In Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia, high school students sat down for their written Abitur exams on Tuesday.
The Abitur – the high school leaving exam – is of critical importance to the rest of students’ lives, with only the very best being able to go on to study certain subjects at university, such as law or medicine.
A perfect result is a 1.0, but scores can drop all the way down to a 4.0.
If bright young minds want to get into a medicine course, they almost always need a 1.0.
The survey of average Abitur marks published by the assembly of German state education ministers at the end of 2016 shows that Thuringia has the best scores, with students being awarded an average score of 2.2 in 2015.
Saxony-Anhalt was the worst performing east German state, with an average score of 2.4.
In the former West meanwhile, average scores ranged from 2.3 in Bavaria to 2.6 in Lower Saxony.
But because education is controlled at the state level, it is difficult to compare students across state borders. This state of affairs is often criticized as disadvantaging students from states which mark students most stringently when they apply to university.
An investigation by Spiegel in 2015 showed that Thuringia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Saarland are the toughest markers on Abitur students.