Are high-level universities actually more difficult

“If you apply to the university, your Abi will be devalued by half a grade because you did your Abi in Berlin!” This is a widespread rumor that not only high school graduates in Berlin tell. In North Rhine-Westphalia or Bremen, too, there are fears that the Abitur from their own federal state might be worth less than one from Bavaria or Baden-Württemberg. Getting good grades is much more difficult there. Even high-ranking teacher representatives and politicians let themselves be carried away to such statements again and again: In some places the Abitur is just too easy. But is that true? We asked the Standing Conference (KMK). There, the education ministers of all federal states vote on questions of school policy. Andreas Schmitz from the KMK says: [pullquote] The Standing Conference is interested in the fact that Abitur grades actually correspond to the performance achieved and that they are comparable nationwide [/ pullquote] The KMK already has binding standards for exams in German, mathematics and English and French set. From this school year they apply to all federal states. But why isn't a national central high school diploma introduced right away, in which all high school graduates throughout the republic have to solve the same task on the same day? “There is a central high school diploma in the federal states. We don't have to become any more central. The Abitur has to be comparable in all of Germany - we do a lot for that, but it doesn't have to be written centrally across all of Germany, ”says Andreas Schmitz. One reason he mentions is that the exams only make up a third of the overall grade.

What matters how much?

A residual uncertainty remains as to whether the requirements are really comparable across Germany. In addition, the individual grades of the last two school years are added and weighted differently in each federal state. There are also differences when it comes to the selection of compulsory subjects: In Saxony, three natural sciences are compulsory in the Abitur, in Berlin - unlike in Bavaria - the subject of religion may not be included in the evaluation at all. For the Foundation for University Admissions (SfH), to which you have to apply for subjects such as medicine, business administration, law or psychology, it makes no difference where someone graduated from high school. There they developed the “high school diploma best list”, in which every high school graduate is compared with all high school graduates in his own federal state - Bavaria only competes with Bavaria, Berliners only with Berliners for one of the coveted study places. At the SfH, it is assumed that the universities do not make any distinction between the applicants' countries of origin in the subjects for which they themselves decide on admission.

"We were a little insecure."

Sören, 20, is studying history in his first semester and graduated from a high school in Berlin in 2015. We wanted to know what he thought of the Berlin Abi debate.At the end of last year, the President of the Teachers' Association said that the Abi was too easy in Berlin, and federal states like Bavaria should threaten not to recognize the Berlin Abi. What do you think of such statements?You often hear that the Abitur in Berlin is very easy. As a student, it's difficult to judge - you have no comparison if you haven't moved from another federal state or from here. My impression is that a little more ambition couldn't hurt the Berlin Abitur. But you can't choose where to be born, where to grow up and where to go to school. But not recognizing the Berlin Abi is not a solution. But I can't take it seriously either.Did you sometimes worry that it could be a disadvantage for you to "only" have a Berlin Abitur? Was that a topic among you students?This prejudice is known to everyone, but we talked less about it. We weren't afraid of the competition from the other federal states, because realistically it is clear that our Abitur grades are not devalued when applying to the university just because we are Berliners. We were more concerned about how much our Abitur is actually worth and whether one is really qualified for the course. That makes you feel insecure when you keep hearing that the Abitur is so easy in Berlin. You don't know whether you are well prepared for a particular course or whether you should start with an apprenticeship, for example.What could a solution look like?I think that universities, for example, should rather choose applicants according to their professional skills and not just according to NC. Then the selection process would also be fairer, and the Abitur grades would not matter so much. Now many teachers are under a lot of pressure as soon as the grade average of the class drops. If only the ability and not the cut counted in the end, we would probably not have the discussion about a “too easy” Abitur at all.
(Photo: James Zabel)