National school-leaving exams get under way

Ljubljana – More than 6,000 final-year secondary school students will sweat over an essay in their mother tongue and some 42,000 6th and 9th class primary school children will write a Slovenian test as nation-wide exams get under way on Wednesday. For the first time in two years, the exams will be sat free from Covid-19 restrictions.

The national exams in primary schools are more or less of informative nature, to give them, their parents and school authorities an assessment of their skills. Meanwhile, the matura secondary-school leaving qualification serves as a pass for students to enter their university course of choice.

The general matura, aimed at academically-oriented rather than vocational students, will start with an essay in Slovenian, or in their respective language for Italian and Hungarian minority students. This year’s theme is a world of glamour and misery in Andrej Hieng’s novel Čudežni Feliks (Miraculous phoenix) and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby.

The second part of the exam in the student’s mother tongue, this time focusing on grammar, will be taken on 30 May. The students will also write essays in a foreign language, sat a maths exam and the subject of their choice by 15 June and then take oral exams between 13 and 22 June. They will learn how well they did on 11 July.

The students who will not be able to sit the exam due to a Covid-19 infection or some other health reasons will be able to take the exam in the autumn, but it will still count as if they sat it in spring, unlike for students who retake the exam in the autumn.

This year’s cohort of matura students have had three of four years of secondary school marked by the Covid-19 pandemic with face masks, social distancing and Covid-19 pass rules, self-testing and on and off remote schooling.

Nastja Orel, a student at a Nova Gorica secondary school, says they have lost quite some class time to quarantine and self-isolation, but still they are better off than last year’s matura students having spent most of their final year in classrooms and getting the chance to get properly prepared for the matura.

“We are positive and believe the matura will go well even though teachers appear to be worried because we never tested our knowledge fully,” says Orel, adding that the students have more problems getting concentrated and keeping their focus. Remote classes and social distancing have affected the mental health of many.

The general matura exam is being sat for the first time by 6,105 students at 83 schools. Last year, 84-87% passed it on first sitting and 86-89% taking into account both exam dates. A total of 6,337 candidates applied for the essay today.

Meanwhile, 22,630 year 6 primary school children and 19,663 final-year primary school students will take the nation-wide examination. After the mother-tongue test today, a maths test follows on Friday and a foreign language test on 10 May for year 6 pupils as their year 9 counterparts write a test on a third subject, which may also be a foreign language.