obligations”.

The course system remains under strong criticism. It is complicated and expensive because there are many small courses. It leads to too much specialization in advanced courses and anticipation of university material. Due to a lack of basic education, it does not create any real general ability to study. This manifests itself in the high dropout rates of the students and the need to catch up on school material in the basic course.

The trend towards turning away from the course system in some federal states is also indicated by the fact that the term “course” is no longer used in the 2006 version of the KMK's upper level agreement for the first time. Furthermore, the reference was deleted that the upper level of the Gymnasium should enable “an individual setting of priorities according to the individual inclinations and abilities of the students”. "With this [...] the course system [...] will be abolished in favor of a return to the classroom as a whole."

The upper level of the Gymnasium is currently being reformed in all countries. With the exception of Rhineland-Palatinate, it now often differs from the model of the reformed upper level and produces more and more country-specific features that increasingly call into question nationwide comparability. Some countries have decided to introduce an upper profile level . More detailed descriptions can be found, for example, in the article about the Abitur in the respective federal state; see navigation bar Abitur in the federal states of the Federal Republic of Germany .


Introductory phase

In the introductory phase (orientation level) before the course system, classes can still be taught, especially if it is in the 10th grade. There can also be a mixed form of classroom instruction and courses . Only certain subjects can then be chosen in courses; In some federal states there are also advanced courses to get to know their way of working and, under certain circumstances, to change again.

Qualification phase

The qualification phase (also: qualification phase) is taught exclusively in the course system. The classes are replaced by courses in the subjects that can be chosen by all students of the same grade. Students select according to certain specifications of three task fields ( linguistic - artistic , social studies and mathematics - natural sciences ), two (in some states three) credit course compartments , each with four or five and eight to ten basic course subjects for any two, three or four hours a week. There are minimum requirements for German, mathematics, foreign languages ​​and natural sciences. Even physical education is mandatory.

Courses can therefore not be chosen or deselected at will. However, it is possible to focus on individual interests and talents. This serves a broader exploitation of the existing talent reserves in order to achieve higher qualifications in society. There is also no legal connection between the choice of advanced courses and the later study options. The higher education entrance qualification achieved is general. In terms of the knowledge acquired, there is definitely such a connection: Without qualified mathematics, for example, many courses of study cannot be completed successfully.

There is no transfer within the qualification phase. After the 11th or 12th year, the students automatically go to the 12th or 13th year. However, some students voluntarily resign if admission to the Abitur examination should be jeopardized due to too many deficit / under-courses (courses with less than five points) or failed courses (courses with zero points). The qualification phase is divided into four (course) semesters or semesters , with grades 11 and 12 being divided into the first and second semesters and grades 12 and 13 into the third and fourth semesters.

Basic and advanced courses

Basic courses

Basic courses (GK) convey basic scientific ways of thinking and working and introduce basic facts and problem complexes in a subject. They are usually taught two, three or four hours a week. In some countries, for example Lower Saxony or Schleswig-Holstein, the terms basic and advanced course have been abolished. Basic courses are now called courses with / at the basic requirement level (gA) ; Advanced courses are now referred to as courses with / at an increased level of difficulty (eA) .

Advanced courses

Advanced courses (LK) function as orientation subjects in the introductory phase, and as real advanced courses only in the qualification phase. The orientation subjects in the introductory phase are often incorrectly referred to by the students as advanced courses (there are, however, exceptions, for example: vocational high school ). Orientation subjects provide advanced knowledge and insights into the content, theories and models of the relevant specialist field . A special focus was placed on the ability to deal independently with work equipment and methods as well as their transfer and reflection. In principle, a lot can be transferred to other subjects. Advanced courses are usually taught five hours a week.

In many federal states, however, the advanced courses have now been abolished and replaced by subjects with increased requirements (abbreviation in Lower Saxony: eN4), which are taught four hours a week. For this, three instead of two subjects are now chosen, which are taught at a higher level.

Abitur examination and grade

The Abitur examination is taken in writing or orally in the advanced courses and two or three basic courses that can be selected within a limited framework. As a result, you have to set clear priorities in the last school years. The individual provisions differ depending on the country. With the exception of Rhineland-Palatinate, all federal states are now conducting a central Abitur or have at least planned to do so.

In addition to 22 basic course half-year achievements, the eight advanced course grades and the four to five high school examination grades are included in the Abitur grade. The average grade therefore depends on performance that is achieved over a period of two years, and not just on the final examination, one third of which is involved in it.

Performance evaluation

In the upper level of the Gymnasium, the basis for assessing student performance is based on the exams and other services provided (participation, homework, etc.). The previous grading system up to intermediate level with school grades 1 to 6 will be replaced by a points system (0 to 15 points) at the latest in the qualification phase, which corresponds to grades from 1+ to 6 and thus enables detailed grades. The points are added up and converted into the average grade at the end. In addition to greater transparency and fairness , the purpose of the point system lies above all in the possible use of the exact average grade in university admissions procedures in order to prevent legal actions by rejected applicants. On the other hand, it is not permitted to apply it too early before the upper level of the gymnasium, as grades up to the 10th grade are primarily educational.

The following table applies in all federal states with the exception of only a minimal difference in Hesse:

Points Note in words Grade (with tendency) Raw points Note definition comment
15th very good 1+ 95% The services particularly meet the requirements.
14th 10 90%
13 1− 85%
12 Well 2+ 80% The services fully meet the requirements.
11 20 75%
10 2− 70%
9 satisfying 3+ 65% The services correspond to the requirements in general.
8th 30 60%
7th 3− 55%
6th sufficient 4+ 50% The services show deficiencies, but on the whole still meet the requirements.
5 4th0 45%
4th weak sufficient 1 4− 39% The services show deficiencies and only meet the requirements with restrictions. 1 deficit area
3 inadequate 5+ 33% The services do not meet the requirements, but show that the necessary basic knowledge is available and the deficiencies can be remedied in the foreseeable future.
2 50 27%
1 5− 20%
0 insufficient 6th0 00% The services do not meet the requirements and even the basic knowledge is so incomplete that the deficiencies cannot be remedied in the foreseeable future. not used

1 = Contrary to the official definition of the grade “poorly sufficient”, a course with this grade is not considered passed; the services do not meet the requirements.

The Abitur examination is passed if at least the average grade 4.0 is achieved. To do this, five points are required in each course. Course grades under five points can be offset by more grade points in other courses, but depending on the country, only a limited number of sub-courses (courses with one to four points) may be included in the overall qualification. Depending on the country, the maximum number is four to six in the basic course area and three in the advanced course area. A course with zero points (“unsatisfactory”) is considered “not taken” and cannot be taken. In the case of compulsory basic courses, this can lead to a failure of the Abitur. In the introductory phase you are forced to repeat the class if you have not taken two courses or if you have failed to perform in the transfer certificate. The Abitur cannot be passed with more than two sub-courses in the advanced course area or six sub-courses in the basic course area from the two years of the course phase. Further names for a course with zero points: under course , wrong course, deficit, failure or underperformance .

The points that are collected in the semester of the course are added together to form the overall qualification. An average grade is calculated from this total number of points. By convention, it is stipulated that the average cannot be better than 1.0, even if arithmetically the 15 points correspond to 0.66.

For the conversion into an average grade, the points achieved are divided by the number of ratings . For the Abitur this is 168 and for the Fachabitur 57. In order to then calculate the average grade, it is assumed that a smooth 1 corresponds to a grade of 1.0, a smooth 2 to a grade of 2.0 and so on. A 1+ then corresponds to a 0.66. To achieve such a grade, subtract the calculated average score of 5.66. This results in the following formula:

or for the technical diploma:

The grade is cut off after the first digit after the comma. It is not rounded. The grade values ​​from 0.9 down to 0.6 correspond to 1.0.

Average grade in the Abitur

The average grade in the Abitur is calculated depending on the contribution obligation in the various countries using different formulas and grading scales.

Formula for calculating the grade point average


12 points (2+) in mathematics, 11 points (2) in German, 10 points (2−) in English:

The upper secondary school level in other countries


In Austria, the AHS upper level (AHS: general education higher school), which corresponds to the German upper level, begins in the 5th grade (9th grade). In general, from the 9th grade onwards, another foreign language - often Latin , French or Italian , less often ancient Greek , Russian , Spanish or a neighboring language - is taught. For the 6th grade (10th grade) compulsory elective subjects must be specified. Depending on the school-autonomous regulations, these are at least between six and eight additional hours per week, divided over three years. A distinction is made between in-depth and advanced elective subjects. Expanding is understood to mean all subjects that are not otherwise taught, especially languages, but also computer science . In-depth elective subjects are taught in addition to normal lessons in this subject and are important for the Matura . A Matura examination must be taken in a more in-depth elective subject, interdisciplinary (e.g. English and history), in addition (in combination with a foreign language or computer science or over a one-year elective subject ) or through a separate departmental thesis.

For the 7th grade (11th grade) you can choose between music education and visual education as well as performing geometry , the natural science branch (increased teaching in biology , physics and chemistry ) and a possible school-autonomous alternative. Descriptive geometry or physics and biology are school subjects. As with any selection of alternate items, enough students must sign up to open a branch.


In Switzerland, the German upper school level corresponds roughly to the second half of the (usually) four-year short-term high school (9th to 12th school year). However, a clear separation between the two halves is not evident in many schools, especially in school systems in which the pupils choose a specialization subject when they enter the 9th grade . The structure of the Swiss education system varies greatly from canton to canton.


The Liechtenstein Gymnasium in Liechtenstein is to be equated with the German upper secondary school. It lasts four years (grades 9–12). The total number of hours in the upper school is 140. The students are taught 35 hours a week per school year. Five different profiles are offered. There are at least two profile subjects per profile, one of which is taught with a significantly higher number of hours per week. The lessons are made up of a number of basic subjects that are the same for all students (29 hours per week in the first and second years, 26 hours per week in the third and fourth years), namely several profile subjects depending on the profile selected (six or five hours per week) and from compulsory elective courses in the third and fourth year, which are intended to counteract the specialization through the profiles (four hours per week). Several basic subjects are mandatory for all students. Some subjects are only taught in individual grades.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: upper level  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Archive link ( Memento from April 11, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  2. http://www.landesrecht-bw.de/jportal/?quelle=jlink&query=SchulG+BW+%C2%A7+8&psml=bsbawueprod.psml&max=true
  3. http://www.gymnasium.bayern.de/gymnasialnetz/oberstufe/grundlagen/lehrplan/
  4. http://www.schule.sachsen.de/2839.htm
  5. ↑ For a definition of the grammar school, see Section 4 (2) Hamburg Agreement ( Memento from October 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  6. On the history of the KMK. On: kmk.org.
  7. Hans-Werner Fuchs: The high school upper level: Basic lines of their historical development. In: Josef Keuffer, Maria Kublitz-Kramer : What does the upper school need? Diagnosis, support and independent learning. Beltz 2008, pp. 43-44.