5 key facts about the probation period in a Swiss Gymnasium

All you need to know about the Swiss Gymnasium probation period

Below are some of the questions my clients ask about the probation period or Probezeit for the Zürich Gymnasium.

1. What is the probation period?

Students need to pass a 6 months probation period (Probezeit) in Gymnasium. During this time, they will have to “prove” themselves, i.e. show that they can cope with the demands of the Gymi.

2. What happens if my child doesn’t pass the probation period?

Students who do not meet the requirements, will have to change over to secondary school (Sek A). after the Sports holidays in February. Students may change to Gymnasium again after 2 or 3 years in Sekundar without having to sit the entrance exam again. 

3. How do we know how my son is doing?

Students receive feedback (Briefs) on their performance in November, in the so-called interim evaluation (Zwischenbericht). 

  Brief I: Grades/performance sufficient so far

  Brief 2: Performance/grades sufficient but just about 

  Brief 3: Performance might not be sufficient to successfully pass the probation period.

4. How long does the probation period last?

The probation period ends with the first semester and after the grade reports in January.

5. Which subjects count and how are the grades weighted?

  • Every subject counts (except for sports/PE)
  • All subjects have equal weight with the exception of Music and artistic design (Musik und Bildnerischem Gestalten). In this case, the average of both grades counts as one grade (quarter grades are rounded up)
  • Required average grade in all subject is a pass (4)
  • A maximum of 3 grades below 4 (fail)
  • Every grade below pass needs to be “doubly compensated” (doppelte Kompensation)

6. How does the “double compensation” work? 

Students need to double compensate every grade (Note) below a 4 in every subject (Fach). An average of 4 is the equivalent of 32 grade points


Grade 3.5 = 1⁄2 minus point (Minuspunkt)
Double compensation: 2x 1⁄2 = 1 plus point (Pluspunkt); e.g. 2x 4.5 or 1 x 5

(Source: Gymnasium Freudenberg Zürich)

7. Help, my child has not passed the trial period!
What are our options?

Your child has a number of different options! Below are just some of the many possible pathways:

Option A: A second attempt at Gymnasium after 2 or 3 years in Sekundarschule

Option B: Change to a private Gymnasium with more support

Option C: Change to a Fachmittelschule (specialist middle school) and specialise in Commerce, IT or Tourism/teacher training for KG or primary school. 

Option D: Change to a private school offering an alternative curriculum (IB or A-levels)

Option: E: 2 years in Sekundarschule followed by vocational training and a Berufsmatura (professional university entrance degree for the university of applied sciences)

Would you like to discuss your childs’ options in more detail?

Book a 50-min private online consultation with your local school expert! 

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