The German educational system focuses on traditional subjects such as mathematics, languages (English or French), sciences, and arts with a well-rounded curriculum that includes physical education, religion/ethics, vocational training for careers outside academia. 

In contrast to American schools, where each student must choose which electives to take during their senior year to graduate from high school, German students have compulsory classes in these areas. They can select other courses offered by the faculty at their discretion. 

You might be surprised to hear that there are no grades in German schools. Instead, students receive either excellent (Sehr gut), perfect (gut), or satisfactory (ausreichend)

Teachers will note areas that need improvement in written form, but the purpose is to encourage self-criticism and not detrimental comparison with others. 

While this may seem odd at first, it’s actually an encouragement for students to be independent and self-aware. 

High school is split into three tiers: Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium.

Students can attend either the first two before graduating or go directly to the Gymnasium. The former are vocational schools that focus mainly on practical training, while the latter offers an academic program focusing on math, sciences, and a foreign language. 

Going to a gymnasium is not necessarily the right choice for everyone, so students must research their school choices before committing.

In addition, students across Germany need to take an A-level exam (Abitur) at the end of high school to qualify for University.

What are the education standards like in Germany?

german school

It seems that German education is on par with American education but has its own twists to make it different from ours. 

There is no fixed school day or year length, which means students get more one-on-one time with teachers and less time spent on lunch breaks or recesses which allows them to focus more on academics (something we know our kids need!). 

The curriculum also reflects this because German kids will learn more in a shorter amount of time than us Americans. The German school day is often afternoons only or even just mornings, but it also depends on the class level and school.

Well, sort of. Kindergarten (or sometimes called “preschool”) starts at 4-5 years old for most students but some start even younger. 

Students will usually stay in Kindergarten until they are 6 or 7 years old and then go to primary school (grade 1-4). 

This is when the one-on-one attention from teachers starts to disappear… a lot! 

Primary schools are enormous, with about 30 students per teacher. 

The first two years (1-2) are memorized and forming letters, but it gets much more creative after that (3-4). 

Teachers, who until now were focusing mainly on the students’ grades, will start to try and bring out their own personalities. 

This is when they’ll teach things such as art or music, which aren’t graded as hard because they can be shown instead of just read about. 

Then the kids will go on to middle school (5-10), which can last anywhere from 4-7 years or more depending on how well you do in elementary and sometimes even high school (what we call junior and senior years!). 

This is also when students can choose their own classes, which is a significant difference from the U.S. system, where you are forced into certain classes until grade 11.

Ten to eleven years old and students will enter high school (also known as Gymnasium or Realschule ). 

Students who do not attend Gymnasium (grades 5-10) go straight to the last two years of Real school (grades 7-9.5 or Abitur ) and then go to Fachoberschule (2-3 years) as high school graduates. 

Students who attend Gymnasium will have a lot more freedom than other students choosing their course schedule for grades 5-10 and will also have to participate in a specific subject. 

Gymnasium students can choose from two directions: Wahlpflichtfach (something required, usually German or English) and Fachwunsch (a subject the student has a particular interest in). 

While having much more freedom than other students, Gramschul students have demanding course loads. 

Fortunately for them, though, they get to spend A LOT of time with their teachers (another bonus) and guidance counselors (a big plus!). 

All the schools in Germany must have peer counselors called Beratungslehrer

These counselors act like adults for younger students since their parents are most likely working and left alone. 

This is an excellent way for kids to talk about their problems, get advice, or relax without anyone else knowing what they’ve gone through. 

The German system of education has been criticized since some people think it doesn’t offer the opportunity to specialize in a particular field of study early enough (typically until grade 11). 

This means that teachers will not give students who have talents in a particular field much attention until they reach an age where many American kids are already done with their education.

Students seem to do better than Americans on standardized tests, though, even though it has been shown that the difficulty of the tests is hardly different. 

It’s generally believed that the “smarter” students have a better chance of getting into Gymnasium, and so there is often a lot of pressure for students to do well from an early age. 


Who pays for a German education, and how much does it cost per year?

If you are a parent considering sending your son or daughter to German schools, you must know the ins and outs of schooling in Germany. The first thing to consider is who pays for education there.

In most cases, the government does not pay for school tuition in Germany. Parents are generally required to pay upfront before their child begins school, so they must be prepared financially and mathematically, and emotionally if they want their children to have an opportunity at a quality education in this country. 

The second consideration is the cost per year. Education costs vary significantly from district to district according to location. Still, on average, one can expect to spend about €1,000-€2,500 per year, depending on how many hours/week your child attends school.

In Germany, most schools are public, but some private schools also exist and cost more per year than public ones.

Regardless of the type of school, you should check to see what kind of teacher/student ratio exists at your child’s future school, as this will give you an indication as to whether or not your child will be receiving the quality of education they deserve.

In recent years, German schools have been facing budget cuts, which has led school districts to reduce transportation, field trips, arts education, and extracurricular activities.

While all of these things are important from an educational standpoint, it is also important to remember that the items in and out of the classroom can influence your child’s overall experience and social development.

When it comes to extracurricular activities, German schools tend to offer more options than American ones do. Still, these programs are being cut more frequently than ever before, and parents should expect to pay additional fees for their children to participate in such activities.

The school calendar and vacation schedule in Germany are much different from what you are used to, so make sure you do your research before enrolling your child in a German school.

In some cases, students will attend school for fewer hours per week during summer vacations or have longer breaks between the end of one term and the start of another.

Teachers are also required to take a two-month vacation during the summer, so if your child is enrolled in school when this happens, their teacher may not be present for an extended time.

Education is expensive no matter where you live, but there are some programs out there that can help you offset the costs. If you are granted asylum in Germany, one of the benefits is that your child may be eligible for free education from Kindergarten through 13th grade, which is more than most American children receive!


What are some of the most popular subjects taught in schools?

The most popular subjects taught in schools are math, science, social studies, language arts, and art. The core subjects of math and science are usually introduced in Kindergarten.

German schools also place a high value on socialization, so many children begin learning language arts and other subjects when they are as young as four years old. In the later grades, arts education takes center stage, with students receiving instruction in music, dance, drama, and visual art every year.

Students will spend their time in language arts, math, science, social studies classes, and gym classes during a typical school day. In addition to all of this, teachers generally assign homework on a nightly basis so your child will have plenty to do once they get home from school.

The way that German students are evaluated and graded is very different than it is in the United States, so don’t be surprised if your child comes home one day with a report card that seems to have been written entirely in German!

Depending on what type of school your child attends, students may also receive grades for their behavior. Students who show discipline and respect towards others are rewarded with the “gut” (good) grade. At the same time, those who throw a tantrum in class or act disrespectfully towards their peers will receive an “ungut” (unsatisfactory) degree.

Parents should also make sure to visit their children’s schools from time to time as this is an excellent way for them to see what their child is learning and get to know the teachers and staff. Students may be asked several questions at these meetings, so it is essential that they are prepared beforehand.


How do German schools differ from those in the United States?

The most significant difference between schools in Germany and the United States is in the classroom. Most German classrooms are much more spacious and open than American ones. In some cases, students may even have their own separate desks, so you can rest assured that children will not sit on top of one another during school hours!

Another essential thing to consider is that school-age children in Germany tend to be much more responsible for themselves than their American counterparts.

In the United States, students are usually escorted from class to class by a teacher or aide, while German students often have the freedom to walk around independently. Keep in mind that many parents also do not pay for after-school programs in Germany, and children are typically expected to come straight home after school.

German high schools often include several college-level courses in their curriculum, so you may find that your child spends less time socializing with friends and more time studying. In the United States, most schools reserve such courses for older students, but these will also be integrated into younger grades at German high schools.


What are some of the most popular college or university choices among high school seniors in Germany?

Do you want to study in Germany? You’ve come to the right place. Here are some of the most popular college or university choices among high school seniors in Germany: 

Universität Konstanz (University of Constance) is a public research university located on the Rhine River and was founded in 1966. The University has around 20,000 students enrolled across its six faculties and offers over 140 undergraduate programs and more than 50 graduate degree courses. 

Technische Universität München (Technical University Munich) is one of Europe’s leading universities for technology sciences with an international reputation built upon excellence in teaching and research, close cooperation between science and business, and innovation along its entire value chain. 

Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) is one of Germany’s largest and most prestigious research institutions and was founded in 2009 by merging five formerly independent institutes. KIT aims to become a top university by 2020 and conduct leading-edge basic research in critical areas, from neurosciences to energy and nanotechnology to mobility. 

Hochschule für Musik und Theater München (Music and Theatre University at Munich) is a music conservatory in Germany founded in 1858. It is one of the largest music schools in Europe, with more than 1,000 students per year. 

How much does it cost University in Germany?

University in Germany is free for students from the EU and Switzerland. In other cases, it could be costly.

Depending on how long you want to study (1st, 2nd, or 3rd year) and what level of University you want to attend, the prices vary between €650 per term for a bachelor’s degree up to €2300 for a doctorate.

If you want to study in Germany but are not from the EU or Switzerland, the best way is to find a scholarship through the European Erasmus program.


FAQ :


Do children need to wear uniforms at school, and what about after-school activities or sports teams.

Public schools do not require students to wear uniforms, but most private schools do. 

Is there any homework assigned by teachers or parents in Germany?

Homework is generally assigned by the teacher at the end of each school day. Typically, students will be asked to read a certain number of pages from their textbook or complete an assignment in one of their classes.

What kind of books do students use in school?

Students may be required to purchase hardcover textbooks containing all of the information they’ll need for each subject. In some cases, students may be given a separate workbook in which to complete their assignments.

Are there any extracurriculars available outside of class time that you have to pay for on top of tuition costs? 

After-school programs are also available for children in some areas, but these must be paid for, so you’ll want to research your options carefully before enrolling your child in anything.

What’s the average age of middle and high school students in Germany?

Middle School: 11-12 years old; High School: 14 to 18 years old.

Are there any summer camps in Germany where children can go and study for a while?

There are many programs that students may be able to participate in during the summer months, but most of these must be paid for on top of your child’s other tuition costs.

What about extracurricular activities such as music, sports, or debating?

There are a wide variety of activities available to children in Germany. Still, some of these must be paid for on top of your child’s tuition cost, so you will want to research your options before making any commitments entirely.

When do German children have to start school, and what are the hours of the day?

Most German children begin attending school around age six. Depending on their class, the school day may last from 7.5 to 9 hours per day, with about one hour devoted to lunchtime.

Why are private secondary school costs so high in Germany? 

You will be required to pay additional taxes on top of your child’s tuition cost, so you will want to research your options before making any commitments entirely.

At what age does school start in Germany? 

Schooling in Germany begins at the age of six or seven, depending on the state. Before that, your child will have been attending preschool, typically free and offered by government-sponsored centers.

What are school start times like in Germany? 

The typical school day often lasts from 7.5 to 9 hours, so you should expect your children to be in school for a significant amount of time each day.

What are school uniforms like in Germany? 

The German education system does not force students to wear uniforms, and neither do the majority of schools within the country. However, some private or secondary schools will require you to purchase uniforms for your child.

Do I need to send any paperwork or documents to apply for college in Germany? 

You will need to send your child’s passport, international certificate of birth (or a certified copy), and school or university certificate(s). For students applying to public universities within Germany, you will also be required to send high school transcripts.

Are there many extracurricular activities offered in German schools? 

It is more common for high schoolers to participate in extracurricular activities voluntarily. However, you will likely notice public schools encouraging students to participate in various sports programs and other physical activities during their time at school.

What tests or exams are required upon enrollment in Germany? 

After graduating from high school in Germany, you will be expected to take the Abitur or A-Levels. This exam takes place after your child receives four years of secondary education, and it is meant to test students on their proficiency in a variety of subjects. 

Do German schools have summer holidays? 

Your children’s schooling will likely be interrupted by a series of public holidays throughout the year and summer break. Unless you choose a private or international school for your children, they will likely attend school holidays based on their local public school’s schedule.

Are our German schools strict? 

The German education system, in general, is strict, and most schools are not more or less severe than their public counterparts. However, private and secondary schools will expect students to comply with additional rules like wearing uniforms and attending church services.

Are schools in Germany Good? 

While some schools in Germany may have a reputation for being among the best and brightest in Europe, others are not highly rated. If you choose to send your child to a public school within the country, they will be taught by certified instructors and offered an education that is deemed appropriate for their educational level. 

Is school free in Germany? 

School is free in Germany, and your children will not have to worry about paying for tuition or registration fees. However, you should budget for any additional costs that might arise, such as uniforms, activities fees, or transportation costs. 

How long is Christmas break in Germany? 

The winter vacations in Germany last anywhere between nine and ten weeks. The majority of schools will offer a holiday for Christmas, but there are other holidays throughout the year that you should expect your children to be out of school. 

What grade is a 16-year-old in Germany? 

Your children who are 14 or 15 years old in Germany will be considered in ninth grade. They will not have the option of dropping out of high school after attending lower grades, and they will have to follow at least nine years of their education with a rigorous schedule.

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