Friday, 13 February 2009


....always the best policy!

With final bac exams due in June, the students sit two (possibly three?) bac blancs before then - mock exams. LeeLee sat her first bac blanc in January and has been eagerly (!) awaiting the results. And so have Richard and I.

School work has always come easy to LeeLee and she has never had to 'pull out all the stops' like many students. But her French Bac results last year hit her hard and opened her eyes - we just hope it has not been forgotten since then!

Whilst away, I kept getting text messages as and when she got her results....with a yippee or a groan to reflect the marks.

To work out the overall bac result it is necessary to take account of the coefficients for each subject - which is where the French bac system gets complicated for us.

LeeLee is doing a bac scientifique which means her science subjects carry higher coeffs than say the languages. She chose mathematics as her speciality which means it carries the highest coeff of 9. For LeeLee, her maths mark is therefore taken account of NINE times whilst her French oral and written marks are only counted twice...thank goodness!

Also, for a bac S, you take your final French oral and written exams in 2008 and all the others in 2009.

For a bac L (languages) you would have taken your sciences in 2008 and the others in 2009. As clear as mud?!

The marks are summarised as 'points' above or below the pass mark of 10/20.

In summary, her results were (coeffs in brackets):

06/20 (2) French Oral (pts = coeff*(06-10) = -8)
04/20 (2) French Written (-12)
10/20 (2) TPE ( 0)

11/20 (9) Mathematics (pts = +9)
15/20 (6) Physique-Chimie (+30)
09/20 (6) SVT (-6)
10/20 (3) Hist-Geo (0)
10/20 (3) Philosophie (0)
19/20 (3) LV1 English (+27)
15/20 (2) LV2 German (+10)
13/20 (2) Sport (+6)

? (2) Art - no mark yet (an optional extra, so only counted if the student's mark is over 10 anyway).

After 2008, LeeLee was minus 20 points and can effectively 'ignore' her TPE, Philosophy and History/Geography marks as they reflect parity.

As expected, her English mark countered her French marks whilst her Physics mark (a pleasant surprise!) and her German both boosted her overall.

Maths was a disappointment but has a story behind it. All exams are each four hours long, and the maths paper had four questions, the last of which carried 50% of the marks. However, the school accidently forgot to give the students this last question until twenty minutes before the end of the exam - they had not realised it was on a seperate piece of paper! So all the students suffered low marks.

LeeLee's weakness is always going to be the quality of her French. In all the exams (even Maths for example) the student can lose marks for every spelling mistake or accent missed. Her professeurs admit there is a bit of a lottery - if your paper is marked early in the day, the examiner might take the time to try and understand your bad French. If it is late in the day - the examiner might hit you VERY hard!

She is pleased that in the German exam, you are always answering in German. But in English she has a 50/50 chance of either an essay in English (great!) or unfortunately comprehension where you answer in French.

SVT (biology) is her weakest science subject because there is always an essay to write - in French of course!

Last year we took advice and let LeeLee move up to terminale rather than resit premiere (in order to resit the French oral/written exams). And we can better understand why now. With only coeffs of 2, it is possible for her to counter these low French marks by her other languages. We hope.....

A letter arrived this week from the lycée detailing her exam results, and giving us her overall bac blanc mark (12.18 out of 20) and stating that she was 70 points ABOVE the average of 10/20.

She knows what she has to do now.....

When LeeLee saw the letter we got from the lycée, she laughed. And told us she was thankful she had told us the truth about her marks as and when she received them. Some of her classmates had 'fibbed' to their parents - not realising that the school would be officially informing their parents of their results!

French schools are not foolish.

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