At the end of the final year (3eme) pupils sit for a certificate, normally the Diplôme national du Brevet (DNB) or the Certificat Formation Générale.
The Brevet is also called Brevet d’etudes fondamentales, encompassing a requirement to secure a fundamental knowledge in key subjects and a report on their conduct at school.
In some collèges in the final year there is greater specialisation in either information technology or vocational work, in which case the award is either Brevet technologique or Brevet professionelle.
The diploma is awarded on basis of marks in an exam in the final year and those awarded in class tests over the last two years of collège.
The marks granted in continuous assessment actually count for more marks towards the diploma than the exam itself, a point that is often overlooked by parents and children alike.
The Brevet exam itself consists of three papers in French, Maths and a single paper on history/geography/civics. A separate paper is also taken on information technology, although this may be taken earlier.
A Brevet is awarded to children obtaining an average of at least 10 out of 20.
There is a profusion of books available to assist in the preparation of your child for the Brevet and you will also find that they will sit mock exams at school in the weeks and months before the exam.
The award of the Brevet (which is made by an external body under auspices of the Inspecteur d’académie), grants automatic access to a lycée of the pupils choice following collège.
Whilst success in the exam is certainly influential, the conseil de classe (a committee of teachers, officials, parent representatives and school pupil representatives) will make a recommendation as to what they consider is in the best interests of the child.
The expressed wishes of the parents will be taken into consideration in coming to this decision.
In the event of disagreement between the conseil de classe and the wishes of the parents, the final decision rests with the head teacher of the collège.
Clearly, the better the mark achieved the greater the influence of the parents and the choice that can be made.
If you do not agree with the decision of the conseil de classe there is a right of appeal to the Inspector d’académie, but only three days to make the appeal.
For pupils likely to be entering vocational training after college they can take the Certificat Formation Générale (CFG), which is first step towards obtaining the Certificat d'Aptitude Professionelle (CAP) at a vocational lycée.