Prague in Depth: Education - Secondary School

Get to know the Czech education system

Czech students have three main options after primary school (základní škola): a gymnázium (general school), a střední odborná škola (technical school), or a střední odborné učiliště (technical institute).

To get into the school of their choice, they must take entrance exams (přijímací zkoušky). If they don’t pass the first time, they are granted a second opportunity.

This two-round method of testing gives students the chance to try for a better school at the second attempt -- or settle for a second choice if they fail the first examination.

Generally, children enter secondary school when they are 14-15 years old, and attend for four or five years.

Students who want to further their education at university typically enter a gymnázium with the ultimate goal of passing the maturity exam (maturitní zkouška) by the time they are aged 19-21.

Gymnáziums teach basic academic subjects such as the humanities (languages, history, etc.) and natural sciences (math, chemistry, physics, computers, etc.), with the ultimate goal of preparing their students for university.

Střední odborná škola (SOŠ)
Offering four-year courses, technical schools specialize in a particular field -- anything from building to business to music or art.

An SOŠ is generally considered less prestigious than a gymnázium but more prestigious than a střední odborná učiliště.

Střední odborné učiliště (SOU)
For students who want to learn a trade, this two- or three-year general education course is usually complemented by on-the-job training and work experience.

Common SOU options include food preparation, gardening, law enforcement, maintenance, mechanics and shop-keeping.

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