Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs

Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs

"Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs" (vwo) or pre-university secondary education is the highest variant in the secondary educational system of the Netherlands. After leaving elementary school students are enrolled in different types of secondary schools, according to their academic ability. The vwo course is a six-year course and successful completion allows the candidate admission to Dutch university. The vwo exam is therefore a matriculation exam.

The vwo includes the so-called Gymnasium variant, which differs from the regular vwo variant (also called Atheneum) in that it has Latin and/or Classic Greek as an additional, compulsory part of the curriculum. A limited number of schools offer only the Gymnasium variant.

Since a few years, a special form of vwo became available, called TTO (Tweetalig Onderwijs, Bilingual Education), in which the students get approximately 50% of their lessons taught in English in the first 3 years, and roughly 30% of the lessons in the last three years. This form of vwo is also more internationally focused, and more time is spent on English lessons, which are also on a higher level than the normal vwo level. A special, international exam is also taken, together with the regular exams at the end of the 6th year of vwo. Recently, TTO has also become available on havo.

Specialisation

Prior to the year 2001, students in the vwo stream had to choose at least 7 out of roughly 14 (options varied by school) topics on which they would ultimately take the national examinations. Dutch and a modern foreign language - most often, but not necessarily, English - were the two compulsory topics, leaving 5 topics open for choice, which students picked according to their ability and interest. Students in the Gymnasium sub-stream would have to take at least one classical language (Ancient Greek, Latin). For others, the most commonly chosen topics included English, French,German, Physics, Biology, Math (applied and advanced), Chemistry, History and Economics (macro and micro). Less common topics were Spanish, Russian, West Frisian, Italian, and Philosophy.

Since the 2001 'phase II' reforms of Dutch secondary education, candidates have to specialize in one or more of four 'profiles' at the start of their fourth year of study in the vwo stream. These profiles contain a fixed set of topics which form a less fragmented study course, thus aiming to offer students a better and more holistic preparation for their university studies.

The four profiles are:
* Cultuur en Maatschappij (literally, "culture and society") emphasizes on history, arts, philosophy and foreign languages (French, German and less frequently Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish). The mathematics classes focus on statistics and stochastics. This profile prepares for artistic and cultural training at the university.
* Economie en Maatschappij (literally, "economy and society") emphasizes on social sciences, economy, and history. The mathematics classes focus on statistics and stochastics. This profile prepares for social science and economy training at university.
* Natuur en Gezondheid (literally, "nature and health") emphasizes on biology and natural sciences. The mathematics classes focus on algebra and geometry. This profile is necessary to attend medical training at university.
* Natuur en Techniek (literally, "nature and technology") emphasizes on natural sciences. The mathematics classes focus on algebra and geometry. This profile is necessary to attend technological and natural science training at university.


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