Twelfth grade

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Twelfth grade, Senior year, or Grade 12 are the North American names for the final year of secondary school. In most countries students then graduate at age 17 or 18. In some countries, there is a thirteenth grade, while other countries do not have a 12th grade/year at all. Twelfth grade is typically the last year of high school.


In Australia, the twelfth grade is referred to as Year 12. In New South Wales, students are usually 16 or 17 years old when they enter Year 12 and 17–18 years during graduation (end of year). All students in Year 12 work towards getting an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) or OP (Overall Position, which applies only to students in the state of Queensland), which will allow them access to courses at university. In South Australia, this is achieved by completing the SACE; in Victoria, this is achieved by completing the VCE; in the Australian Capital Territory, this is achieved by completing the AST[1] and in New South Wales this is achieved by completing the HSC.

In New South Wales, when completing the [HSC], students are required to satisfactorily complete at least 10 units of study in ATAR courses which must include:

  • eight units from Category A courses
  • two units of English
  • three Board Developed courses of two units or greater
  • four subjects

Some Year 12s may receive a Year 12 Jersey. Schools choose the design, colours and writing which are printed or stitched onto the jersey. Sometimes the last two digits of the year they are graduating are printed on the back (for example, "12" for 2012 school leavers) along with a personalised nickname. The front may show the school emblem and the student's name, which is occasionally stitched in.

Many schools conduct end of year "formals" (similar to a senior prom). They are held from any time between graduation in September to November.


In Belgium, the 12th grade is called 6de middelbaar or laatste jaar. In the General Education, this year guides and prepares students for their first year in University by recalling everything learned during the past six years of secondary school. In the Skills Education, this year prepares the students for the professional life with an Intership in the chosen domain.


In Brazil, the 12th grade is called terceiro ano do ensino médio, or third grade of high school. During this grade, most students apply to what is called Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (ENEM), the Brazilian equivalent of the SATs in the US, and vestibular, the individual entrance examination particular to each university.

As in many countries, Grade 12 students attend Graduation, which involves a formal official ceremony, a party where students, relatives and friends are invited and another party just for the students.


In Bulgaria the twelfth grade is the last year of school.The students are 18–19 years old


In Canada, the twelfth grade is referred to as Grade 12. Grade 12 is the 12th year after kindergarten. Students generally enter their Grade 12 year when they are 17 or 18 years old. If they are 17 years old, they will be turning 18 by December 31 of that year. In many Canadian high schools, students, during their year, hold a series of fundraisers, grade-class trips, and other social events. Grade 12 Canadian students attend Graduation which usually involves an official ceremony and a dinner dance.

Ontario previously had Grade 13, which was briefly renamed Ontario Academic Credit (OAC), before being phased out, leaving Grade 12 as the final year. Grades 12 and 13 were similar to sixth form in England.

Quebec is the lone province that does not have Grade 12; their students finish secondary school at the equivalent of Grade 11 and then do two years of college before going to university. Thus, when a student is in Grade 12 in Ontario, for instance, the student in Quebec is in his first year of college.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador did not introduce Grade 12 until 1983.


In Denmark, the twelfth grade is the 3rd G, its equivalent is the 3rd grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory through 9th grade. Students are often 18–19 because there is a one-year gap (it is optional; you can go directly to the first year of secondary school) between the 9th grade and gymnasium's 1st G, where students typically go on a trip or go to some special easygoing art- and sport-oriented boarding schools. Sometimes it is also because Danish children first start school at 6 or 7.


The twelfth grade is the third and usually last year (a fourth year is possible) of High School or secondary school (or Gymnasium) The students graduate from High School the year they turn 19. The twelfth grade is shorter than the previous ones because the twelfth graders lessons end in February and they go on to take their final exams shortly afterwards. Compulsory education ends after the ninth grade, so the upper grades are optional.


The equivalent grade in this country is Terminale, it is the third year of lycée which is equivalent to gymnasium, upon completion of which students sit for a test, the Baccalauréat. French-language schools that teach the French government curriculum (i.e. are part of the AEFE network) use the same system of grades as their counterparts in France. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory until students turn 16.


In Germany, students wishing to take the Abitur usually had to attend a thirteenth grade, but most states are shortening the Gymnasium (the university-bound secondary school system in Germany) from nine to eight years.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, 12th grade is called Secondary 6.


In India, the equivalent grade is referred to as the "HSC", or "plus 2" or in some regions "second year junior college" (SYJC) or PreUniversity Course (PUC). Most students who pass out of class 12 are 17–18 years old. With the introduction of separate entrance examinations for entry into medicine, engineering and law courses. Entrance exams usually comprise multiple-choice-questions on physics, chemistry and biology (or mathematics) and are conducted separately on national and state levels. Additionally some highly coveted institutions hold their own entrance tests. These competitive exams are among the toughest in the world with BITSAT, administered by BITS, Pilani, being India's most competitive[2] entrance exam. Over 13,00,000 students also appear for the IIT-JEE exam, competing for 10,000 seats at the IITs.The AIIMS entrance test is also one of the toughest exams for admission to undergraduate courses in medicine. Around 80,000 students compete for 50 seats. The CBSE and ICSE boards conduct twelfth standard courses nationally, while state boards operate at the state-level.


In Ireland, it is the sixth and final year of Secondary School, referred to as Sixth Year (for 17-18 year olds), in which students take the Leaving Certificate Examinations. Students usually attend a dance or formal party at the end of this year before they move on to third level education or start their adult lives, this is known as a Debs or Grad, this is similar to prom in the United States.


In Israel, the twelfth grade is the third and last year of High School. Students typically begin this grade when they are about 17 years old, and in order to graduate, they have to pass and get a Bagrut certificate. Once finished, student are required to either serve in the Israeli military or do the Israeli community service for a time period (the number of years may vary).


In Italy, the twelfth grade is the fourth year of the high school (which is called Scuola media superiore or Scuola secondaria di secondo grado). There are five years of high school total, sometimes grouped in different ways (2+3, 2+1+2), depending on the type of high school the student is attending. Students get the "Maturità", when they are at the fifth year of high school, de facto the thirteenth grade.


In Malaysia, 12th grade also known as Form 6 in secondary school. The students at this stage are 18 years old, and it is the sixth year in the secondary school.


In Mexico, the twelfth grade is the last year of high school, where students are normally aged 17–18. As in Mexico the education is divided in "primaria" (6 years), "secundaria" (3 years) and "preparatoria" or "bachillerato" (3 years), the twelfth grade is usually called "tercero de preparatoria" (third grade of preparatoria) or "Quinto y Sexto Semestre" (Fifth and Sixth Semester)

New Zealand

In New Zealand, 12th grade is known as Year 13 (New Zealand students attend 13 years of school, starting at the age of 5). Students entering Year 13 are usually 16–17 years old, and finish when they are 17-18. This is the last year of high school. In Year 13, students complete NCEA Level 3, which involves getting a certain number of 'credits' from different external exams and other internal assessments. Students must gain 60 achieved credits or higher (20 of which are taken from Level 2) to pass the year.[³]

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, 12th grade is called "6e middelbare" or "laatste jaar". This only counts for VWO. This year is mainly focused on preparing for the final exams, after which students are ready to go to the University. Normally students in the "6e middelbare" are aged 17/18.


In Norway, 12th grade does not officially exist, but its equivalent is the 2nd grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory until 10th grade.

Courses vary as students choose a specific programme in 1st grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. Examples of programmes are: General Studies, Media and Communication, Health and Care, Industrial work, Design and craftmanship, agriculture. There are 12 national programmes, where 9 will get the students ready for work, and 3 will prepare the students for more advanced studies. Two of the vocational programs (media and communication, and agriculture) may also prepare the students for more advanced studies if taken a third year.


In Pakistan, the twelfth grade is the second and final year of college (the first being the eleventh grade) and is equivalently called the "second year." Students who graduate from the second year are normally between seventeen to eighteen years old. For entrance into universities and postgraduate education, students undergo standardised academic exams conducted by the National Testing Service.


From 1945 until 2011, the basic education system was composed of six years of elementary education starting at the age of 6, and four years of high school education starting at the age of 12 (in which the fourth year was the equivalent of tenth grade/Grade 10). Further education was provided by technical or vocational schools, or in higher education institutions such as universities. Although the 1987 Constitution stated that elementary education was compulsory, this was never enforced.[citation needed]

In 2011, the country started to transition from its old 10-year basic educational system to a K to 12 educational system as mandated by the Department of Education; the department stated that the 10-year basic educational system was congested and designed for twelve years of teaching, not ten. Thus, the K to 12 system was introduced in order to establish educational continuity not just integrated with the ASEAN region system of basic education but aligned with the rest of the world.[3] The 12-year system is currently compulsory, along with the adoption of an improved, decongested curriculum for all schools (see 2010s and the K–12 program). The transition period will end with the 2017–2018 school year, which is the first graduation year for the first group of students who entered the new educational system. Grade 12 has been called 2nd year college and is now the new final year of high school prior to employment, entrepreneurship, and/or college/university in the country. Students are usually 17 – 18 years old.


In Portugal, the 12th grade is considered the last year of compulsory education and the last year of high school. Students choose 5 out of a wide range of subjects, one of which being mandatorily physical education. Out of the other four, two of them are the subjects that will be evaluated in their final exams or national exams (exames nacionais), one must be considered a branch of one of the two subjects that have been already evaluated in the 11th grade national exams and the last can be a broadening of an already studied subject or a whole new one. The obligatory subjects (submitted to nacional exams)depend on the field the student chose to study in the 10th grade:arts; science and technologies (best known as science);socioeconomic sciences (economy); humanistic and linguistic sciences (humanities) or a professional/technical course. Even inside a field, you can opt between speciefics (subjects, whose exam is compulsory to a certain college course application), depending on what the student intends to study in college and on which university he plans to attend.


In Scotland, this is sixth year (or S6). Sufficiently good marks in 5th year may be adequate for entry into higher education. Highers are the entry qualifications to university which can be sat in S5, S6 and college, with Advanced Highers being the equivalent to year one of university[4] which can be sat following higher exams.

South Africa

In South Africa, Grade 12 is the final year of high school. It is more commonly referred to as matric, which is itself short for matriculation. (See Matriculation in South Africa).

At the end of Grade 12, students are said to be matriculated. This also refers to the minimum requirement for progressing to University. On average, Grade 12 students are between the ages of 17 and 19.


In Sweden, the twelfth grade does not officially exist, but its equivalent is the 3rd grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory until 9th grade.

Courses vary as students choose a specific programme in 1st grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. Examples of programmes are: Nature and science, Arts, Economics, Health and care, industry. There are 18 national programmes, where 12 of them will get the students ready for work, and 6 will prepare the students for more advanced studies.

Students graduate the same year they'll turn 19, depending on if you are born early or late in the year you are either 19 or 18 at the day of your graduation.


In Turkey, 12th grade is the last year of high school and compulsory education. In March, students who are interested to go to college take a test named Transition to Higher Education Examination (YGS). In this exam, students have to answer 160 questions (40 Turkish, 31 Maths, 9 Geometry, 15 History, 12 Geography, 8 Philosophy, 5 Religious Knowledge, 13 Biology, 14 Physics, 13 Chemistry) in 160 minutes. Those who answer correct at least 25% of this questions are allowed to take the Undergraduate Placement Examination (LYS). This exam also has different sessions for different branches, which include Mathematics, Geometry, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Turkish Literature, History, Geography, Philosophy, Religious Knowledge and Foreign Languages. It is not compulsory to take all of the subjects. Students usually are at the age of 18 at the end of the year.

United Kingdom

In England and Wales, "Year 13" (or "upper Sixth") is the last year of A-Level certifications, which are completed at the end of the year. Students are usually 16-17 in Year 12 and 17-18 in Year 13. In Northern Ireland this takes place in Years 13 and 14. In England, these two years are now compulsory as of 2015 and are generally required for entry into higher education. There exist specific sixth form colleges dedicated to these years of education, sometimes known as "further education" to distinguish it from both secondary education, which is compulsory, and higher education, which implies university studies.

In Scotland, this is sixth year (or S6). Sufficiently good marks in 5th year may be adequate for entry into higher education. Highers are the entry qualifications to university which can be sat in S5, S6 and college, with Advanced Highers being the equivalent to year one of university[3] which can be sat following higher exams.

United States

The twelfth grade is the twelfth school year after kindergarten. It is also the last year of compulsory secondary education, or "high school". Students often enter the grade as 17- and 18-year-olds and graduate as mostly 18-year-olds.

Many students consider the twelfth grade a year to relax and prepare for transition out of their old lives into college/university or the workplace. Others take advantage of the opportunity to complete additional higher level courses, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, to earn credits for college/university.

Mathematics courses normally include Pre-Calculus, Trigonometry, College Prep Math, Advanced Placement Calculus, Advanced Placement Statistics, Probability and Statistics, and/or SUPA Calculus.

Science courses include Advanced Placement Chemistry, Advanced Placement Biology, Advanced Placement Environmental Science, Astronomy/Meteorology, CSI Forensic Science, Marine Biology and/or Advanced Placement Physics B, Advanced Placement Physics C: Mechanics, or Advanced Placement Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism.

Social Studies courses include Government Law, Economics, Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics, Advanced Placement Comparative Government and Politics, Advanced Placement Psychology, Advanced Placement European History, Advanced Placement Microeconomics, and/or Advanced Placement Macroeconomics.

English classes include Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition, Film and Literature, Sports and Literature, and/or Contemporary Lit. Popular works include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Pygmalion, The Handmaid's Tale, Frankenstein, Othello, Inferno, Goethe's Faust, Hamlet, and Brave New World, as well as works of Romantic poets such as Edgar Allan Poe, John Keats, William Wordsworth, and Emily Dickinson.

Art classes include Advanced Placement Art History, Advanced Placement Studio Art, Advanced Placement Music Theory Applied art in Theatre, Music Theory For Garage Band Musicians, IB Musical Analysis, IB Theatre Arts, Advanced Technical Theatre, Advanced Photography, Advanced Cyramics, Fashion Design and Illustration, Theatre Dance, Jazz Dance, IB Dance Studies Madrigal Singers, Jazz Singers, and/or Wind Ensemble.

Technology classes include Advanced Placement Computer Science, Java, Advanced Web Design, and C++ Programming.

Business classes include College Marketing, College Entrepreneurship, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, College Preparatory Interview Classes, and Advanced Fundamentals in Business.

Wellness classes include Physical Education, Health (if not yet taken), Weightlifting, and Advanced Training in First Aid.

Traditions associated with senior year

In the United States and some other countries, there is a graduation event near to the end of the school year (typically in May or June) more formally referred to as commencement, where "seniors" formally graduate from high school and receive their diplomas.

In many schools, seniors sit for formal senior portraits at the beginning of the school year or the summer prior to their senior year. These portraits are used in the upcoming graduating class' yearbook, e.g. the Class of 2016 Yearbook. The senior portraits in the yearbook are either in full color or black and white, but bigger than the smaller black and white pictures typically used for lower grades. Some may have a caption other than the student's name, or a quote from the student.

There is a formal dance for this year's students, called senior prom. Some schools hold a combined prom for juniors and seniors, while others segregate the two grades into separate dances.

Senior skip day (also known as senior ditch day) is a day during which the seniors do not attend school and skip all their classes. This event/tradition is often not recognized by school administrations and teachers. In some areas it is countered with an officially recognized senior day off, or by allowing graduating seniors to skip their final examinations ("final exams"). This official senior day can also be used to sponsor a "senior field trip" or "senior class trip" where the class would, for example, go to a theme park, a lake, a resort, the beach, or some other vacation-type activity. Following graduation, many seniors go on Senior Week, where they spend a week at the beach with their friends.[5]

In some schools, Seniors receive a class ring at the beginning of their senior year.[citation needed] A "senior prank" is another common tradition in which the class may contribute towards a practical joke on the school, administration, or local community. A related tradition is the senior class either raising money or contributing money for equipment or other things to the school as a token of gratitude and respect for the school's support of the seniors. An example of this could be a senior class contributing money for a new weight room for the school or a state-of-the-art telescope for the science department.

Latin America

In Latin America—except in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Honduras, Paraguay, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico —there is no grade 12; secondary education terminates with the 11th grade.

Mexico's 12th grade is called "tercero de preparatoria" (3rd grade of preparatory school), or 5th & 6th semesters.

Panama's 12th grade is called "Senior Year" which is also 11th grade.

In Chile the 12th grade is called 4to (cuarto) medio, meaning "fourth secondary".[6]

Dominican Republic's 12th grade is called " quarto bachillerato" or "doceavo"

In Guatemala is called "quinto bachillerato".

In Argentina it is called quinto año, sexto año or tercero polimodal (Provinces have got different curriculums). Students usually rent a saloon and organize a dinner and a party for themselves, their friends and families. They have an entrance with specially chosen music and they are often accompanied with one of their parents.

In Ecuador it is the final year of high school and it is called Tercero de Bachillerato (formerly, Sexto Curso) because secondary education consists of three years of Educación Basica (basic education) and three years of Bachillerato (baccalaureate). This follows the Escuela Primaria (primary school) which consists of 7 years of basic education, beginning from Primero de Educación Básica (First) until Séptimo (Seventh).

In Brazil, the 12th grade is called terceiro ano and is the third and last grade of the secondary education.

In Colombia there is no 12th grade so the eleventh grade is called "senior year" and in Spanish it is called "sexto de bachillerato" (bachillerato means "baccalaureate").

In Venezuela it is called "Quinto Año" (5th grade). The last year of high school after six years of "Básica" (basic, elementary school) plus Pre-K and Kindergarten.


  3. "K-12 Primer as of 20 December 2011" (PDF). Department of Education. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-22. Retrieved 28 April 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Bryant, Dawn (June 13, 2002). "Senior Week: A blessing, a curse". Morning Star. Wilmington, NC. Knight Ridder. p. 7B. Retrieved February 18, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. es:Estudiante

See also

Preceded by
Eleventh grade
Twelfth Grade
age 17-18
Succeeded by
Higher education