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Schéma général du système éducatif français

"General scheme of the French education system"
École maternelle
Nursery school; ages 3-6
École primaire
Primary school; ages 6-11
Secondary school/Middle School; ages 11-15; 6th-9th grade (6ème-3ème)
Diplôme National du Brevet
School certificate earned to move on to high school or other paths
Lycée général et technologique
General and Technological High School; 10th, 11th, and 12th grade (Seconde, Première, et Terminale)
BAC général et Technologique
Extremely difficult test taken in order to qualify for graduation from high school into a university
Lycée professionnel
Vocational High School; 10th, 11th, and 12th grade (Seconde, Première, et Terminale)
BAC professionnel
Extremely difficult test taken only to graduate from high school and start a career
Certificat d'aptitude professionnel
Certificate of professional training, CAP; takes 2 years to complete
Brevet d'etudes professionnelles
Professional patent studies, BEP; takes 2 years to complete
Classes préparatoires
Courses taken after passing BAC to prepare for the "concours"; taken for 2 years
Competitive examination taken in order to get into "grandes écoles" after taking preparatory classes
Grandes Écoles
Universities of polytechnics, engineering, commerce, and management which require the "concours"
Regular university taken after BAC; for 3 years to obtain license, for 5 years to obtain master's degree, and for 8 years to obtain doctorate degree
Institut universitaire de technologie
IUT taken after BAC; take for 2 years to obtain a Higher Technician Certificate ("Brevet de technicien supérieur"; BTS)