Twelfth grade

Twelfth grade, senior year, or grade 12 is the final year of secondary school in most of North America. In other regions it is also equivalently referred to as class 12 or Year 13. In most countries students then graduate at either ages 18 or 19. Some countries have a thirteenth grade, while other countries do not have a 12th grade/year at all. Twelfth grade is typically the last year of high school; graduation year.


In Australia, the twelfth grade is referred to as Year 12. In New South Wales, students are usually 16 or 17 years old when they enter Year 12 and 17–18 years during graduation (end of year). A majority of students in Year 12 work toward getting an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) or OP (Overall Position, which applies only to students in the state of Queensland), which will allow them access to courses at university.[1][2][3][4] In Western Australia, this is achieved by completing the WACE; in South Australia, this is achieved by completing the SACE; in Victoria, this is achieved by completing the VCE; in the Australian Capital Territory, this is achieved by completing the AST[5] and in New South Wales this is achieved by completing the HSC.[6]

In New South Wales, when completing the [HSC], students are required to satisfactorily complete at least 10 units of study in ATAR courses which must include:

  • eight units from Category A courses
  • two units of English
  • three Board Developed courses of two units or greater
  • four subjects

Some Year 12s may receive a Year 12 Jersey. Schools choose the design, colours and writing which are printed or stitched onto the jersey. Sometimes the last two digits of the year they are graduating are printed on the back (for example, "12" for 2012 school leavers) along with a personalised nickname. The front may show the school emblem and the student's name, which is occasionally stitched in.

Many schools conduct end of year "formals" (similar to a senior prom). They are held from any time between graduation in September to November. Australian private schools often conduct Year 12 balls in January or February of Year 12 instead of an end of year formal.


In Belgium, the 12th grade is called 6de middelbaar or laatste jaar in Dutch, rétho or 6e année in French. In the General Education, this year guides and prepares students for their first year in University by recalling everything learned during the past six years of secondary school. In the Skills Education, this year prepares the students for the professional life with an Intership in the chosen domain.


In Brazil, the 12th grade is called terceiro ano do ensino médio, also informally called terceiro colegial, meaning literally third grade of high school. It is typically attended by 17–18 years old students. During this grade, most students apply to what is called Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio (ENEM), the Brazilian equivalent of the SATs in the US, and vestibular, the individual entrance examination particular to each university.

As in many countries, Grade 12 students attend Graduation, which involves a formal official ceremony, a party where students, relatives and friends are invited and another party just for the students.


In Bulgaria the twelfth grade is the last year of high-school. Twelfth-grade students tend to be 18–19 years old. Usually students are preparing to take the Matriculation exam in the end of their 2nd semester.


In Canada, the twelfth grade is referred to as Grade 12. Students generally enter their Grade 12 year when they are 16 or 17 years old. If they are 16 years old, they will be turning 17 by December 31 of that year. In many Canadian high schools, students during their year, hold a series of fundraisers, grade-class trips, and other social events. Grade 12 Canadian students attend Graduation which usually involves an official ceremony and a dinner dance.

Ontario previously had Grade 13, which was briefly renamed Ontario Academic Credit (OAC), before being phased out, leaving Grade 12 as the final year. Grades 12 and 13 were similar to sixth form in England.

Quebec is the only province that does not have Grade 12; their students finish secondary school at the equivalent of Grade 11, and then do two years of college before going to university. Thus, when a student is in Grade 12 in Ontario, for instance, the student in Quebec is in his first year of college.

Newfoundland and Labrador did not introduce Grade 12 until 1983.


In Denmark, the twelfth grade is the 3rd G, which is the final year of secondary school. 3.g is equivalent to 3rd grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory through 9th grade. Students are often 18-19 or older when they finish secondary school. The age of graduation is caused by the fact that Danish children first start school at 6. The reason that many students will be at the age of 20 when they graduate is because some people choose to have one-year gap between the 9th grade and gymnasium's 1st G (the first year of secondary school), where students typically go to special art- or sport-oriented boarding schools or become exchange students all over the world. This is optional though; you can go directly to the first year of secondary school after 9th grade.


The twelfth grade is the third and usually last year (a fourth year is possible) of high school or secondary school (or Gymnasium) The students graduate from high school the year they turn 19. The twelfth grade is shorter than the previous ones because the twelfth graders lessons end in February and they go on to take their final exams shortly afterwards. Compulsory education ends after the ninth grade, so the upper grades are optional.


The equivalent grade in this country is Terminale, it is the third and last year of lycée which is equivalent to High-School, upon completion of which students sit for a test, the Baccalauréat. French-language schools that teach the French government curriculum (i.e. are part of the AEFE network) use the same system of grades as their counterparts in France. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory until students turn 16.


In Germany, students wishing to take the Abitur usually had to attend a thirteenth grade, but most states are shortening the Gymnasium (the university-bound secondary school system in Germany) from nine to eight years. But the recent tendency is re-introduction of the thirteenth year, as in Bavaria.


In Greece, the twelfth (12th) grade is called third year of lyceum school or high school or upper secondary school (Triti Lykeiou – Τρίτη Λυκείου), and it is not compulsory to attend.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, 12th grade is called Form 6. Form 6 students are required to take the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, also known as HKDSE.


In Hungary, students take a national exam called érettségi (lit. "maturity test") at the end of their 12th grade, except for certain vocational schools, where they only take a vocational exam. The érettségi exam consists of standard school subjects, everyone has to take an exam of literature and grammar, mathematics, and history, and they have to choose 2 other subjects, one of which has to be a foreign language, and, in most vocational schools, the other is a mixed test of vocational knowledge.

12th grade students often participate in graduation ceremonies before the érettségi exam. In most schools, there is a full-day ceremony on Friday or Saturday before the exam, which is called ballagás (lit. "going away", or "exiting"). In many schools, students attend to other ceremonies during their 12th grade as well. For example, many schools hold a szalagavató event (lit. "ribbon commencement") at the beginning of the school year, where 12th graders receive a ribbon or a similar emblem with the name of their high school and the beginning and closing year of their studies there, which they later wear on their coats. 12th grade students also often visit their teachers before the final exam, traditionally in the evening, either at their home or in the school, to sing them in the street below, and say farewell. This tradition is simply called serenade. They also often take choir rehearsals before to learn how to sing together.


In India, the equivalent grade is commonly referred to as "Class 12", or "plus 2". It is also called Intermediate College ("Inter"), HSC, Second Year Junior College (SYJC) or Pre-University Course (PUC) in different regions and states. Students entering Class 12 are usually 16–18 years old. The CBSE and ICSE boards issue course and examination guidelines for Class 10 and 12 nationally, while the various state boards operate at the state-level.

Students participate in a party organised by the school known as Farewell Function, quite similar to prom, at the end of the session.

After finishing twelfth grade, students usually apply for entrance examinations for entry into medicine, engineering, law, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Humanities or various other bachelor's courses. Entrance exams usually consist of multiple-choice-questions and are conducted at national and state levels. Additionally some institutions hold their own entrance tests. After 3 (in some courses 4) years Bachelor's course, they get Bachelor's degree and are eligible to pursue Master's degree at 21 ( or 22) years of age.


In the Republic of Ireland, it is the sixth and final year of Secondary School, referred to as Sixth Year (for 17-18 year olds), in which students take the Leaving Certificate Examinations. Students usually attend a dance or formal party at the end of this year before they move on to third level education or start their adult lives: this is known as a Debs, Grad or Prom and is similar to prom in the United States.


In Israel, the twelfth grade is the third and last year of High School. Students typically begin this grade when they are about 17 years old, and in order to graduate, they have to pass and get a Bagrut certificate. Once finished, student are required to either serve in the Israeli military or do the Israeli community service for a time period (the number of years may vary).


In Italy, the twelfth grade is the fourth year of the high school (which is called Scuola media superiore or Scuola secondaria di secondo grado). There are five years of high school total, sometimes grouped in different ways (2+3, 2+1+2), depending on the type of high school the student is attending. Students get the "Maturità", when they are at the fifth year of high school, de facto the thirteenth grade.


In Lebanon, the twelfth grade is the third year of high school, also referred to as The Third Year Of Higher Secondary Education. It can be called the class of seniors or the last class of school. People in the twelfth grade are between the ages of 17 and 18.[7]


In Malaysia, the 12th grade is also known as Form 6 in secondary school which is further divided into Lower 6 and Upper 6. The students at this stage are 18 years old and will usually complete their schooling at 19 years old..


In Mexico, the twelfth grade is the last year of high school, where students are normally aged 17–18. As in Mexico the education is divided in "primaria" (6 years), "secundaria" (3 years) and "preparatoria" or "bachillerato" (3 years), the twelfth grade is usually called "tercero de preparatoria" (third grade of preparatory) or "Quinto y Sexto Semestre" (Fifth and Sixth Semester).


In the Netherlands, 12th grade is named by school level. From low to high: "VMBO", "HAVO" and "VWO". VMBO is composed of four years, with 12th grade being the fourth (4th) and final year. A higher school level is the HAVO, which lasts for five (5) years. The highest school level is VWO, which lasts for six (6) years. So at the HAVO, students are considered senior if they are in "5th class", whereas at VWO, in "6th class" respectively. The last year mainly focuses on preparing for the final exams, after which students should be ready to go to college or university. Usually, 4th and 5th grade students are aged 16 to 17 and those who are in 6th grade usually are aged 17 to 18.[8]

New Zealand

In New Zealand, 12th grade is known as Year 13 (New Zealand students attend 13 years of school, starting at the age of 5). Students in Year 13 are usually 17–18 years old. This is the last year of secondary school. In Year 13, students complete NCEA Level 3, which involves getting a certain number of 'credits' from different external exams and other internal assessments. Students must gain 80 achieved credits or higher (20 of which are taken from Level 2) to pass the year.[9]


In Norway, 12th grade does not officially exist, but its equivalent is the 2nd grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory until 10th grade.

Courses vary as students choose a specific programme in 1st grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. Examples of programmes are: General Studies, Media and Communication, Health and Care, Industrial work, Design and craftmanship, economics, or agriculture. There are 12 national programmes, where 9 will get the students ready for work, and 3 will prepare the students for more advanced studies. Two of the vocational programs (media and communication, and agriculture) may also prepare the students for more advanced studies if taken a third year.


In Pakistan, the twelfth grade is the second year of college (the first being the eleventh grade) and is equivalently called the "second year." Students who graduate from the second year are normally between seventeen and eighteen years old. For entrance into universities, students undergo standardized exams like ECAT, MDCAT and exams conducted by the NTS.


From 1945 until 2011, the basic education system was composed of six years of elementary education starting at the age of 6, and four years of high school education starting at the age of 12 (in which the fourth year was the equivalent of tenth grade/Grade 10). Further education was provided by technical or vocational schools, or in higher education institutions such as universities. Although the 1987 Constitution stated that elementary education was compulsory, this was never enforced.[10]

In 2011, the country started to transition from its old 10-year basic educational system to a K to 12 educational system as mandated by the Department of Education; the department stated that the 10-year basic educational system was congested and designed for twelve years of teaching, not ten. Thus, the K to 12 system was introduced in order to establish educational continuity not just integrated with the ASEAN region system of basic education but aligned with the rest of the world.[11] The 12-year system is currently compulsory, along with the adoption of an improved, decongested curriculum for all schools (see 2010s and the K–12 program). The transition period will end with the 2017–2018 school year, which is the first graduation year for the first group of students who entered the new educational system. Grade 12 is the second year of Senior High School and is now the new final year of high school prior to employment, entrepreneurship, or college/university in the country. Students are usually 17 – 18 years old.


In Portugal, the 12th grade is considered the last year of compulsory education and the last year of high school. Students choose 5 out of a wide range of subjects, one of which being mandatorily physical education. Out of the other four, two of them are the subjects that will be evaluated in their final exams or national exams (exames nacionais), one must be considered a branch of one of the two subjects that have been already evaluated in the 11th grade national exams and the last can be a broadening of an already studied subject or a whole new one. The obligatory subjects (submitted to nacional exams)depend on the field the student chose to study in the 10th grade:arts; science and technologies (best known as science);socioeconomic sciences (economy); humanistic and linguistic sciences (humanities) or a professional/technical course. Even inside a field, you can opt between speciefics (subjects, whose exam is compulsory to a certain college course application), depending on what the student intends to study in college and on which university he plans to attend.

South Africa

In South Africa, Grade 12 is the final year of high school. It is more commonly referred to as matric, which is itself short for matriculation. (See Matriculation in South Africa).

At the end of Grade 12, students are said to be matriculated. This also refers to the minimum requirement for progressing to University. On average, Grade 12 students are between the ages of 17 and 19.


The closest equivalent to twelfth grade in Spain is the second year of Bachillerato, required for attending college.


In Sweden, the twelfth grade does not officially exist, but its equivalent is the 3rd grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. This is not compulsory, as education is only compulsory until 9th grade.

Courses vary as students choose a specific programme in 1st grade of secondary school, or gymnasium. Examples of programmes are: Nature and science, Humanities, Arts, Economics, Health and care, Industry. There are 18 national programmes, where 12 of them will get the students ready for work, and 6 will prepare the students for more advanced studies.

Students graduate the same year they'll turn 19, depending on if you are born early or late in the year you are either 19 or 18 at the day of your graduation.


In Turkey, 12th grade is the last year of high school and compulsory education. In March, students who are interested to go to college take a test named Transition to Higher Education Examination (YGS). In this exam, students have to answer 160 questions (40 Turkish, 31 Maths, 9 Geometry, 15 History, 12 Geography, 8 Philosophy, 5 Religious Knowledge, 13 Biology, 14 Physics, 13 Chemistry) in 160 minutes. Those who answer correct at least 25% of this questions are allowed to take the Undergraduate Placement Examination (LYS). This exam also has different sessions for different branches, which include Mathematics, Geometry, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Turkish Literature, History, Geography, Philosophy, Religious Knowledge and Foreign Languages. It is not compulsory to take all of the subjects. Students usually are at the age of 18 at the end of the year.

United Kingdom

England and Wales

In England and Wales, "Year 13" (or "upper Sixth") is the last year of A-Level certifications, which are completed at the end of the year. Students are usually 16-17 in Year 12 and 17-18 in Year 13. In Northern Ireland this takes place in Years 13 and 14. In England, these two years are now compulsory until the age of 18 (after which a student can leave education if they choose without necessarily completing year 13) as of 2015 and are generally required for entry into higher education. There exist specific sixth form colleges dedicated to these years of education, sometimes known as "further education" to distinguish it from both secondary education, which is compulsory, and higher education, which implies university studies.


In Scotland, this is sixth year (or S6). Sufficiently good marks in 5th year may be adequate for entry into higher education. Highers are the entry qualifications to university which can be sat in S5, S6 and college, with Advanced Highers being the equivalent to year one of university[12] which can be sat following higher exams.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, there is a 7th year of primary school and a 7th year of secondary school.

United States

The twelfth grade is the twelfth school year after kindergarten. It is also the last year of compulsory secondary education, or "high school". Students often enter the grade as 16 and 17-year-olds and graduate as mostly 17 or 18-year-olds depending on their birthday. Twelfth graders are referred to as Seniors.

Many students consider the twelfth grade a year to relax and prepare for transition out of their old lives into college/university or the workplace. Others take advantage of the opportunity to complete additional higher level courses, such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, to earn credits for college/university.

Mathematics courses normally include Precalculus, Trigonometry, College Prep Math, Advanced Placement Calculus, Advanced Placement Statistics, Probability and Statistics, or SUPA Calculus.

Science courses include Advanced Placement Chemistry, Advanced Placement Biology, Advanced Placement Environmental Science, Astronomy/Meteorology, CSI Forensic Science, Marine Biology or Advanced Placement Physics B, Advanced Placement Physics C: Mechanics, or Advanced Placement Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism.

Social Studies courses include Government Law, Economics, Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics, Advanced Placement Comparative Government and Politics, Advanced Placement Psychology, Advanced Placement European History, Advanced Placement United States History, Advanced Placement Microeconomics, or Advanced Placement Macroeconomics.

English classes include Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition, Film and Literature, Sports and Literature, or Contemporary Literature. Popular works studied include Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Pygmalion, The Handmaid's Tale, Frankenstein, Othello, Inferno, Goethe's Faust, Hamlet, and Brave New World, as well as works of Romantic poets such as Edgar Allan Poe, John Keats, William Wordsworth, and Emily Dickinson.

Art classes include Advanced Placement Art History, Advanced Placement Studio Art, Advanced Placement Music Theory, Applied art in Theatre, Music Theory For Garage Band Musicians, IB Musical Analysis, IB Theatre Arts, Advanced Technical Theatre, Advanced Photography, Advanced Cyramics, Fashion Design and Illustration, Theatre Dance, Jazz Dance, IB Dance Studies Madrigal Singers, Jazz Singers, or Wind Ensemble.

Technology classes include Advanced Placement Computer Science, Java, Advanced Web Design, and C++ Programming.

Business classes include College Marketing, College Entrepreneurship, Sports and Entertainment Marketing, College Preparatory Interview Classes, and Advanced Fundamentals in Business.

Wellness classes include Physical Education, Health (if not yet taken), Weightlifting, and Advanced Training in First Aid.

Traditions associated with senior year

In the United States and some other countries, there is a graduation event near to the end of the school year (typically in May or June) more formally referred to as commencement, where "seniors" formally graduate from high school and receive their diplomas.

In many schools, seniors sit for formal senior portraits at the beginning of the school year or the summer prior to their senior year. These portraits are used in the upcoming graduating class' yearbook. The senior portraits in the yearbook are either in full color or black and white, but bigger than the smaller black and white pictures typically used for lower grades. Many modern yearbooks are in full color. Some may have a caption other than the student's name, or a quote from the student.

There is a formal dance for this year's students, called senior prom; depending on the school, the junior class may host this dance for the seniors. Some schools hold a combined prom for juniors and seniors, while others segregate the two grades into separate dances.

Senior skip day (also known as senior ditch day) is a day during which the seniors do not attend school and skip all their classes. This event/tradition is often not recognized by school administrations and teachers. In some areas it is countered with an officially recognized senior day off, or by allowing graduating seniors to skip their final tests ("final exams"). This official senior day can also be used to sponsor a "senior field trip" or "senior class trip" where the class would, for example, go to a theme park, a lake, a resort, the beach, or some other vacation-type activity. Following graduation, many seniors go on Senior Week, where they spend a week at the beach with their friends.[13] Many seniors that are in the arts (but sometimes other areas), such as band or choir, will have the opportunity to go on an extended vacation following graduation. The students, faculty, parents, and other people may fund the trip through fundraisers, donations, etc. Travel usually involves going out of the local state, and possibly overseas.

In some schools, Seniors receive a class ring at the beginning of their senior year. A "senior prank" is another common tradition in which the class may contribute towards a practical joke on the school, administration, or local community. A related tradition is the senior class either raising money or contributing money for equipment or other things to the school as a token of gratitude and respect for the school's support of the seniors. An example of this could be a senior class contributing money for a new weight room for the school or a state-of-the-art telescope for the science department. A similar project could involve the outside local community as well.

See also


  1. Garnett, Patrick (13 January 2018). "Year 12 Student Achievement Data 2017" (PDF).
  2. Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority, Queensland Government (13 January 2018). "2016 Data summary" (PDF).
  3. View Table 3.: 56.8% of Year 12 students receive an ATAR Lamb, S, Jackson, J, Walstab, A & Huo, S (2015), Educational opportunity in Australia 2015: Who succeeds and who misses out, Centre for International Research on Education Systems, Victoria University, for the Mitchell Institute, Melbourne: Mitchell Institute.
  4. Figure 3.25, Page 37 indicates that under 50% of Year students receive an ATAR score.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-11. Retrieved 2014-04-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Cost/Benefit Analysis Relating to the Implementation of a Common School Starting Age and Associated Nomenclature by 1 January 2010" (PDF). Atelier Learning Solutions Pty Ltd. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2016-05-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. "Education in the Netherlands". Expatica. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  9. "NCEA levels and certificates". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  10. "Filipino Community Profile – Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District". Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  11. "K-12 Primer as of 20 December 2011" (PDF). Department of Education. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-22. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  12. "SQA". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  13. Bryant, Dawn (June 13, 2002). "Senior Week: A blessing, a curse". Morning Star. Wilmington, NC. Knight Ridder. p. 7B. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
Preceded by
Eleventh grade
Twelfth Grade
age 17-18
Succeeded by
Higher education or Thirteenth grade
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