High school consists of three grades: seconde (second grade), première (first grade) and terminale leading to the baccalauréat exam.

The baccalauréat assesses knowledge and skills at the end of the secondary education and represents the first level of higher education. In this respect it allows the pursuit of higher education studies.

It includes chosen specialities at the end of the second grade and lead to the pursuit of higher education especially at university, preparatory class for entry into the Grandes Écoles or specialized schools.


Seconde is a class that consists of common subjects to all students and options they can choose.

A class of determination

Seconde is conceived to allow students to fortify and broaden their mastery of the common core of knowledge, skills and culture in order to be successful with their transition from middle to high school. It prepares them to figure out their choice of a path within the terminal cycle until the baccalauréat and with, in sight, a successful pursuit of higher education and, beyond, insertion into the professional world.

It combines:

  • Common subjects for a stronger common culture;
  •  Optional subjects: students can choose up to 2 optional subjects, one general choice and one technological choice.

Common subjects for all

Hours and common core program are the same for all. They add up to 26 h 30 in the following subjects:

  •             French;
  •             History and geography;
  •             Modern languages A and B;
  •             Social and economic sciences;
  •             Mathematics;
  •             Physics and chemistry;
  •             Life and earth sciences;
  •             Sport education;
  •             Moral and civic education;
  •             Digital sciences and technology

Optional subjects

In addition to common subjects, students may choose up to two optional subjects. These subjects have different goals:

  •             Get students to discover new topics (knowledge and methods)
  •             Teach them to identify professional activities to which those subjects could lead
  •             Help them to choose a speciality or a stream in première and provide them with information on paths in higher education.

Optional subjects consists in:

  •             Scientific and technological subjects (engineer sciences, sciences and lab…);
  •             Literary subjects (languages and Antiquity cultures: Latin, languages and Antiquity cultures: Greek, modern language C);
  •             Arts subjects (fine arts, music, performing arts…)


Terminal cycle consists in common subjects to all students, mandatory speciality subjects of their choice and optional subjects of their choice.

Common subjects to all students to strengthen the common culture

All students follow a substantial common core, including a scientific two hours class every week in première and terminale. In this common core, they will also find French (in première), philosophy (in terminale), history and geography, modern languages A and B, civic and moral education, and sport education. In total, the common core represents almost 60% of all the première subjects and 55% in terminale.

The progressive nature of paths: speciality subjects choice

In terminal cycle, in addition with common subjects, students follow mandatory speciality subjects of their choice: 3 in première and 2 in terminale. These subjects allow students to gradually acquire skills and knowledge in line with their future higher education choices.

In première, students must choose their 3 speciality subjects (at the end of the seconde) within a list of 12 possible specialities.

In terminale, students choose to keep 2 of these speciality subjects based on their interests and higher education plans.

Optional subjects

Optional subjects (1 of their choice in première and 2 or more in terminale) allow students to complete their education based on their interests and higher education plans.

Optional subjects specific to terminale (“complementary mathematics”, “expert mathematics” et “right and major issues in the contemporary world) might allow the students to broaden their higher education possibilities.

You can download the program of cycle 4 here: