Education in Hungary
Children in Hungary start school at the age of 6 and are supposed to attend school until the age of 16, two years earlier than coming of age, that is to say turning 18. The majority of children go to state schools, there are few private schools – some of them offer alternative educational methods – and boarding schools are not popular. Before starting school, children are required to attend nursery school, which is very convenient for working parents.
All pupils start at elementary school (1st to 8th form) and after 4th form they can decide whether to stay or transfer to an eight-form grammar school. This possibility is offered again after 6th form as a transfer to a six-form grammar school, and many talented and academically advanced children take this opportunity. When pupils finish elementary school, they can enrol into vocational schools, where they are taught practical skills needed to perform a particular job, like carpentry, gardening, etc. These schools give a trade certificate but pupils are not prepared for the school-leaving exam that is required to enter higher education. If someone would like to learn a trade and enrol into higher education afterwards, the best choice for them is the secondary vocational school offering tuition in both practical and academic skills.
Secondary education is also offered by grammar schools, where the focus is purely academic and the aim is to prepare pupils for continuing their studies at college or university. Students are required to take a school-leaving exam at the end of 12th form in five subjects. The compulsory subjects are Hungarian language and literature, Maths, History and a foreign language of choice. Pupils are allowed to pick one more subject based on their interest. The school-leaving exam is available at intermediate or advanced level and students decide which one to take based on the entrance requirement of their university or college of choice. Budapest, Szeged and Debrecen are the most significant university towns in the country.
At present, higher or tertiary education in Hungary is based on the Bologna system, which is in force in most European countries, making studying abroad much easier. Students who complete their first 3 or 4 years of study earn a Bachelor’s degree and can continue their studies to earn a Master’s degree, which takes 1 or 2 years. This division is not applicable in Hungary if you study to be a lawyer, doctor, vet, dentist, pharmacist, or an architect. The highest level is the doctoral degree, which means another 3-4 years of study. Students are supposed to pass at least one intermediate level foreign language exam as part of their studies in order to be awarded their degrees.
to come of age – nagykorúvá válni
state school – állami iskola
alternative – alternatív
educational method – oktatási módszer
boarding school – bentlakásos iskola
elementary school – általános iskola
grammar school – gimnázium
talented – tehetséges
vocational school – szakmunkásképző
trade certificate – szakmunkás bizonyítván
school-leaving exam – érettségi vizsga
higher education – felsőoktatás
secondary vocational school – szakközépiskola
subject – tantárgy
compulsory – kötelező
entrance requirement – felvételi követelmény
to be in force – érvényben van
division – felosztás
doctoral degree – doktori fokozat