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Despite spring state of emergency results in state examinations were good

18. November 2020 - 9:41

The state examinations for the 2019/2020 academic year show that the average results of the students who decided to take the exams this year are on par with those of previous years. This year, because of the state of emergency in spring, the exams were not a prerequisite for students to graduate from high school: taking them was voluntary. While at the national level the examination results are similar to those of previous years, the results are not comparable by school or year because only some students took the exams – some declined to take any, while others chose to sit a single exam or took additional exams in autumn.

Aimi Püüa, the head of the Testing and Evaluation Department at the Education and Youth Authority, says that despite the distance learning period this spring, quite a lot of students decided to take the state exams and did rather well in them. However, she stressed that comparing schools based on this year’s results should be avoided. “Because the exams were voluntary, the number of students who took them differs greatly by school – for instance, in some schools only five students decided to take the narrow version of the state exam in mathematics,” she explained. “It’s not fair to the schools to compare results under those circumstances. The students based their exam choices on what they needed in order to continue their studies, including those who took the state exam in Estonian as a second language so as to obtain a certificate of proficiency in the language.” Püüa added that most students nevertheless decided not to take the narrow exam in mathematics and the state exam in Estonian as a second language.

In the last academic year, state exams were held for the 24th time, this time being voluntary. Students had the option of taking the state exam in Estonian or Estonian as a second language and in mathematics. There were no state exams in English this spring. The international examinations in German, Russian and French were held in June and August. Students with outstanding English skills had the opportunity to take the international Cambridge English C1 Advanced exam.
Also, students had the option of taking exams in autumn if they had decided not to take the earlier exams, or to take them again in order to improve their results.


Since spring 2012, the state exams in German, Russian and French have been replaced with international examinations. Since 2019, the Education and Youth Authority, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research and the internationally recognised examination organisation Cambridge Assessment English, has offered Estonian high school students the opportunity to take the Cambridge English C1 Advanced exam free of charge.

The Goethe-Zertifikat level B1 and B2 exams in German were held from 8-11 June. All students achieved the results needed to obtain their language diploma: 18 students were issued with a B1 diploma and 11 with a B2 diploma. A total of 73 students from eight schools took the exam for the Stage 2 language diploma in German, of whom 26 achieved the B2 level and 29 achieved the C1 level. In spring, 17 students took the Tallinn German Gymnasium general German higher education maturity exam, all of them achieving the highest level: C1.

In the last academic year, 15 students took the international B1-level exam in Russian, the highest result in the August exam being 576 points out of 610 and the lowest being 295. The average result was 73.2%. In total, 47% of those who took the exam were issued with a level B1 certificate. A further 85 students sat the B2-level exam, whose average result was 511.9 points or 89%. Of them, 94% obtained a level B2 certificate, with one student being issued with a level B1 certificate. In general, those who chose to take the B2 exam demonstrated excellent language skills.

The international DELF scolaire level B1 and B2 exams in French which were held from 3-7 August were taken by 62 students from 14 schools. Of them, 13 students achieved the level B1 and 48 students level B2. This year, the average result of the B2 exam was 76.4%.

In the last school year, the international Cambridge C1 Advanced exams in English were held from 18-30 November 2019 and 13-21 June 2020. A total of 1738 students took part in the C1 Advanced autumn session and 1148 in the spring session. Of them, 469 achieved the level C2, 1934 achieved the level C1 and 467 achieved the level B2. The results of 16 students (0.6%) were lower than B2 and they were not issued with a language proficiency certificate. The increasing interest in the C1 Advanced exams and the fact that 2403 students obtained a C-level certificate shows that an ever-increasing number of Estonian students are surpassing the B-level English language skills required by the curriculum.

In total, 6027 students took the state exam in Estonian with an average result of 61.6 points. This time, seven students achieved the maximum score of 100, while one student received 0 points and did not complete the exam. Most students scored within the range of 60-70 points. A total of 1068 students scored 80 points or more, while 262 students scored at least 90 points. The maximum score in the reading section (40 points) was obtained by 127 students, while 40 students received the maximum (60 points) in the writing section.

The state exam in Estonian as a second language was taken by 1779 students. The average result was 67.8 points. Six students scored 100 points. The students who achieved at least 60% of the maximum score were issued with a level B2 certificate. This year, 69.3% of the participants achieved the B2 level, compared to 58.7% in 2019 and 61.2% in 2018.

State examination in mathematics

In upper secondary school, students have the option of taking either a narrow mathematics course (8 courses) or an extended mathematics course (14 courses). Students on the narrow course were able to choose the extended mathematics exam, and vice versa.

The average result in the narrow mathematics exam was 36.4 points. This result was on par with that for 2019 (36.4 points). This year, one student scored 100 in the narrow mathematics exam, while 22 scored 0 points.

The average result for the extended mathematics exam was 51 points (2019: 51.1 points). This year, 13 students achieved 100 in the extended mathematics exam, while 20 scored 0 points.

The additional state exams took place from 26 September to 17 October and were open to those who had already taken them but wished to improve their scores and those who had not previously taken the exams. The exams were held in five cities around the country: Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Viljandi and Jõhvi. A total of 549 students took part in the exams.

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