Unlike the North American system in which students work toward a high school diploma, AFSA students earn two diplomas: the Brevet des Colleges, awarded at the end of the 9th grade, and the French Baccalaureate, awarded at the end of the 12th.
To receive the “Brevet,” students take a mandatory exam given by an official French Examination Center. (There are locations in the U.S. and Canada.) Their scores on this test, combined with their performance in the 8th and 9th grades, determine whether they will receive the diploma.
In contrast, the “Bac” is based solely on test scores. It is taken in two stages through an examination center. The first portion of the test, which covers French Language Arts and the Sciences for students in literary and economics tracks, is taken at the end of the 11th grade. The remaining subjects are covered by a second exam at the end of the 12th grade. Students with passing scores are awarded the French Baccalaureate, whose requirements are more stringent than a North American high school diploma.
Bilingual speakers may choose to pursue the International Option of the French Baccalaureate (OIB). The OIB offers a French/American bilingual/bicultural program in which students take intensive English literature and history/geography courses and are tested in English in these subjects.
Recently, the French Ministry of Education announced plans to offer a new degree option to North American students. The new French-American Baccalaureate will combine the rigor of the traditional Bac with a greater emphasis on English literature and North American civics and history. Additional information on the new degree will be available here soon.