• Riviera Insider editorial

Breathing room: France's 2021 Baccalaureate reforms

This year saw massive changes to the way the French Lycée exams are marked, giving progressive testing instead of the scary end of studies exam.

As kids across France return to school, many students now entering the Lycée, or high-school level, are finding much more relief from the dreaded BAC test. The 2021 reform of the Baccalaureate has been gradually implemented since 2018, with two major projects in particular: the abolition of the streams, which will be replaced by specialities, and the introduction of continuous assessment tests for the new Bac in January and April.

Here are the important changes that are significantly changing the BAC from 2021:

Selective courses

Implemented at the beginning of the 2019 school year for the general and technological streams, the reform of the Lycée provides for the abolition of the classic S, ES and L streams in favour of a common core curriculum accompanied by three speciality courses in Première and two specialities in Terminale. There are twelve courses to choose from.

Continuous testing

Perhaps the best news of all is the continuous testing reform, which sounds scary but is actually much better for the student’s wellbeing. The Bac 2021 exam is profoundly changing the situation for future baccalaureate holders: the exams are coming faster and more often, however, they are counted to the overall BAC, lessening the pressure of one gigantic final exam. No more last-minute revisions!

The continuous assessment now accounts for 40% of the final grade of the Baccalauréat which is broken down as follows:

  • 30%: common continuous assessment tests: two sessions Première(from January for the first one and from April for the second one) and one session in Terminale (from December).

  • 10%: report cards

  • The final tests account for 60% of the final mark. Each student takes an early written and oral test of French at the end of Première. In Terminale, they take four final exams:

  • Two written tests on the speciality courses chosen by the candidate.

  • A written test of philosophy: for all, this choice corresponds to a ‘French tradition to reinforce the critical spirit in the younger generations.’

  • A 20-minute oral presentation prepared throughout the final cycle


The new oral exam is based on the presentation of a project prepared by the student in Première and has two parts: the presentation of the project, based on one or two speciality lessons chosen by the pupil, and an exchange based on this project which makes it possible to assess the pupil's fluency and capacity to analyse their knowledge. The jury is composed of two teachers.

More information can be found at:

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