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Finnish Matriculation Examination

The Finnish high school or general upper secondary school (lukio) ends with a “Finnish Matriculation Examination” (ylioppilastutkinto). The Matriculation Examination was first organised in Finland in 1852 and the Matriculation Examination Board is in charge for managing and executing the examination.  Pupils are prepared for this exam from their very first day at the upper secondary school. The exam is conducted at the end of 3 year general upper secondary education. The results of this exam are crucial for admittance to post-secondary educational institution. 

Purpose of Examination

The main aim of the exam is to find out whether students have grasped knowledge and skills required by the course for the lukio and whether they have attained an acceptable maturity level conforming to that school's objectives. 

Dates and Deadlines

The Finnish Matriculation Examination is held twice a year: 

  • In every autumn in September 
  • In every spring between the early February and the end of March

Acts Regulating the Examination

  • Section 18 (766/2004) of the Upper Secondary School Act
  • Act on the Organisation of the Matriculation Examination (672/2005) 
  • Government Decree on the Matriculation Examination (915/2005)

Examination Structure

It is mandatory to take at least four tests in order to finish the exam; out of which the test in the candidate’s mother tongue is mandatory for all candidates.

Mother Tongue Test

It evaluates students’ skills in their first language and is mandatory for all. The mother tongue can be- Swedish, Finnish, or Sami

Three Remaining Compulsory Tests

The three remaining compulsory tests can be selected from the following: 

Second national language Test

 It can be Finnish or Swedish and there are two levels- intermediate and advanced
  •  Intermediate level: It is based on the course of study of the second national language which begins in grade 7
  • Advanced level: This level is based on the syllabus of the language that the pupils have studied since elementary/basic school

Mathematics Test

There are two levels- basic and advanced
  • Basic level: This level focuses on calculations useful in daily life.
  • Advanced level: This level consists of courses that prepare pupils for higher education in the scientific field. 

Foreign Language Test

It can be French, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Russian, Sami, Italian, and Latin. There are two levels in this test- basic and advanced
  • Basic level: This level is for students who have studies at least three courses in upper secondary school
  • Advanced: This level is based on the syllabus of the language that the pupils have studied since elementary/basic school 

General Studies Battery 

The general studies battery of tests that consist of science and humanities subject topics. 
  • Science: Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  • Humanities: Social Studies, History, Geography, Health Education, Psychology, Religion, Philosophy, and Ethics.
Pupils can also select additional/optional tests as well. 

Descriptions of the Tests

Mother Tongue Test

The mother tongue test is organised in Sami, Finnish and Swedish. The Finnish and Swedish tests have two sections: 
  • A textual skills part: This part assesses the candidates analytical and language skills.
  • An essay:  It concentrates on the candidate's basic level of education, thinking and language abilities. 
The candidate's grade on this test is determined by the weighted average points.

A candidate whose mother tongue is not Swedish, Sami or Finnish can replace the mother tongue test with the Swedish or Finnish second language test. These two tests consists of two sections:
  • Reading comprehension
  • Written production 

Second National Language Tests and Foreign Language Tests

The foreign language tests and the second national language test consists of two parts:
  • Listening and reading comprehension: It tests the candidates understanding abilities. 
  • Written Production: It tests the candidates writing language skills

Mathematics Tests

In this test, candidates are required to solve 10 questions. They can use books of tables and calculators to solve the problems. 

General Studies Battery Test

 This test consists of tests in history, Evangelical Lutheran religion, physics, biology Orthodox religion, ethics, chemistry, philosophy, geography, psychology, social studies, and health education. Depending on the test, candidates are required to answer 6-8 test items.

Retaking Tests

Passed test: A candidate who has passed a test can retake it once without any time limit and the better grade of the two-“passed” or “passed retaken” will be entered on the Matriculation Examination Certificate. 

Failed test: A candidate can retake a failed test twice within the next 3 exam periods.  

Scoring and Results

The exams are supervised by the local teachers. These teachers then forward their initial evaluation of the exam. All the tests are assessed by the members of the National Matriculation Examination Board. 
Candidates get a grade in each of the tests separately. There are 7 grades for each test along with their Latin names and are given to the candidates as per the Gaussian bell curve, i.e.  a certain percentage of the pupils always get the highest grade. 

 Grade Grade Abbreviation Percentage of Students receiving itCorresponding Points 
 Laudatur L 5% 7
 Eximia Cum laude Approbatur E 15% 6
 Magna cum laude approbatur M 20% 5
 Cum laude approbatur C 24% 4
 Lebenter approbatur B 20% 3
 Approbatur A 11% 2
 Improbatur I 5% 0

Matriculation Examination Certificate

After passing all compulsory tests, candidates get a matriculation examination certificate that contains the grades for each test, official stamp and signature of the president of the Matriculation Examination Board, and the examination time when all the compulsory tests have been passed. 

Re-evaluation

A candidate who is not satisfied with his or her test evaluation may ask the Matriculation Examination Board to recheck the evaluation. If the Board finds any error in the evaluation, it is corrected.
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