High-school pupils in Szczecin, Poland, waiting to write a matura exam in 2005

Matura or a similar term (matur, maturita, maturità, Maturität, матура) is the common name for the high-school leaving exam or "maturity exam" in various countries, including Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland, as well as among Ukrainian emigrés. It is taken by young adults (usually aged 18 or 19) at the end of their secondary education, and generally must be passed in order to apply to a university or other institution of higher education.


Names and equivalents

In the Czech Republic it is officially called maturitní zkouška, in Slovakia maturitná skúška, in Poland egzamin maturalny, in Italy it used to be called esame di maturità and now esame di Stato, in Austria Reifeprüfung ("examination of maturity"), but matura is used colloquially in these five countries. In Hungary, the same system is used, but it is called érettségi (vizsga) ("examination of maturity"), the equivalent of matura and in Israel it is called bagrut. In Bulgaria, the official name is държавни зрелостни изпити (darzhavni zrelostni izpiti, "state maturity examinations"), but the name матура (matura) is almost always used instead.

The exam is usually taken after 12 or 13 years of schooling. Each candidate who passes their final exams receives a document that contains their grades and which formally enables them to go to a university. In countries such as Austria and Slovenia, this document alone allows entry to any university, as the grades themselves are irrelevant; whereas in other countries there can be numerus clausus, meaning that certain standards need to be met in the Matura grades before acceptance at a university.

The equivalent British term is the GCE "Advanced Level" or "Advanced Highers Scottish", the Irish is "Leaving Certificate", the German is "Abitur", or simply "Abi", the French is "le baccalauréat", or simply "le bac" and the Romanian is "bacalaureat". In Swiss French, it is called La Maturité or, informally, "La Matu'". In South Africa, the equivalent is the Senior Certificate or Matric examination. For other equivalents, see List of secondary school leaving certificates.

Matura in Albania

The official name is 'Matura Shtetërore' (State Matura) which was introduced in 2006 by the Ministry of Education and Science replacing the school based Provimet e Pjekurisë (Maturity Examination). The Matura is the obligatory exam one must pass after finishing the gjimnaz (secondary school) to have one's education formally recognized and to become eligible to enroll in universities. Vocational Schools are part of the Matura with a somehow different exam structure. The Matura is a centralized affair, conducted by the AVA (Central Evaluation Agency) which is in charge of selecting tasks, appointing national examiners, grading the sheets; the MoES (Ministry of Education and Science) does the general administration and logistics of the nationwide exams. A second Agency (APRIAL) modeled after the UK University & Colleges Admissions Service and the German Zentralstelle für die Vergabe von Studienplätzen is in charge for the admission to all Albanian (public so far) universities the applicants have applied for. The two compulsory subjects to complete secondary education are Albanian language and literature and mathematics. For being admitted in a university students must take two additional exams which they choose themselves out of a list of eight subjects. The Matura exams take place in three separate days usually in the June/July period. The two first days are for each of the compulsory subjects; the third day is for the two additional exams. The basic marks range from 1 to 10; for university admissions though a more complex system called MeP (Meritë-Preference) is used. The State Matura and the MeP replaced an admission system conducted individually by each faculty/university which was seen as abusive.

Matura in Austria

The official term for Matura in Austria is Reifeprüfung. The document received after the successful completion of the written and oral exams is called Maturazeugnis.

In the Gymnasium (AHS), which, as opposed to vocational schools, focuses on general education, the Matura consists of 3–4 written exams (referred to as Klausurarbeiten, four to five hours each) to be taken on consecutive mornings (usually in May) and three to four oral exams to be taken on the same half-day about a month later (usually in June). All examinations are held at the school which the candidate last attended. Candidates have the option to write a scholarly paper (called Fachbereichsarbeit) to be submitted at the beginning of the February preceding the final exams, which, if accepted, reduces the number of written exams by one. This paper also needs to be defended in the corresponding oral exam.

The grading system is the one universally used in Austrian schools: 1 (sehr gut) is excellent; 2 (gut) is good; 3 (befriedigend) is satisfactory; 4 (genügend) is passed and 5 (nicht genügend) means that the candidate has failed. In addition, a candidate's Maturazeugnis contains a formalized overall assessment: "mit ausgezeichnetem Erfolg bestanden" (pass with distinction: an average of 1.5 or better, no grade above 3), "mit gutem Erfolg bestanden" (pass with merit: an average of 2.0 or better, no grade above 3), "bestanden" (pass: no grade above 4); and "nicht bestanden" (fail: at least one grade 5). Candidates who have failed may re-take their exams in September/October or February/March of the following school year.

Compulsory subjects for the written finals are always German and Mathematics, as well as a foreign language (usually English, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin or sometimes Ancient Greek). Schools with a focus on science may require their students to take written finals in Biology or Physics .

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Austrian Matura is that it is a decentralized affair. There is only one external examiner: Candidates are set tasks both for their written and oral finals by their own (former) teachers. Formally, however, there is an examination board consisting of a candidate's teachers/examiners, the headmaster/headmistress and one external Vorsitzende(r) (head), usually a high-ranking school official or the head of another school. Oral exams are held publicly, but attendance by anyone other than a candidate's former schoolmates is not encouraged, and indeed rare.

It is, of course, possible for Austrians of all age groups to take the Matura. Adults from their twenties on are usually tutored at private institutions of adult education before taking their final tests, held separately before a regional examination board.

Matura in Bulgaria

In Bulgarian the matura is formally called Държавен Зрелостен Изпит (Romanization: Dârzhaven Zrelosten Izpit) or ДЗИ (DZI), but usually it is called simply матура. There is only one compulsory subject – Bulgarian Language and Literature, but students are required to select an additional subject of their choice; they can also request a third subject. Each exam consists of a single written test. The second subject must be chosen between:

  • A foreign language (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian)
  • Mathematics
  • Physics and astronomy
  • Biology and health education
  • Chemistry and environmental science
  • History and civilization
  • Geography and economics
  • cycle of "Philosophy"

In 2008, according to the statistics in the web site of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, 76013 students have registered for the Matura exams. Of them only 1748 students registered for a third, voluntary subject. Only 845 of them passed the third examination successfully. Because of the exam's challenging nature, students who request a third subject have a significant advantage in the university admissions process.

Matura in Croatia

Nationwide leaving exams (državna matura) were introduced for gymnasium students in the school year 2009–2010. There are three compulsory subjects: Croatian language (or Serbian, Hungarian, Italian or Czech for minorities), Mathematics and a foreign language (English, German, Italian, Spanish or French). Classical gymnasium students are also able to choose Latin or Ancient Greek instead of or in addition to a modern foreign language. The optional subjects will be Geography, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Computer science, History, Music, Visual arts, Ethics, Religious studies, Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Politics and Logics.

The compulsory subjects are also available at a basic or extended level with 1 point of the extended level exam being worth 1.6 points of the basic level exam. Points of the basic level are converted into points of the extended level by dividing them by 1.6, so a student achieving 100/100 points in the basic exam, in the end will only be given 62.5 points (100/1.6). The extended level offers the possibility of achieving 100 points but carries the risk of gaining a lower result due to the elevated difficulty level.

The examinations are conducted by the National centre for external evaluation of education (Nacionalni centar za vanjsko vrednovanje obrazovanja).

Further enrollment into university programmes is conducted via Internet. Lists of students with right to enrollment are processed by the central computer for each university based on the results of the exams. The points gained in the exams are converted into points for enrollment. Each university sets its own criteria of valuing these exams depending on the area of science or art which is taught, for example, a student enrolling in a Philosophy programme will have 0% or 5% of points for enrollment extracted from his Mathematics exam, but up to 80% from Croatian so if the result of the Math test is excellent, but the Croatian test is bad, the student's chances are reduced because only 5% will be extrapolated from the excellent Math test an a large 80% percent from the slim result in Croatian, giving the student a lower sum of enrollment points. However, the same student may apply to a Mathematics programme and will be given points based on the very same exams, but a different percentage will be extrapolated, giving advantage to Mathematics. In the end the final 100% percent must be extrapolated from the exams, but the exams themselves are set by the universities. In general, the universities demand the three compulsory exams (Croatian, Math, Foreign language) to be passed (although can have 0% percent extrapolated as points for enrollment) along with one optional subject that is generally given higher attention (up to 70%). Each student has the right to attempt to enroll into a maximum of ten universities, and when chosen the preferred university (or universities) is deleted from the lists of the other 9 (or 8, etc.) thus allowing other students to move up these lists and achieve the right of enrollment in their preferred university.

Matura in Hungary

The official term for Matura in Hungary is érettségi (vizsga). This happens usually after 12 or 13 years of schooling. Each candidate who passes their final exams receives a document that contains their grades and which formally enables them to go to a university.

Hungarian students have to take an exam of Hungarian literature and grammar, Mathematics, History, one foreign language and one subject of the student's choice (this can be anything that they have learned before).

In Hungary, the "examination of maturity" assesses knowledge in five grades: excellent (5), good (4), medium (3), pass (2), and fail (1). The UK GCE Advanced Level grade equivalent is: AAA or AAB (5), ABB or BBB (4), and BBC or BCC (3).

Maturità in Italy

The official name of the examination is now esame di Stato conclusivo del corso di studio di istruzione secondaria superiore (or esame di Stato), but it is still commonly called (diploma di) Maturità. This is the final exam for upper secondary school. One has to pass this test in order to be admitted to college/university.

Examining commissions are composed of three teachers of the student, three external teachers and an external president.

The test is divided into a written section and an interview section. The written section consists of three tests. The first one is Italian and is identical nation-wide: students are required to write an essay, an article on a given topic, but they can also choose to analyse and comment on a text (usually a poem). The second test changes according to the type of school the student attended, so it can be on a wide variety of different subjects, such as Pedagogy and Psychology, Mathemathics, Foreign Language, Latin, and Ancient Greek. Finally, the third test is about four selected subjects of the last year, and it is written by every single examining commission. The interview section is to assess that the student has really reached a personal and intellectual maturity concerning the various subjects of his or her last school year; the examining commission is not supposed to ask about every subject, but just to make sure that the candidate is able to discuss about a variety of themes explaining and justifying his or her opinion.

The scoring has been changed various times since 1969:

  • 1969–1998: pass score 36, ace score 60
  • 1999–2007: pass score 60, ace score 100 (45 + 35 + 20)
  • 2008: pass score 60, ace score 100 cum laude
  • 2009–present: pass score 60, ace score 100 cum laude (45 + 30 + 25)

The score is calculated by adding up:

(A) Credits: up to 25 points from internal school marks, the top score for students who receive average grades during their final three years of school is from 8 to 10.

(B) Written tests: the pass mark is from 30 points to 45 points. The candidate sits 3 written tests. For each test the passing mark is 10 points, the top mark is 15 points.

(C) Interview: the passing mark is from 20 points to 30 points.

(D) Bonus: an extra 5 points can be awarded to the candidate's final score by the examining commission. In order to get the extra 5 points, the (A) score must be at least 15 points, and the (B) + (C) score must be at least 70 points.

(A) + (B) + (C) + (D) = final score

For students who reach 100 points without any bonus, the commission can add the "lode" (cum laude) praise.

Matura in Macedonia

In Macedonia the matura is obligatory for every high school student who plans to continue to college. It is called матура (cyrilic equivalent to the latin matura). Every student who intents to pass Macedonian Matura is required to take four exams in:

  • Macedonian language (knowledge of Macedonian, European, World-wide literature + Macedonian grammar from all 4 years of high school).
  • Mathematics/Foreign language (students choose whether they will take Mathematics or a foreign language: English, German, French or Russian).
  • two subjects by student's choice
  • project task

Matura in Poland

A 2008 matura certificate (titled świadectwo dojrzałości, "certificate of maturity")

In the Polish education system, the exam is officially called egzamin maturalny, but it is commonly known as matura. It is taken on completion of high school, in May (with additional dates in June, and retakes available in August). The exam is not compulsory, although Polish students must pass it in order to be able to apply for higher education courses in Poland and elsewhere.

A major reform of the exam (originally enacted in 1999, although its introduction was delayed) came into effect as from 2005. Under the old system (popularly called stara matura) candidates' performance was assessed solely by teachers from their own schools. In the new system (nowa matura) written work is assessed by independent examiners. This is considered to make the results more objective, and as a result Polish higher education institutions no longer run entrance exams (as they did under the old system), but base their admissions primarily on matura results.

Every student taking the matura takes three compulsory exams at "basic level" (poziom podstawowy) in:

Candidates may also choose up to six additional exams. The available options include the above subjects at "extended level" (poziom rozszerzony), as well as exams at either level in biology, chemistry, knowledge of dance, geography, history, history of art, history of music, information technology, physics and astronomy, Latin and Ancient History, philosophy, another modern language, languages of ethnic groups in Poland (Belarusian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian), and the Kashubian language.

Exams in Polish language and other languages include both a written paper and an oral examination.

Results are currently expressed as percentages. To pass the matura it is necessary to score at least 30% in each of the three compulsory exams. The results of the additional exams do not affect whether a student passes, but are usually a factor when applying for higher education places.

The exams are conducted by the Central Examination Board (Centralna Komisja Egzaminacyjna; CKE) [1], assisted by a number of Regional Examination Boards (Okręgowa Komisja Egzaminacyjna; OKE). The same bodies also conduct tests for pupils completing primary school, and examinations at the end of middle school (gimnazjum).

A custom associated with the matura is the studniówka, a dance organized for students and their teachers approximately one hundred days before the examinations begin. Following a popular superstition, candidates (particularly female ones) wear red underwear at this dance, and then wear the same items for the exam itself, to bring luck.

Maturita in Slovakia

In Slovakia the maturita is formally called Maturitná skúška, but usually it is called simply maturita. There are only two compulsory subjects – Slovak language and literature and a foreign language. Since January 2011 English has become a compulsory subject on Slovak matura. Students from a gymnázium (a more difficult high school, not to be confused with German gymnasium) has to choose at least two additional subjects such as:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • History
  • Geography
  • Philosophy
  • Arts and cultures
  • Economics
  • Informatics and IT

The students can choose a level of matura from foreign language – B1(medium), B2(hard) or sometimes, on a linguist-specialized gymnázium school, C1 level(English level of Bachelor degree). If student has got an additional certificate from foreign language (IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, FCE), at least at level B1, he\she does not need to do the foreign language exam.

Matura in Slovenia

In Slovenia, the matura is an obligatory exam one must pass after finishing gimnazija (upper secondary school) to have one's education formally recognised and to become eligible to enrol in colleges and universities. It should not be confused with the poklicna matura (vocational leaving exam), which is the final examination at vocational schools and does not lead to university studies. Since there is no entrance examination at the vast majority of Slovenian universities programmes (notable exceptions are only art and music programmes, architecture studies and sports studies), the score on this exam is the main criterion for admission (grades achieved during studies also play a small part).

There has been a heated debate lately whether this leaving exam should once again be completely abolished. As of January 2007, the position of the Ministry of Education remains that the "matura" will still be the only way of completing secondary education. The decision on whether universities should introduce entrance examinations and reduce the importance of the leaving exam to a mere pass/fail has not been made yet.

The nation-wide leaving exam was reintroduced in Slovenia in 1994, after all upper secondary schools had been suspended in 1980s and reopened in 1991. The exam is conducted in two terms, the first one being in spring (May/June) and the second one in autumn (September). Due to the university admittance procedure, of which the first call concludes in July, applicants passing the exam in September have usually a very limited choice of university programmes for that year.

The leaving exam is a centralised affair, conducted by the National Examination Centre, which is in charge of selecting tasks, appointing national examiners, grading the sheets and sending the scores to all Slovenian universities the applicants have applied for.

It consists of three compulsory and two elective subjects. One must take Slovene (Italian or Hungarian for members of minorities), Mathematics and one foreign language (usually English, although French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Italian are provided, as well). The elective subjects can be chosen among all the other subjects, one has encountered during his schooling (Greek language, Latin language, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History or History of Art, Philosophy or Sociology or Psychology, Music or Graphic Arts, History of drama, Economics, Informatics, Biotechnology, Electrotechnics, Mechanics, Materials Science). It is possible to choose the second foreign language as one of the elective subjects.

Grading is somewhat complicated, as there exist three different criteria for different sets of subjects. Slovene is unique and is graded on scale of 1 to 8. It is possible to take mathematics and all foreign languages on a higher or basic level. Basic marks range from 1 to 5, whereas marks for the higher level are 1, 2, 4 (3+1), 6 (4+2) and 8 (5+3). The examinee may only take up to two subjects on the higher level (two foreign languages, or mathematics and one foreign language). All other subjects are graded from 1 to 5. The only failing score is 1; all other scores are passes. Thus, it is possible to gain from 10 to 34 points. Students who have achieved 30 or more points are awarded leaving exam diplomas cum laude and are usually congratulated by the president of Slovenia at a festive reception in September.

Structure of particular exams:

  • Mother tongue – Slovene (Hungarian or Italian for members of minorities respectively)
    • Sheet 1: Students write an essay (1000 words) on the two pieces of literature (in 2010: Prišleki by Lojze Kovačič, Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andreï Makine; in 2011: Ločil bom peno od valov by Feri Lainšček and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert). The national committee for Slovene (Državna predmetna komisija za splošno maturo za slovenščino) publishes the titles of the two works the examinees are expected to know one year ahead. This sheet represents 50% of the final score.
    • Sheet 2: Students are given an unknown text from a newspaper, magazine etc., followed by some 30 tasks, testing their ability to read, interpret, and understand the text. Also, students' knowledge of Slovene grammar, word-formation and spelling is tested. The last task is to form a certain type of text, being an invitation, a letter of complaint, biography etc. This sheet represents 30 % of the final mark.
    • Oral exam: A candidate is given three questions. The first two are related to the world literature, whereas the third asks about the historical development of literary Slovene from its beginnings in the year 1551 to the present. It is possible to gain 20%.

The final score is expressed in points from 1 (failure) to 8 (the highest standard of knowledge).

  • Mathematics

It is possible to take this subject on a higher or basic level.

    • Sheet 1: Students are given approximately ten tasks, evaluating their knowledge of different fields in mathematics. This sheet accounts for 53.3% (on a higher level) or 80% (on a basic level).
    • Sheet 2 (only on a higher level): Students are given three more difficult tasks. This sheet is worth 26.7%.
    • Oral exam: An examinee is given three questions, testing their ability to prove certain theorems or explain some mathematical axioms and definitions.

The final score is expressed in points from 1 (failure) to 5 (the highest mark on a basic level) or 8 (the highest mark on a higher level).

  • Foreign languages
  • Chemistry
  • Information technology, Computer science (separate)
  • Physics
  • Geography
  • History
  • Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology

Matura in the Ukrainian Diaspora

Matura is common in Ukrainian secondary education in the Ukrainian diaspora, specifically in the United States and Canada. It is usually run by Saturday Ukrainian Education schools sponsored by the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, which regulates and writes the various tests. Children of Ukrainian descent are tested on Saturdays during a month-long period toward the end of their Junior or Senior year of High School on their knowledge of Ukrainian Language, Geography, History, Culture, and Literature. Oftentimes, these tests are approved by local governments' accreditation standards as a second-language school which can, under certain circumstances, be applied to other schools.

See also

External links

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