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Higher secondary education around the world: what’s different and what’s the same?

The higher secondary stage of education covers years 11 and 12 in the UK and forms the ‘A’ Levels or pre-university foundation in many other countries around the world. The purpose of this article is to compare and contrast some of the key differences in higher secondary education worldwide, as well as discuss some of the more universal similarities.

United state

Higher Secondary education in our country can be both in high school and college, whereas in other countries it is either just in high school or only in college. Higher Secondary also goes by many other names such as Senior High School, Sixth Form College, or sometimes even A-Levels. There are also different words to describe students that study Higher Secondary: we call them high school students while others may call them seniors or Sixth formers. The most common time for Higher Secondary schooling is between ages 15 to 18. We do not have compulsory higher secondary education, but there are many courses and subjects you can take from Elementary school all the way up to college including English, mathematics, social studies (history), science (biology), arts (music), foreign languages, and physical education.


Higher secondary education in Germany, called Hauptschule, leads to two opportunities. Students can choose to go on a vocational school and earn a Mittlerer Schulabschluss or they can enter a general college to earn their Abitur. Both paths lead to higher education, but after Hauptschule you can only attend vocational schools. After finishing an apprenticeship at age 17, one may be accepted into a Fachhochschule. However, if you want to get into a university, it is necessary to graduate from higher secondary education first. Higher secondary education lasts four years and offers general studies with compulsory subjects such as mathematics, natural sciences, German language and literature, as well as languages other than German.

The students must achieve all core competencies for higher secondary education by passing standardized tests for each subject or diploma examination after 10th grade. The core curriculum provides knowledge that prepares students for entering higher-education institutions of their choice – whether it is higher vocational schools or universities – with a wide range of courses available in addition to mandatory courses

It also prepares them for working life through practical learning methods like apprenticeships



Higher secondary education in Russia is known as VGTS. This type of school is for students who are 16-18 years old. Schools usually offer courses in art, sciences, economics, and languages as well as more advanced mathematics and physics classes than a typical middle school offers. It is up to the student if he or she would like to focus on more vocational training such as cooking or nursing.

The content offered at Russian higher secondary schools varies depending on whether it is an academic or vocational program. In other words, someone might be studying programming while another person is pursuing a culinary degree. However, there are three core subjects that every student has to take which are Russian language and literature; history; a foreign language like English; natural sciences with either geography or biology


Higher secondary education is divided into two courses. The first lasts three years and includes courses such as mathematics, history, science, Japanese, art, and physical education. However, after three years of study in the lower course a student is allowed to opt for the upper course and will have to choose a science subject for example mathematics, economics, or natural sciences if they plan on studying that type of subject in a tertiary level like in university.


Higher secondary schools are the equivalent of high school in Canada. High school is sometimes referred to as Secondary I, Secondary II or Grades 10-12. Higher secondary institutions offer courses in a wide variety of fields, including trades, technology, and sciences.

The two most common forms of higher secondary education in Canada are publicly funded junior colleges (known as collegiates) and public universities (also called universities). Both kinds offer students a number of benefits – such as good career preparation – but also present opportunities for competition for limited spaces.

A lot has changed since the days when Canadians attended school between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, with Saturdays off.


What is a higher secondary school? Higher secondary schools are also known as the upper or second stage of schooling. The purpose of this level of schooling is to equip you with skills in languages, mathematics, sciences, and humanities (literature and social studies), as well as promote creativity. What do you study in a higher secondary school? You can choose from a diverse range of courses to study. You can choose from courses such as English Literature, Computer Science, and Data Communication in ITE. The HSC includes core curriculum subjects like History, Mathematics I, and Chemistry I for those who want to take them. What does higher secondary education look like in Singapore?

New Zealand

In New Zealand, there are a variety of high school subjects students can choose from. There are subjects such as English, Mathematics, Science, Health Education, Technology or Design. Although there is no mandatory subject requirement to progress on to University level courses after completing NCEA Level 3, the most common pathway for many students is Bachelor’s degree in law, business, and sciences. At this point, international qualifications are required. Countries with similar systems of higher secondary education include Argentina (Collegiate Education), Norway (Vestadgangsskule), and Denmark (Stx).


In higher secondary education, there are many ways for students to acquire knowledge. There is no standard answer to which type of school works best; instead, it depends on who you are as an individual. Some people may prefer homeschooling while others may find a high school more suitable. What’s important is that all students have the opportunity to go through higher education because higher education can have such a powerful impact on people and their future careers.



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