Pre-Higher Education

Basic Education (Ensino Básico) lasts for nine years divided into three stages of four, two and three years respectively. The stages are respectively 1º Ciclo (1st Cycle), 2º Ciclo (2nd Cycle) and 3º Ciclo (3rd Cycle). A Diploma/Certificate is awarded at the end of the third stage. Secondary Education (Ensino Secundário)- public, private or cooperative - is compulsory since the school year of 2012/2013 and consists of a three-year cycle after basic education.

Access to Secondary Education is made through the Certificate of Basic Education. There are three types of programmes: general programmes, technical/vocational programmes, and artistic programmes, providing instruction in technical, technological, professional fields and in the Portuguese language and culture. Permeability between the programmes is guaranteed. The teaching and practice of technical, technological or artistic programmes are provided by vocational schools and special schools for education in Arts.

Programmes are sanctioned by the Certificado de Habilitações do Ensino Secundário/Diploma de Ensino Secundário (Secondary School Credential/Diploma), which is the prerequisite for access to higher education through national access examination.

Basic education
In Portugal, Basic Education consists of nine years of schooling divided into three sequential cycles of education of four, two and three years.

Children aged six by 15 September must be enrolled in their first school year in that calendar year. In addition, children who reach the age of six between 16 September and 31 December may be authorized to attend the first stage of education, provided a request is submitted by their parents or guardians to the school nearest to their residence (or place of work) during the annual enrollment period. State-run schools are free of charge; private school tuition is refunded by the State in part or fully, when state-run schools in the area are filled to capacity. The first cycle of basic mandatory education covers years 1st-4th, the second cycle years 5th-6th and the third cycle years 7th-9th. The curriculum contains only general education until the 9th year at which point vocational subjects are introduced.

At the end of each cycle, students take national evaluation exams for the subjects of Portuguese Language and Mathematics. Schools do not give (or sell) any books or materials; financial assistance is available for poorer families. The school books are chosen at school's level every four years.

1st Cycle State-run schools are owned by the municipalities; all other State-run schools are owned by the State.
At State-run schools, 1st Cycle students and kindergarten students get free mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks, generally consisting of a 20 cl milk carton.

1º Ciclo - 1st Cycle
1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th years

General subjects:
Portuguese Language
Environment Study
Enrichment Activities:
English Language
Artistic Education
Physical Education
Musical Education
Catholic (or other confessions) Moral and Religious Education

2º Ciclo - 2nd Cycle
5th and 6th years
Portuguese Language
History and Geography of Portugal
English (levels 1 and 2)
Natural Sciences
Visual Education (Arts)
Technological Education (Crafts)
Physical Education
Musical Education
Catholic (or other confessions) Moral and Religious Education (facultative)

3º Ciclo - 3rd Cycle
7th, 8th and 9th years
Portuguese Language
English (levels 3, 4 and 5)
2nd Foreign language - French, Spanish or German (levels 1, 2 and 3)
Natural Sciences
Physics and Chemistry
Physical Education
Visual Education (Arts)*
Technological Education (Crafts)*
Computer and IT / an alternative of the school (only in 7th and 8th years)
Catholic (or other confessions) Moral and Religious Education (facultative)
(*) In the 9th year the student has to choose between Visual Education, Technological Education, Music and Drama, according to the school's availability.

Secondary education
It is only after the 9th year of basic schooling that the Portuguese General Education system branches out into different secondary programmes, a higher education-oriented (general secondary programmes), a work-oriented (technological secondary programmes) and an artistic-oriented programme. The conclusion of secondary education (general, technological or artistic programmes) with passing grades confers a diploma, which will certificate the qualification thus obtained and, in the case of work-oriented programmes the qualification for specific jobs. All General and Technological programmes share the following subjects known as General Formation:

Portuguese Language (10th, 11th and 12th years)
Physical Education (10th, 11th and 12th years)
Philosophy (10th and 11th years)
Foreign Language (10th and 11th years)
Catholic (or other confessions) Moral and Religious Education (10th, 11th and 12th years - facultative)

General Programmes
Sciences and Technologies
Main subject - 10th, 11th and 12th years - Mathematics A
Specific subjects - 10th and 11th years - Biology and Geology, Descriptive Geometry, Physics and Chemistry (two of these)
Optional subjects - 12th year - Biology, Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology or others (two of these)
Social and Human Sciences
Main subject - 10th, 11th and 12th years - History A
Specific subjects - 10th and 11th years - Geography, Foreign Language II (or III), Portuguese Literature, Math Applied to Social Sciences (two of these)
Optional subjects - 12th year - Law, Sociology, Latin, Geography, Psychology, Philosophy, Economics or others (two of these)
Socio-Economic Sciences
Main subject - 10th, 11th and 12th years - Mathematics A
Specific subjects - 10th and 11th years - Economics, History B, Geography (two of these)
Optional subjects - 12th year - Economics, Geography, Sociology, Psychology, Law or others (two of these)
Visual Arts
Main subject - 10th, 11th and 12th years - Drawing A
Specific subjects - 10th and 11th years - Descriptive Geometry, Mathematics B, History of Culture and Art (two of these)
Optional subjects - 12th year - Art Atelier, Multimedia Atelier, Materials and Technologies, Psychology, Philosophy or others (two of these)

Professional Programmes
Architect Technician
Civil Construction
Equipment Design
Environment and Territory Order
Social Action
Social Animation

Specialized Artistic Programmes
Drama and Cinema
Visual and Audiovisual Arts

Access to higher education
At the end of 11th grade, students have national exams in the two specific subjects of their course. At the end of the 12th grade, the exams are in Portuguese language and the main subject of the course. The access to higher education is made through a national online process, where the students enter the college by priority based on their grades.

The average of grades obtained in all subjects (except Physical Education) represents a part of the application grade to enter college. The other part is based on the grade of the specific exams that the college requests, which are related with the course the student is applying for. The average of both averages is the application grade to college. That number is between zero and 20; the higher it is, the better the chance to enter the college.