Czech rep.: Mat. otázky číslo 2
The United States
4–6 years kindergarten /preschool program
6–10 / 12 years elementary / grade school
10–14 years junior high school / middle school
14–18 years high school
After 18 years college/university
Similar to other countries, little children start their education with kindergarten between
the ages of five and six. They are divided into groups and spend their time playing. Parents have to pay for this pre-school education.
Elementary/grade school formally starts their compulsory education, and covers five grades/years. The curriculum is determined by a particular school district but usually essential subjects include English, math and science.
Most children go to public schools without charge, or they have a choice of private schools, which they must pay for. Students are graded on a system of A-F; with A being the best and F meaning fail.
In grade six students go to junior high/middle school and in the ninth grade they change to high school. High school includes four grades. Each has a special name in American English. First year students are called freshmen, second year sophomores, then juniors and finally seniors. This usually lasts until students are 18-years-old, but some states allow children to leave school as young as 16.
Compared to other countries, most American students are in school much longer. High school offers academic lessons as well as more vocational courses such as mechanics, computers etc. Most of the testing takes place in the form of quizzes, essays and other projects. When students are juniors, they take the SAT test (Scholastic Aptitude Test). This four-hour test quizzes students on their language, writing, math and critical thinking skills, among other things.
The scores on this national test determine whether you succeed when applying to the
university of your choice. The completion of high school is celebrated with a graduation ceremony in which students dress in long gowns, receive their diplomas and toss their flat hats – called mortarboards – in the air. At the end of every school year students attend a dance, called the prom.
There are more than 2,000 universities and colleges ranging from private elite institutions such as Yale or Harvard, known as ‘Ivy League schools’, to state universities or local community colleges. There you can earn your Bachelor’s and then Master’s degree.
A Bachelor’s degree is designed to take four years, but some students take longer. This is also sometimes called your undergraduate degree. After that students continue with their education for about another two years to earn their graduate, or Master’s degree. If they really like studying, they can keep going and earn their PhD or doctorate.
5–11 Primary school
11–16 Secondary School
14–16 Studying towards GCSEs
16–18 Studying towards A levels
British children begin their schooling quite early; very small children aged three and four are sent to nursery school or a playgroup. At the age of five they have to start attending primary school which can be either state-funded or private. Both types of school have to follow a prescribed national curriculum. Primary school is divided into two cycles: infant schools where children acquire basic skills like writing, reading and maths. At seven they go on to junior school with more complex subjects such as history, geography and science.
The transfer to secondary school takes place at the age of 11. Here, pupils also have
to follow a national curriculum, including a foreign language and a broader range of subjects, taught by different teachers. At the age of 14 they start to study for their GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education) that consist of eight or nine exams in maths, English, a foreign language, a science and a humanities subject. Core subjects like maths and English are compulsory. Some pupils can enter more than nine GCSEs. At the age of sixteen, pupils are free to leave school. If they carry on with their education, they study for two more years in the sixth form in their school or in a sixth form college.
Usually, they take four subjects in the first year, which ends with an exam. If they pass,
they can go on to study three of them at A-Level (Advanced GCSEs).
If pupils don’t want an academic education after GCSEs, they can choose a vocational one. There are apprenticeships, where young people learn a trade as they work. There are also vocational courses, where pupils go to school and take exams in practical subjects such as mechanics or painting and decorating. Some students drop out altogether.
After the age of eighteen, most pupils find jobs or go to university. There are a lot of universities in the UK offering bachelor’s degrees for either three or four years. After receiving their degree, a person is a graduate and can pursue a master’s degree in science or arts. Most people in the UK have to fund part of their university education. Universities are subsidised by the government, but can’t survive on the money they get, so they charge tuition fees. If you come from a poor background you may be excused all or part of your tuition fees. You can also apply for a loan from the government, which you have to pay back later.
Oxford (est. 11th century) and Cambridge (est.1209) are the most famous British universities.
Some children go to private schools called independent schools. Parents have to pay a tuition fee for these schools. Some secondary schools are boarding schools, i.e. pupils live at the school. The most famous schools are called public schools and they have long history and tradition. Eton is the best known of these schools.