Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said a “backbone of four exams” would better prepare students, spread out the tests and cut costs, that are thought to hit €1.34 billion.
The changes will be in place by 2021, so students entering into Seconde this rentree will start to prepare for the switch and get better support in some areas.
The reforms will see the end of the L, ES and S sections to “offer students more choice and avoid the artificial hierarchies between the sections”.
Philosophy will still be key and the other base courses are French, history/geography, moral and civic, two languages, science and digital life plus three specialities.
The exams will be a written and spoken French exam in the June of première then written exams in the final year, terminale, two in spring on specialised subjects, then philosophy in June along with a 20-minute grand oral on a student-choice project, based on two speciality subjects, with presentation and discussion with examiners.
These make up 60% of marks with 30% from national mini-tests held in January and April of première and the December of terminale (to be marked by outside markers) plus a final 10% from teacher notes grades.
Mr Blanquer said spreading out the tests would cut “cramming”, but the system of rattrapage catch-up oral tests will continue – with its cramming – to give a second chance to students who just fail to hit the 10 out of 20 pass mark.