The French Baccalaureate
The French Baccalaureate (Le Bac) is the diploma that marks the completion of a French high school program and follows the curriculum guidelines established by the French Ministry of Education, a demanding pre-university program of study taught entirely in French. Students must choose a specialized program of study within a core curriculum. The diploma is obtained at the end of grade 12, after externally assessed examinations are taken, and is the essential credential for entry into any French national university.
French Bac, International Option
The International Option (OIB) is not a separate diploma, but rather a specialization within the framework of the French Baccalaureate consisting of language, literature, civilization, and history of the United States. These courses are taught in English by certified teachers. The ultimate goal of the OIB is to take into account the international dimensions of education today.
The OIB is not open only to French students who have acquired a thorough knowledge of English, but also to IB students who are fluent in French.
The OIB is an examination created and administered by the French Ministry of Education, in coordination with the Advanced Placement Division of the College Board.
In the 9th grade (classe de 3ème), students prepare the “Brevet des Collèges." This is a French national exam, externally assessed, which includes French, math, and history/geography. Grades earned in all subjects over a two year period (grades 8 and 9) are included in the calculation of the final grade for this exam. The study of a third language is mandatory.
The 10th grade curriculum (classe de 2de) prepares the students to choose which tracks and specialties they will study in 11th and 12th grades (classes de 1ère et Terminale). At International High School, we require 10th grade students to enroll in Economics.
In 11th and 12th grade, students follow a common core of classes that include mathematics, literature, history and geography, two modern languages, philosophy (grade 12), biology, physics, chemistry, and physical education. Students in grade 11 are also required to write an interdisciplinary research project (TPE), which is presented to a jury of teachers.
The Bac is divided into different specialized academic programs which correspond to a student’s scholastic aptitudes, or future college plans. Within the tracks, certain courses are considered to be more challenging than others and are weighted more heavily:
- Bac ES (Economics and Social Sciences): This Baccalaureate emphasizes economics, social and political sciences. Students specialize in advanced economics/social sciences, mathematics, and foreign language.
- Bac S (Science and Mathematics): This Baccalaureate is intended for the more scientifically focused students. Students specialize in advanced mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology.
Students in grade 12 must choose an additional two-hour class (called a specialization) which is a supplement to one of the subjects in their current schedule.