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Secondary education

There are altogether 30 general education schools in Tartu that provide both basic as well as general secondary education. 21 of those schools are municipal schools, 6 are private schools and 3 are state-maintained schools.

Department of Education

+372 736 1423

Raekoja plats 12, 51004 Tartu


Secondary education

General information

To begin studies in a secondary school, students (their parents if the student is a minor) must submit an application with all the required documents to the school in the period between 15-28 June. In the case of the secondary school part of the Tartu Adult Secondary School, documents can generally be submitted until 25 August.

Students who have previously been studying in a foreign country must also submit a document certifying the level of education or studies they have acquired or completed abroad, or a certified true copy of such a document.

The procedure for the admission of students into the secondary school shall be established by the head of the school pursuant to the school’s terms for admission. Admission into all secondary schools offering full-time study is based on harmonised admission tests.

You can find the list of secondary schools here (in Estonian).

Photo by Juhan Voolaid
Photo by Juhan Voolaid

Harmonised admission tests

Five secondary schools in Tartu organise harmonised admission tests to apply for a place. Hugo Treffner Gymnasium, Miina Härma Gymnasium, Tartu Jaan Poska Gymnasium, Tartu Kristjan Jaak Peterson Gymnasium and Tartu Tamme Gymnasium work together to organise harmonised admission tests.

Applicants must register in a shared electronic information system and make a note of the schools of their preference. Tests will be taken at the school pre-assigned by the system. Conversations to decide whether that school will be able to provide a study place and whether the student is interested in that particular school will be held in April.

Open Doors Day

Students can learn about the study possibilities in a particular secondary school during Open Doors Days that usually take place in February.

Studies in secondary school

Studies in secondary schools take place on the basis of the national curriculum for secondary schools. Pursuant to the curriculum, students must complete at least 96 courses over the course of three academic years in order to graduate from secondary school. 63 of those courses are compulsory in all secondary schools in Estonia. Other courses (33 of which are compulsory) can be used by the school and students to develop, respectively, their characteristic features and special interests.

Secondary schools in Tartu offer a wide range of different elective courses that they use to form their distinct study branches or modules.

Basic education includes studying at least two foreign languages. The first foreign language or foreign language A will be taken up at a younger age, followed by the second foreign language or foreign language B. Secondary school studies also feature at least two foreign languages. Students must achieve a particular level of proficiency in both compulsory foreign languages (in writing and in speech). The language proficiency of secondary school graduates responds to levels B1 or B2 as described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Secondary education includes an assessment of students’ knowledge and skills. Assessments vary from school to school, but in all cases students are given course grades at the end of each course and a final grade or a summative term-end grade upon completing all subject courses.

Studies in secondary schools in Tartu tend to follow a period-system. There are usually five 7-week study periods in one academic year.

Different work organisation compared to basic schools allows better implementation of individual curricula in secondary schools. Based on agreements made in schools, it is possible to take into account studies completed in music schools or in student academies organised at various universities. In-depth sport practices can also be taken into account as well as students’ health.

All secondary schools in Tartu provide opportunities for students to pursue their hobbies – sing in choirs, attend art or dancing studios.

The final examinations of secondary schools are state examinations and school examinations. State examinations take place once a year on the same day in Spring all across Estonia. Upon finishing secondary school, students must take state examinations in Estonian, mathematics and one foreign language, one school examination and write and defend a student research or a practical work. The foreign language state examination can be replaced by taking an international language examination. For more information on final examinations in secondary school visit: http://www.innove.ee/en/general-education/final-examinations/secondary-school

You can find more information on different schools on their respective websites.

Foreign languages

Students can study English, German, Russian, French and Finnish in secondary schools in Tartu (these foreign languages are currently taught in basic schools in Tartu). If there are few students interested in a particular foreign language at one school (fewer than 12 students), then lessons may be organised outside regular timetables and in another location (in another secondary school or in a language school). Secondary schools shall notify admitted students that foreign language lessons for which the number of interested students is too low, may be organised outside the premises of that school (e.g. in another secondary school or in a language school) and that said lessons may take place at the end of the school day or after it.

School holidays

The Minister of Education and Research will establish school holidays for each academic year. Autumn and Spring holidays usually last for a week and Christmas holidays for two weeks. On the basis of a proposal of the head of the school and with the approval of the board of trustees, the keeper of a school may establish different holidays. Some schools in Tartu have made use of this option.

See here for school holidays (information in Estonian).

For more information on schools providing general education in Tartu, please contact our head specialist on general education by dialling 736 1423.

Last changed 15.03.2017