Monday, June 20, 2011

Le Baccalauréat

French exams are really hard!!!

The front of the high school, looking up, this was on my right.
This morning, at 8:00am, I arrived at school like any other normal school day. 
Looking down from the entrance to the high school, this was on my left.
Normally I get to school at a quarter to eight, to be there on time and to have a little time to chat with my friends before the bell rings.  Then when the bell rings, I complain a little about having to climb the 3 story hill to get into the high school and then the huge staircase that leads to the main hall, and then, depending where I have first class, I have to climb even more stairs!!

The staircase!
Also, just to let you know, the French school system is nothing like the American system, I did a whole school project ( a six month thing for the BAC ) on this exact subject.
I can go into more detail on that later if you want.  If you ever want any more information on France, what life is like, the food, the people, the government, the weather I don't know, just anything you want, feel free to comment on my blog posts and ask any questions that you want, if there is anything you guys don't understand, tell me!!  I am here to share my experience with you and I LOVE talking, so ask away ;)

In France, at the end of Junior and Senior year there are exams that are all part of the Baccalauréat, or BAC.  So, everything that we learn in class is to pass the BAC, I mean everything, the methods and how to write an essay, how to analyze certain documents.  We learn it all so that we can pass the BAC at the end of the year.  The BAC is to get into college, if you don't have your BAC or if you bomb it, you have to stay back a year, and retake it.  There is not too much you can do after high school if you are French and don't have the BAC.  I mean there are many different kinds of BACs, but it is not the same exam for everyone. For the different tracks in general high schools it is S (scientific), ES (economics and social) and L (litterary), and they all have different exams for the BAC.

Some of the exams are the same, for example today I took the BAC de Français (French written language) and it was the same for the S and ES tracks everywhere in France.

To pass the BAC at the end of the year, the students get out about a week before their exams to study on their own.  That means that my last day of school was June 14th, and my exam was today, on the 22nd and on July 4th.  So I stopped going to school a week ago but I still had to work and study hard during the week that followed.

My friend and I in the entrance
In this case, I think that I am allowed to say that I prefer the American system over the French system, because for the last ten years of my life, when school lets out, well, school lets out, that means that it is summer, I can relax, no more school for three months!! But here it was more like, last day of school that means that I have to study like crazy for the next two weeks until my exams are done! I geuss it's kind of like college, but I liked it in my American high school, because we had our final exams the two days before the last day of school, so it was two days of exams, and then school was out!!

I had to come back to the high school today to take the exam.  Plus, it was a four hour exam! I barely finished on time!  I was like, of course I'll have more than enough time to read carefully the texts and answer the short question ( a good paragraph or two) and then the essay (six pages!!).

Two friends and I outside
The other students started finishing around 10:45-11:00 and I was like, oh my gosh!! I am still not done with my draft! When I was half way done with my final copy, I looked around me and there were 5 people left. I was the last person to finish, by a good five minutes, but the teachers who were supervising us were really nice and talked to me after about the exam and the fact that I am American.  I had to finish writing so fast that I had a really bad hand cramp after, it even hurts to be typing this fast!!

I am just glad that it is over and now I have to get to studying for the next exam, it is science this time on Wednesday, at least it is only an hour and a half :) we have the same signs in the USA?
Well, I hope you have enjoyed reading about the great adventures that I have had in the French school system this year.  I could put up a whole blog post just on the French system.  It is really interesting, and very different from the American system, that is without a doubt ;)
Well, until next time, and I cannot believe that I will be home in three weeks!!

1 comment:

  1. Bonne chance pour votre examen.

    It's not better or worse, just different. More like college, where you have a semester, then sometimes a week off (some places call it "reading week") and then a week of exams. But I guess it could be worse, it could be 4 VERY IMPORTANT exams all stacked together in a 28 hour period where you run frantic and cannot figure out what is more important to look at and prioritize. So it may be better than the system here if you look at it that way.

    Have a great week, and we'll see you soon.