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New-look brevet exam for pupils

Longer dictation test to check on spelling, more maths questions and no opting-out of history or geography

STUDENTS attending collège in 2013 will be faced with a revised brevet exam, which tests their core skills.

It will include a longer dictation section to check spelling, more on mathematics, history, geography and civic education the Education Ministry said.

The exam, which is sat in 3e at the end of collège, around the age of 15, marks the end of compulsory school classes and the entry to lycée or into working life. It can involve a simple pass or a mention assez bien, bien or très bien, for higher marks.

Last year, 750,000 pupils - or 83.6% of those taking part - passed the exam, which for the first time included a section on art history.

Dictation is one of the key elements of the brevet and next year will be one-third longer than previously, passing from 600 characters to 800.

It has taken on special importance for the Sarkozy government after a survey in 2005 showed that more than half of 15-year-olds would get a zero mark in la dictée using a test that had been passed by the majority of pupils in 1998.

Mathematics will have more exercises squeezed into the two-hour exam, with up to 10 instead of six, and these will be separate questions (where the following answers do not depend on getting the earlier ones correct). At least one of the questions will be "complex" requiring the pupil to apply independent thought.

The former history/geography exam is also changing to include civic education and pupils will no longer be given the choice of answering a history or geography question.

Further reading: Calls to scrap brevet exams

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