The French Baccalauréat is a national diploma, which is the culmination of a pre-university level program taken in secondary school. It was created in 1808 and is administered and managed by the French Ministry of Education. The Ministry defines the programs (curricula) and develops and administers the exam. The students’ exams are evaluated by teachers accredited by the Ministry of National Education, which thereby guarantees the reliability of the results achieved by the candidates. The program ensures both a broad general cultural knowledge by the number and the variety of required subjects, and a specialization in a particular subject (Science, Economics or Liberal Arts). The Baccalauréat encourages the development and demonstration of critical reasoning, both in writing and orally. All of the parts of the exam (which generally last 3-4 hours each) require an essay that allows the candidate to demonstrate his or her in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, and also his or her skills in analysis, synthesis and extrapolation. In France, the Baccalauréat is considered the first diploma in higher education and, therefore, it grants its holder the right to enter any French university. Elsewhere, particularly in the United States, the exam is recognized as a highly demanding program. It gives access worldwide to the best colleges and very often gives credits. In the United States, bilingual students may also opt to take : - the French Baccalauréat with Option Internationale (OIB) which is totally different from the International Baccalauréat (IB) - or the French American Baccalauréat (see further) In 2009, 535,200 students sat the Baccalauréat in France. In the network of French schools throughout the world (AEFE network), more than 10,000 students took the French Baccalauréat.
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