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code beats bac

Today in France, high school seniors got the results of their final exams.  A passing grade on the baccalaureate is needed to go on to college.  It’s a gruelling process, with 4-hour written tests each for widely diverse subjects like philosophy, math, science, literature, history, geography and at least two other languages besides French.  None of the questions are multiple-choice.  Even the math answers must be written out.  You can have the right result, but get the answer wrong because you didn’t explain how you got there.  In addition, there are 2-4 oral exams on these subjects, where you’re asked to give a speech and answer questions about it.  Two of these speeches are in different foreign languages.  Bless the kids who’ve gone through this ordeal over three weeks in late June, in classrooms well above 30-degrees celsius sometimes.  Despite the obstacles, 80% of the 700 000 candidats pass.

But if you think that’s tough, try getting your French driver’s license.  Twice as many people 1.44 million try the ‘code’ each year.  In the Paris region, less than 50% succeed.  How can that be?  It’s only 40 questions, multiple choice.  I know, right?  But it’s so much more difficult than that.  To learn how, check out the book French License.

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