Prague in Depth: Education - Graduation

Get to know the Czech education system

Students heading to university must first pass the maturitní zkouška exam, a process equivalent to graduating high school in North America.

The maturita exam has two parts: a written section taken in April and an oral section taken in May or June, following a free week called "svatý týden" or "svaťák" ("holy week").

Grading is carried out by a panel of academic judges who may take some part in the questioning if they are unconvinced of a student's knowledge, but are mainly there in an observational capacity.

During the course of their gymnázium studies, students choose particular subjects to concentrate on and receive tuition in these subjects from specialist teachers.

Along with examinations, students are graded several times over the course of the year according to the following scale:

1 = Perfect
2 = Excellent
3 = Good/Pass
4 = Poor/Fail
5 = Abysmal

Maturitní ples (Graduation Ball)
Similar to a high-school prom in North America, the maturitní ples is an important part of Czech culture.

Held before graduation, the maturitní ples is an occasion for students to dress up, gather at a ballroom and celebrate the end of their compulsory studies.

This usually takes place several months before instructors sign the actual graduation papers, but whether they complete school or not, nearly all students look forward to this night.

Highlights of the evening include the ceremonial distribution of maturant sashes, students drinking and dancing with teachers whom they have studied under for four or five years, and the collecting of money (usually in a giant parachute) for the class to go out and get inebriated on later in the evening.

So for a uniquely Czech experience, find a young friend who's graduating and go to their ball -- but don't forget to bring a pocket full of crowns.

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