Finnish Matriculation Examination / Matriculation Certificate in Finland

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)

Examination Structure

The Finnish Matriculation Examination consists of a minimum of five tests; one of them, the test in mother tongue and literature and compulsory for all candidates. The student then has to complete 4 more tests which have to belong to at least three different groups:
  • Mathematics
  • Second national language
  • Foreign language
  • Humanities and Natural Sciences
At least one of the tests must be the test of the advanced syllabus level of the subject.

As part of their examination, the candidate may include one or more additional tests. Additional tests are of equal value with the five required tests. 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. The examination languages are Finnish and Swedish.

Description of the Matriculation Examination


The mother tongue test is arranged in the Finnish, Swedish and Sami language.

The Finnish and Swedish tests have two parts: the textual skills test and the essay test. They are organised on separate days, and the time for sitting each test is six hours. The weighted sum of points determines the candidate’s grade on the mother tongue test. If the candidate does not complete either one of the tests, the mother tongue test is considered discontinued and failed. Thus a candidate cannot divide the two tests into separate examination periods.

In the Sami language, only an essay test is arranged.

The textual skills test measures the candidate’s analytical skills and linguistic expression. The essay test focuses on the candidate’s general level of education, development of thinking, linguistic expression and coherence. In the textual skills test, the candidate is given material that consists of different literary texts, expository texts and artwork. On the basis of the material, the candidate answers two assignments out of four. The candidate may be asked to analyse the meanings, structures, expressions and context of the material, or to write a summary or a commentary. In the essay test, the candidate chooses one assignment out of a minimum of five assignments, and writes an essay according to instructions. The assignments include background material.

A candidate whose mother tongue is not Finnish, Swedish or Sami, or who uses sign language as first language, can replace the mother tongue test with the test of Finnish or Swedish as a second language. The test has sections for listening and reading comprehension and written production.

The candidate may also take the mother tongue test in Finnish or Swedish in place of the second national language test in that language.


The tests in the second national language (Swedish or Finnish) are arranged at advanced syllabus level and intermediate syllabus level. The foreign language tests in English, French, German, Russian and Spanish are arranged at advanced syllabus level and basic syllabus level. In addition, tests at basic syllabus level are arranged in Italian, Inari Sami, North Sami, Skolt Sami, Latin and Portuguese. The test in Latin is also organised at extended basic syllabus level which is not equivalent to the advanced syllabus level of the other foreign languages. Starting in autumn 2025, only the test at basic level will be organised.

In most languages the test consists of two parts, the listening comprehension test and the test of written comprehension and production, in which candidates will answer on the same day, during the same test period.

The tests in Inari Sami, North Sami, Skolt Sami, Latin and Portuguese do not include a listening comprehension test.

The test of written comprehension and production consists of three parts. Test items can be, for example, multiple-choice questions, cloze tests, open questions, summaries, and translation or description assignments. In tests of advanced syllabus level candidates also write an assignment of 700-1,100 characters (in the English and Finnish tests 700-1,300 characters). In tests of intermediate and basic syllabus level candidates write one shorter assignment (160-240 characters) and one longer assignment (300-450 characters).


Each subject in the field of humanities and natural sciences has its own test in the Matriculation Examination. Every examination period has two separate test days for the tests in humanities and natural sciences. On the first test day, candidates may take a test in psychology, philosophy, history, physics, or biology. On the second test day they may take a test in Evangelical Lutheran religion, Orthodox religion, ethics, social studies, chemistry, geography, or health education. The candidate can only sit one test a day, so they can take a maximum of two tests during one examination period. The maximum time for sitting a test is six hours.

The number of questions in a test depends on the subject. In physics, chemistry and biology, the candidate answers a maximum of seven questions out of eleven. In the rest of the subjects, the candidate answers a maximum of five questions out of nine.

In the digital tests in humanities and natural sciences, the maximum score is 120 points. The digital tests feature different modules that may include several questions and vary in type and complexity. Some questions may be compulsory. Test items may be traditional essay questions, multiple-choice questions, drawing assignments, data analyses, and combinations of these. Test items can also feature more diverse background material than in traditional paper tests. Questions may include text, pictures, videos, audio recordings, maps, animations and statistics. The maximum score for a test item will vary between 15 and 30 points.


The mathematics test is arranged at two different levels of difficulty; the advanced syllabus and the basic syllabus. The candidate may choose which level test to take, regardless of their studies at the upper secondary school.

The tests have 8-13 questions of which the candidate must complete 6-10 depending on the total amount of questions. Each question scores a maximum of twelve points. From autumn 2024 onwards, the test at basic syllabus level will also have some questions that score a maximum of 18 points. 

The tests have two parts: Part A and Part B. Part B is furthermore divided into two parts: Part B1 and Part B2. Both tests feature separate task booklets for Part A and Part B. Calculator may be used as aid in Part B but not in Part A.

At the beginning of the test, the candidate is given task booklets for both Part A and Part B. When the candidate returns the Part A booklet at the latest three hours after the start of the test, they are given a calculator. In Part B, the candidate is allowed to use any scientific calculator, graphing calculator or symbolic calculator that does not have a data transfer feature. The candidate may also consult a digital book of tables in both parts of the test.

Retaking Tests

A candidate who has passed a test may retake it as many times as they want. There is no time limit for retaking a test that has been passed. If the candidate retakes a test before they have been awarded a Matriculation Examination Certificate, the better grade will be entered on the certificate. 

A candidate who fails a test may retake the test three times in the course of three examination periods immediately following the examination period of the failed test.

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 AbbreviationCorresponding Points 
 Laudatur L 7
 Eximia Cum laude Approbatur E 6
 Magna cum laude approbatur M 5
 Cum laude approbatur C 4
 Lebenter approbatur B 3
 Approbatur A 2
 Improbatur I 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. 


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.

Contact Details


Postal address:
The Matriculation Examination Board
P.O. Box 380
FI-00531 Helsinki

Visiting address:
Hakaniemenranta 6

Opening hours: 8.00am–4.15pm on weekdays

Official Website:
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