German word of the day: Das Abitur

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Nele Schröder - [email protected]
German word of the day: Das Abitur
Quiet please! Photo: DPA

Our word of the day relates to a popular news story about German students launching petitions over their 'too difficult' maths exam. Let us fill you in on the Abi.


As The Local reported, tens of thousands of German students have been protesting this week against their mathematics Abitur. But what exactly is an "Abitur"?  You have come to the right place.

SEE ALSO: Thousands of German students protest against maths exam deemed too difficult

The Abitur is a national set of exams for German students who are leaving secondary school for university.

These exams usually take place in May and mark the end of school for students.

For many pupils, they are very important. That is because the average grade of all the combined exams determines whether or not  you get accepted to your dream university course. Hence, an Abitur can shape future careers.

In England, an Abitur can be translated into “A-Levels”, because it is a similar concept. Abitur can also be called “high school certificate,” as it shows that you have finished high school and can go to university, an even higher school, basically.

Or, if you want to keep it very simple, just call them “final exams” – most people in Germany will know what you mean.

Photo: DPA

The word Abitur comes from the Latin word abire, which means “to leave” and from the Latin word abiturire, which means “wanting to depart.” Before the late 19th century, the final exams have been called Abiturium. Ever since then, the word has gone through different abbreviating processes – today the word Abitur is the most common amongst non-students. Most students simply call it Abi.

The Abitur in Germany varies from state to state.  It can, therefore, lead to questions over the difficulty levels in different regions. Some people say the Abitur is more difficult in Bavaria and Saxony, for example, and it's not so hard in Hamburg and Berlin.

We don't know if that's true, but it's fair to say the Abitur system has a lot of critics.

And, if you ask the German students who've been signing petitions this week, they are certainly not in favour of this year's maths Abitur.


Hast du dein Abitur bestanden?

Did you pass your final exams?

Was willst du nach dem Abitur machen?

What do you want to do after your final exams?

Mein Abitur hat mich in eine Lebenskrise gestürzt.

My final exams caused a personal life crisis.



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