CERMAT explained: Applications to Czech secondary school are due today

What you need to know about the standardized test and why it's becoming increasingly controversial.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 01.03.2023 11:37:00 (updated on 01.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Today marks the deadline for applying for secondary schools and gymnasiums in the Czech Republic. This year according to data from the Ministry of Education, an estimated 106,000 pupils are studying in the final year of elementary schools, which is 33 percent more than a year ago.

This represents the biggest number of matriculates from primary school in the past 30 years. The numbers are impacted by the influx of some 16,761 Ukrainian asylum seekers who came to the Czech Republic after the Russian invasion and studied in secondary schools this year.

What is CERMAT?

Students planning to enroll in secondary school studies leading to a high school diploma are required to take uniform entrance exams, administered and evaluated by the Center for Education Results (CERMAT) subsidized by the Ministry of Education.

This year, the exams for the first year four-year courses of secondary education with a matriculation exam and for courses of extension studies will be held on April 13 and 14, and for multi-year gymnasiums on April 17 and 18. The unified exam consists of a written test in the Czech language and mathematics.

Many Czech students take preparatory courses in Czech and mathematics organized by private educational companies and agencies such as Scio. Students can also take practice tests online so that they know what to expect.

How is test performance measured?

The tests consist of Czech language and literature (which lasts 60 minutes) and mathematics (70 minutes). Applicants with special educational needs who submit a recommendation from a school counseling facility have their time limit extended. This year, Ukrainian students will be able to take oral Czech language exams.

The maximum possible number of points achieved in mathematics and Czech language and literature is 50. The admission criteria for a school, however, is typically determined by the school, which may assess, in addition to the exam, the applicant's performance in selected subjects or other factors such as extracurriculars.

According to CERMAT, a good mastery of the elementary school curriculum should be sufficient to successfully pass the uniform entrance exams. But recently, the preparation process for the exam – which often requires lengthy and expensive tutoring if students hope to pass – as well as its level of difficulty has received criticism from both parents and pedagogues.

Some critics say that the exam leads to inequality in education.

And with the largest number of students vying for spots in secondary schools in over thirty years and the capacity of gymnasiums increasing only minimally, experts fear that students who don't find a place in the gymnasium will be pushed into more narrow fields of study, which doesn't bode well for the future needs of the labor market.

We have put together a list of resources that will help foreigners navigate the Czech educational system including the process of applying to high school. Read more here.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more