Thousands of young people test for Tallinn's top upper secondary schools

Schools in the center of Tallinn have been organizing joint tests for many years.
Schools in the center of Tallinn have been organizing joint tests for many years. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

There are thousands of applicants for the most popular upper secondary schools in Tallinn, with seven to eight young people applying for a place. There are also pupils who take examinations to test their knowledge and do not intend to go to one of these schools. Statistics show that about 3,600 upper secondary level pupils need places in Tallinn.

In Tallinn, four municipal schools in the city center: Tallinn Secondary School of Science (Reaalkool), Tallinn 21st School (Tallinna 21. Kool), Tallinn English College (Tallinna Inglise Kolledž) and Gustav Adolf Grammar School (Gustav Adolfi Gümnaasium, or GAGS) are organizing joint entrance examinations to general upper secondary school again this year. After compulsory basic education that lasts nine years from grades 1 to 9, the upper secondary school is arranged into mandatory and voluntary classes and last for three years, between ages 17 and 19, leading to studies at a higher or vocational education.

2235 young people took part in the comparative knowledge test in mid-March, and will find out their results and whether they will proceed to the interview round this Friday at 4 p.m.

Young people were asked to rank their schools in order of preference, and most students chose GAGS as their first choice. "Our school was marked as the first preference by 47 percent of the students who took the test, a total of 1,047 young people. We were the second preference to 706 pupils," Moonika Tambik, head of the GAG's upper secondary studies, said. There are places for 145 young people in the GAGS upper secondary level.

Tambik said that not everyone who takes the test wants to change schools. "We also have test takers from Tartu and Pärnu, for example; they come from good local schools and probably just want to test themselves. I do not remember anyone from Tartu Miina Härma High School who actually come to study with us," Tambik said.

Tambik says that, based on the number of young people who chose GAGS as their first choice, it really does look like their school is the most popular in this year's four-school tests. "That is because we have a broad spectrum of subjects," Tambik explains. In total, there are eight different tracks at the GAGS, and according to Tambik, entrepreneurship is the most popular. "Interest in environmental sciences is rather modest, however, which is surprising because it is such a contemporary topic," Tambik said.

Tallinn 21st School has been marked as the first choice by 560 young people who have taken the test, Raido Kahm, the school's head of education, said. The school will be able to offer places to 115-116 students.

At the Tallinn 21st School, the general upper secondary school has three parallel tracks, with subjects such as science and natural sciences, English and international relations, and socio-humanities. "All of them have equal numbers of students, but it could be said that girls are more interested in humanities and boys and girls are equally interested in science. However, it's not so much the number of applicants that counts when it comes to admission, but the number of serious applicants. For example, there are fewer applicants in the real and natural sciences, but the competition is fierce," Kahm said.

As at the GAGS, pupils who have completed primary school in the High School 21 also have to take tests. "All the schools in Tallinn's city center have the same reason for organizing the tests: there are a lot of people who want to take them, and there are also a lot of primary schools in the area, and that is where the young people who have studied there should go. That is why this competition is a fair one," Kahm said.

According to him, the upper secondary classes of Tallinn 21st School will be filled by June.

600 young people took the knowledge test at the Tallinn English College, and now the school is in the process of interviews and vocational tests. 130 young people will be admitted.

"This year we received fewer applications than in previous years, and we have had close to 800 applications," Mairi Aas, the school's secretary, said.

One of the most popular municipal schools in Tallinn, located outside the city center, is Tallinn High School 32 (Tallinna 32. Keskkool), where 1,104 young people applied. According to the school's office in Mustamäe, the school will be able to offer places to 144 young people, who will start in the fourth grade. "The school is very popular and it is not unusual for us to have such a large number of applicants," said the school's registrar. The school is said to be popular with young people for its theater studies.

The test for admission to the High School 32 took place in February and interviews with candidates are currently underway and will run until mid-April.

There is high demand for state upper secondary schools as well

Statistics on the number of enrollments in Harju County and Tallinn show that there is also a high demand for these schools, which only comprise the three years of upper secondary level. The Mustamäe State High School has the highest number of applicants, with 1,095 young people indicating it as their first choice. A total of 2,490 young people want to go there, with 360 places. Pelgulinna State High School is the first choice for 581 young people, with a total of 1,830 applicants for 360 places.

Admissions to state upper secondary schools in Harju County and Tallinn will take place on April 1.

The number of pupils studying in the 9th grade under the national basic school curriculum is 14,553, of whom 4,822 are in Tallinn.

Over the last few years, an average of 75 percent of students continue to study in general education in Tallinn. On average, 25 percent of pupils continue in secondary vocational education, according to the ministry of education and research.

The statistics show that there are about 3,600 students in need of a place in Tallinn. There are currently 3,159 pupils in the 10th grade of Tallinn's municipal schools.

"If Tallinn continues to admit the same number of students and the state creates 900 additional study places in Tallinn's 10th grades, then there will be a total of 4,000 study places in general education 10th grades, i.e. study places will be guaranteed for all applicants who successfully pass the entrance exams," Anni Eerik, a communications expert at the ministry said.


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Editor: Mari Peegel, Kristina Kersa

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