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Abitur after twelve years

Abitur after twelve years, or Gymnasium in eight years (often abbreviated as G8 or Gy8) describes the reduction from the duration in the Gymnasium from nine to eight school years in many of the States of Germany. In the States Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the reduction took place from seven to six years because, there, primary education goes until grade 6. The principal argument for the reduction are the comparatively long times for vocational education in Germany.

In Eastern Germany (especially Saxony and Thuringia) it is, however, already a long established norm to take the Abitur after twelve years.[1]

Some German federal states already reverse the reform even though sound academic insights on reform effects are scarce.[2]

State Introduction Change completed Previously in effect
Baden-Württemberg yes 2012
Bavaria 2011
Berlin 2012 1949 until 2000 (East Berlin)
Brandenburg 2012 1949 until 2000
Bremen 2012
Hamburg 2010
Hesse 2013
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2008 1949 until 2001
Lower Saxony 2011
North Rhine-Westphalia 2013
Rhineland-Palatinate yes
(as a pilot project in
full-time schools only)
Saarland yes 2009
Saxony 1949
Saxony-Anhalt 2007 1949 until 2000
Schleswig-Holstein 2016
Thuringia 1949


In part, parents’, teachers’ and students’ organizations express criticism, exclusively from the Western States of Germany.[3] In spite of the removal of one school year, all contents of the, now thirteen, school years are arranged. This means that the school timetable is enlarged and that the students have to be at school between 34 and 36 periods a week. Altogether with the homework given and exam preparations a school week is calculated to include an estimate of 45 up to 50 periods.

However, there is little empirical evidende on the effect of this compression of instructional hours into fewer years of schooling on student outcomes.[4]


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