After the exams

(this post was posted with a long delay (2 months); note that some of the time references might be broken ;-) )

This month I took several exams at the end of a high school. They are known as “Matura”1 exams. This article aims to describe to foreigners (non-Polish) how they look like.

Polish education system2

Although, There are a few possible ways in pre-university education, one of it is followed by the vast majority. Most of Polish child start formal education with the age of seven and attend to three types of school:

  • Primary school; 6 years; obligatory; Polish name “Podstaw�wka”
  • Secondary school; 3 year; obligatory; Polish name “Gimnazjum”; often mistranslated as Gymnasium
  • High school; 3 year; non-obligatory; Polish name “Szkoła Średnia”

Each of this school ends with a final exam, the most important one is that after high school because depending on its result you may or may not be enrolled to a state university. In Poland state universities are consider to be better than private ones3. Mainly because in order to get into a state university one need to have a really good results from your exams, in private ones just paying an entrance fee is enough in most of the cases.

Preparation to the “Matura” exams

Several months before high school final exams each student could4 choose which subjects is going to take on the following exam. The obligatory ones is Polish language (oral & written), foreign language (oral & written) and one other subject (written only). Each of this part of the exam could be selected on two different level of advance. Students could also take some additional subjects, however any additional subject could be chosen only on more advanced level. Personally, I decided to take following exams:

  • Polish language – basic
  • English language – advanced
  • Mathematics – advanced
  • Computer science – advanced

I don’t have to write computer science exam because of achieving a laureate in Olympiad in Informatics. I get maximum points from it. It’s a rare situation.

Most of the high school students choose a set of subjects that are required by university where they are planning to apply. Some of them also attend additional lessons and courses which prepare them for the exams.

The exam itself

Exam usually take place in May. Expect the oral ones, the date of the exams is fixed in whole country. All students are answering the same set of the questions and are graded within the same rules. The exam last from 1 to about 3 hours. Only a few of the exams are divided into modules. The exam difficulty usually vary over the years. However as long as you are well prepared there is nothing to worry. If you aren’t, the result is a matter of luck.

From my personal experience, not only raw knowledge and skills is important. Some of the exam aspects like knowing how to do your work in time, transfer knowledge to paper or how to find mistakes quickly are crucial. One of the helpful exercise is to write exams from the previous years in the similar conditions. The another good advice is to not study in a few days before the exam. Concentration is much more needed then a few more training (as long as you are already well prepared).

The results

Exam: Part: Result: Statistics:
Polish language
oral 100% 11% of candidates score 100% points
written 67% 23% of candidates score above 63%
English language
oral 95% 12% of candidates score 95%, 11% score 100% points
written 84% 23% score 79% or higher, note that most of the candidates take basic level(~ 83%)
written 98% 4% of candidates score above 90%
Computer Science
written and pratice 100% 4% of candidates score above 85%


I’m really proud of my Maths result, but English one shows that I still not good enough in English grammar (that is were I lose the a lot of points). Anyway, the result are really good, so I was able to publish them, without being ashamed.

  1. the name “matura” came from Latin, like English word “mature” [back]
  2. by the year 2007 [back]
  3. with a few exceptions [back]
  4. it isn’t obligatory, but almost all high school students decide to take this exam [back]
  5. Statistics source: CKE [back]
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