The official term for Matura in Austria is Reifeprüfung. The document received after the successful completion of the written and oral exams is called Maturazeugnis.

In the gymnasium (AHS = Allgemeinbildende Höhere Schule), which, as opposed to vocational schools, focuses on general education, the Matura consists of 3-4 written exams (referred to as Schriftliche Arbeit, 4-5 hours each) to be taken on consecutive mornings (usually in May) and 3-4 oral exams to be taken on the same half-day about a month later (usually in June). All examinations are held at the school which the candidate last attended. Candidates have to write a scholarly paper (called Vorwissenschaftliche Arbeit) to be submitted at the beginning of February. This paper also needs to be defended in an oral exam.

Vocational schools with a focus on either business and economics or technical subjects, such as commercial academies (HAK = "Handelsakademie") and polytechnics (HTL = "Höhere Technische Lehranstalt") also finish with the Matura, but last five years as opposed to the four-year Oberstufe (upper stage) of the Gymnasium. In vocational schools, an Ausbildungsschwerpunkt is chosen by all students, which then constitutes the main focus of their schooling, and is a compulsory subject at the Matura examinations.

The grading system is the one universally used in Austrian schools: 1 (sehr gut) is excellent; 2 (gut) is good; 3 (befriedigend) is satisfactory; 4 (genügend) is sufficient and 5 (nicht genügend) means that you have failed. In addition, a candidate's Maturazeugnis contains a formalized overall assessment: "mit ausgezeichnetem Erfolg bestanden" (pass with distinction: an average of 1.5 or better, no grade below 3), "mit gutem Erfolg bestanden" (pass with merit: an average of 2.0 or better, no grade below 3), "bestanden" (pass: no grade below 4); and nicht bestanden (fail: at least one grade 5). Candidates who have failed may re-take their exams in September/October or February/March of the following school year.

Compulsory subjects for the written finals are German and Mathematics, as well as a living language (usually English, French, Spanish or Italian).

Since 2015 it is centralised, which has caused a lot of critics. There is just one external examiner: Candidates are set tasks of the oral finals by their own (former) teachers. Formally, however, there is an examination board consisting of a candidate's teachers/examiners, the headmaster/headmistress and a Vorsitzende(r) (head), usually a high-ranking school official or the head of another school. All oral exams are public, but attendance by anyone other than a candidate's former schoolmates is not encouraged, and indeed rare.

It is, of course, possible for Austrians of all age groups to take the Matura. Adults from their twenties on are usually tutored at private institutions of adult education before taking their final tests, held separately before a regional examination board.

Criticism of the Austrian Matura has been persistent. In particular, it has been argued that the current system encourages rote learning (see also education reform), hinders candidates' creativity and obscures the fact that the body of knowledge is constantly changing. Various forms of alternative assessment have been proposed, most notably the portfolio as well as teamwork and peer review also in exam situations.

In fiction, Friedrich Torberg's novel Der Schüler Gerber (1930) about a Matura candidate driven to suicide on the day of his oral exams by his cruel mathematics teacher has become a classic.