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Old 22.01.2019, 16:59
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Swiss Matura or IB

What would someone recommend Swiss Matura or IB and can someone who achieves Swiss Matura get into any Swiss University and are there some points/rankings or additional things that count?

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Old 22.01.2019, 20:02
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

Swiss Matura: allows general entry into Swiss universities . Universities are bound by law to make places available for qualified applicants with some exceptions: place in Medicine and physiotherapy are limited and require the sitting of a separate exam (numerus clausus) - at least for the german part of Switzerland, in the french part it is different.
IB: no general entry, some universities are fairly relaxed. The ETH will look at the actual IB subjects/level and may demand the sitting of an additional exam(s) -or daughter received unconditional offers from Imperial and McGill, but would have had to sit an additional exam in physics for entry into a Biochemistry course at the ETH.
IB is obviously very useful outside of Switzerland. The Swiss matura has a generally good reputation, but each university will make its own decision - for IB there are often set point requirements that are publicised.
In Switzerland the choice is normally linked to the type of school:
IB -international school
Matura: Kantonal Gymnasium
The duration of the courses is different
IB course -two years
Matura- four years with problems involved in changing Kanton

the exam types are different
IB - worldwide exams so the teaching is directed to passing a predictable exam
Matura - each school sets and marks it's own exams with all the pros and cons involved
Number of subjects is very different
Matura: 8-10 subjects with a simple pass/fail system based on a complicated accumulation of all the marks
IB: fewer than half the number of subjects with points accumulated to give an overall score which can be misleading as some points are easier to gain than others.
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Old 22.01.2019, 20:50
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

Thank you very much.
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Old 22.01.2019, 23:45
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

Matura grants you access to any university in CH, but abroad you need to convert the grades and get equivalence at the relevant embassy (I've never heard of people studying in the EU having problems with this, although grades are lower in CH compared to say italy, so that might be a disadvantage in some cases).
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Old 23.01.2019, 00:14
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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Matura grants you access to any university in CH, but abroad you need to convert the grades and get equivalence at the relevant embassy (I've never heard of people studying in the EU having problems with this, although grades are lower in CH compared to say italy, so that might be a disadvantage in some cases).
Grades are lower because it is tougher. I sit Matu exams and taught IB, too. IB is easier in my experience. OP, it depends on your child, really, and what future career they imagine to pursue and where.
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Old 24.01.2019, 13:41
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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IB: fewer than half the number of subjects with points accumulated to give an overall score which can be misleading as some points are easier to gain than others.
Nope. No idea about the matura, but for the IB DP, a student needs to take two languages, a subject from the humanities, a science and mathematics, with at least one additional subject.

In addition to this they have to complete a 4,000 word essay and take a course in epistemology, which is assessed via a written essay and a presentation, and a community action/artistic activity component that has to be met.

The DP programme is a full on experience which is not be taken on lightly.
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Old 24.01.2019, 16:18
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

I use this overview of the different 'high school' degrees available in Switzerland in my seminars, I hope this is useful:
Matura:
-'Allrounder‘, broad based, most subjects compulsory, not possible to drop subjects, min. 11-12 subjects in the last 2 years, 6 examined subjects, very demanding, Matura grade 50% subject grades, 50% matura exams
-Languages: 30 - 40%
-Mathematics and natural sciences: 25 - 35%
-Social sciences/ humanities: 10 - 20%
-Arts/Design/Music: 5 - 10%
-15 bis 25% for the elective subjects + matura thesis
-Entry into any Swiss university with an overall pass (with a few except.)
-Entry into UK and US universities can be challenging as grades of 5 and above required for top universities! (average Matura grade usually around 4.2)

IB diploma
-Allrounder, demanding, holistic approach, community service
-6 subjects, 3 higher including Maths, social sciences, humanities and languages - unlike matura high grades required in at least 4 subjects
-More freedom of choice
-Internationally accepted, high average needed for top universities
-Mainly international schools, some local schools in combination with Matura

A-levels (suited for ‚specialists‘, as subjects can be dropped)
-Last 2 years four subjects, 3 examined subjects
-Overall free subject choice, allows specialisation
-Accepted in both Swiss (particular subject combination required!) and UK universities and universities abroad.
-Good preparation for specialist university degrees
-Offered at several private schools in Switzerland, entry also possible after local secondary school
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Old 24.01.2019, 17:31
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

I have a Swiss Maturité, my son got his IB.
We both went to university (he's currently studying towards his Masters).
Both are fine and give access to university studies.

Note that Swiss universities do impose a minimum of 32 points for the IB, so if you wish to study here, the Swiss Maturité is less of a risk as it gives automatic access to the university (even 25 years later…. I returned to uni a 2nd time at the age of 45).
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Old 24.01.2019, 20:49
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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I have a Swiss Maturité, my son got his IB.
We both went to university (he's currently studying towards his Masters).
Both are fine and give access to university studies.

Note that Swiss universities do impose a minimum of 32 points for the IB, so if you wish to study here, the Swiss Maturité is less of a risk as it gives automatic access to the university (even 25 years later…. I returned to uni a 2nd time at the age of 45).
But in my opinion passing the Matura is more risky and more difficult than passing the IB (and I am talking about the latter with really good grades). It can also come at a high personal price to the student and their family.

In November I went on an open evening to a gymi in Zurich and talked with a student there who was just over half way through the Kurz-zeit gymi (so just over 2 years into the 4 year course). I asked her about class sizes; she explained that there were initially 26 students, but that the class was now at 16, as so many children hadn't made the grade and had been asked to leave. She said that the heads of the school and teachers just didn't care. The kick out rate here is high though is not unheard of. I find it both unacceptable and brutal.

Anyway, I digress, my son is currently at a gymi in Zürich and he receives little to no pastoral care. The work is extremely challenging, the level is high in all subjects and there are constant exams to prepare for. I believe that many children work so incredibly hard in order to keep their place, and not because they are truly motivated. On the whole, teachers use old fashioned teaching methods - there's so much rote learning and, in my mind, a lot of it is pretty pointless - it's only to pass the next exam and then get through to the next semester. It's an almost identical education to what my father received in the 1950s in UK catholic grammar school. We may just be unlucky with the teachers and school my son attends, but that is how we find it.

Although he loves his class and he manages to pass the exams (though with a huge amount of work which means he cannot pursue his many other hobbies and interests) my son's previous huge love of learning has been almost completely squashed and he now really dislikes school. In short, and as an understatement, we are disappointed and saddened with how it is turning out.

Although I believe the IB also to be educationally challenging, it is in a different way; it is more up to date both in content and teaching methods and consequently the children receive a more interesting and rounded education.
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Old 24.01.2019, 21:04
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

Absolutely agree.
Nevertheless do remember the IB 32 point requirement for Swiss universities.

If you're ok with your child attending a private or foreign university then the IB is certainly the way to go. My son loved the IB program.


Btw.. extra hobbies and interests are rather difficult to correlate with either Matura or IB studies. The last two years is entirely devoted to studies.
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Old 25.01.2019, 11:11
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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In November I went on an open evening to a gymi in Zurich and talked with a student there who was just over half way through the Kurz-zeit gymi (so just over 2 years into the 4 year course). I asked her about class sizes; she explained that there were initially 26 students, but that the class was now at 16, as so many children hadn't made the grade and had been asked to leave.
That comparison is probably unfair. Many parents will get their kid into gymi even though they're unlikely to be able to hold up. Many of those will drop out during the first half year and create an oversized dropout rate.
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Old 25.01.2019, 11:38
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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That comparison is probably unfair. Many parents will get their kid into gymi even though they're unlikely to be able to hold up. Many of those will drop out during the first half year and create an oversized dropout rate.
Yes that's true, many might have been in the first semester. On the other hand the school accepted these children on the basis of exams/previous academic requirements and these are generally very high. To pass the exam in Zurich children (or to come from Lang Zeit gymi with a pass) the children are bright and motivated at that point, even if the parents have supported them with additional tutoring etc. Can the school have admitted the "wrong" children, for what will be probably more than half the class, by the time the four year course is finished? Selection processes might need to be looked at again. And are the very high demands of the Matura even realistic and relevant today?

In my mind, for so many children being asked to leave or not managing their studies makes it clear to me that the Gymnasium schools' role (in Zurich at least, where I believe it to be extremely tough) is to neither motivate nor support children in their studies or through tough times.
But life generally is competitive and it can be tough - and in the Swiss school system we see it is earlier, even though it is so very hard on the children.

This is different to most other educational systems you find around the world. In the UK, once a child gets accepted to a selective grammar school, they would only be asked to leave the school in the case of serious misbehaviour. Then again, UK A level students can leave school and fail their exams or obtain very low grades. It's really so very different!

On the radio recently on a news programme my husband heard that the aim in Switzerland, overall is for 21% students to have the Matura and they do not more. So if this is true, it's not in the country's interests to help or support more children!
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Old 25.01.2019, 12:47
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

This is also our experience - the gymnasiums are more focused on sieving out children displaying weaknesses and on limiting the number of students than trying to get the best out of all the children who've passed the entrance exam. For example, my child's Kurzgymi Probezeit class were doing unusually well back in November, not a single child was under the required level and noone had dropped out. So the teachers told them it had been decided that the tests would be made harder for their class to ensure that the brightest children were suitably stretched. Most test averages went down to under a 4 and now at least 20% won't pass the Probezeit.
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Old 25.01.2019, 15:18
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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This is also our experience - the gymnasiums are more focused on sieving out children displaying weaknesses and on limiting the number of students than trying to get the best out of all the children who've passed the entrance exam. For example, my child's Kurzgymi Probezeit class were doing unusually well back in November, not a single child was under the required level and noone had dropped out. So the teachers told them it had been decided that the tests would be made harder for their class to ensure that the brightest children were suitably stretched. Most test averages went down to under a 4 and now at least 20% won't pass the Probezeit.
Is this on a local level? So there really isn't a national level playing field?

Last edited by RufusB; 25.01.2019 at 15:29.
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Old 25.01.2019, 15:29
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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On the radio recently on a news programme my husband heard that the aim in Switzerland, overall is for 21% students to have the Matura and they do not more. So if this is true, it's not in the country's interests to help or support more children!
This is true. The matura quota is stable at 20% for over 15 years now. I actually like it this way. You can't tell me that 60 % of children are made for a matura and university?

There are a lot of other options for children in switzerland, no need to force them into university if the aren't up to the challenge (yet). Get an apprenticeship, get some working experience and if your able and motivated, going to university afterwards is no problem. You "loose" one or two years in total, but enter university with some pocket money, experience and a basic idea of the field you like to study in.

I do see the problem however if you are plan to stay in switzerland for just some years.
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Old 25.01.2019, 15:32
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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This is true. The matura quota is stable at 20% for over 15 years now. I actually like it this way. You can't tell me that 60 % of children are made for a matura and university?

There are a lot of other options for children in switzerland, no need to force them into university if the aren't up to the challenge (yet). Get an apprenticeship, get some working experience and if your able and motivated, going to university afterwards is no problem. You "loose" one or two years in total, but enter university with some pocket money, experience and a basic idea of the field you like to study in.

I do see the problem however if you are plan to stay in switzerland for just some years.
Yes but this means that they're grading on a curve and shifting the goal posts each year to maintain the stats. I know most exam systems have an element of this but it's bloody unlucky if you do well enough on last year's criteria but just miss out when it counts for you.
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Old 25.01.2019, 15:33
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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Is this on a local level? So there really isn't a national level playing field?
Education is cantonal rather than federal so no there is a national Matura.
The whole HarMos thing was supposed to level things out but That has to be accepted and implemented by all the cantons before things change.
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Old 25.01.2019, 15:36
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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Education is cantonal rather than federal so no there is a national Matura.
The whole HarMos thing was supposed to level things out but That has to be accepted and implemented by all the cantons before things change.
Bugger. How is parity ensured? Or isn't it?
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Old 25.01.2019, 15:43
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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Bugger. How is parity ensured? Or isn't it?
As far as I know it isn't. What I do know is that the universities are complaining quite some time about the "student material" they are receiving from the gymis and asking them to set the bar higher. Especially in math.

This might be a neverending story though
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Old 25.01.2019, 15:59
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Re: Swiss Matura or IB

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As far as I know it isn't. What I do know is that the universities are complaining quite some time about the "student material" they are receiving from the gymis and asking them to set the bar higher. Especially in math.

This might be a neverending story though
Ah I see. Similar thing in UK: some undergrads don't have the requisite technical/ research skills. A levels are standardised though!
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