Unified State Exam or else? Russian students' choices of external exams explained.

Russian students have a collection of various types of external exams at their disposal. What is the difference between them and what purpose do they serve?

Unified State Exam (ЕГЭ – единый государственный экзамен), is an external exam administered in selected subjects at the end of Grade 11 (end of secondary school). Results of the exam are used for admission decisions by higher education institutions in Russia. The results of the exam can be verified online for the latest exam year. The results may also be available from individual databases run by specific regional authorities. 

The exam is a set of examinations in at least five separate disciplines. It is intended for general education secondary school leavers as well as basic vocational schools such as the vocational lyceum (профессиональный лицей) or intermediate vocational institution graduates such as tekhnikum (техникум) or college (колледж). Results are used for admission to higher education institutions. The exam is administered nationally from the end of May through June (early exams for selected candidates are available in April)

The exam consists of three parts:

  • Type A: multiple choice questions
  • Type B: Short answers
  • Type C: Expanded open-form answers

Not all questions are expected to be answered. Best students typically complete 70-80% of questions. Each subject has a minimum number of points to be earned to consider it passed (typically between 20-35). Each examination takes from 2.5 to 4 hours.

State Graduation Exam for Grade 9 and Grade 11 students (ГВЭ-9 и ГВЭ-11 – государственный выпускной экзамен в 9 и 11 классах)

Sometimes might be translated as State Final Exam. This is another form of an external exam for students who may not be able to sit the Unified State Exam. It is also a form of the State Final Certification (see below). The exam is similar to the Unified State Exam but slightly easier. To qualify for the exam, the student must undergo a psychological, medical and pedagogical examination. Qualified students include:

  • disabled children, students with disabilities (HH);
  • schoolchildren serving sentences in correctional colonies;
  • students at specialized schools or closed boarding schools.

This exam, if passed successfully, confirms that the student completed secondary education.

The difference between this exam and the Unified State Exam is that universities cannot take it into consideration for admission decisions. Students who are applying to higher education institutions with the State Graduation Exam will be given an institution-based entrance exam. 

State Final Certification (ГИА – государственная итоговая аттестация)

Also translated as State Final Attestation.

This is a mandatory test administered by Rosobrnadzor in cooperation with the local educational authorities.

Special COVID 2021 regulations state that to qualify for graduation,

  • students who do not plan on applying to higher education institutions must pass two compulsory-subject exams: in Russian and Mathematics, in the form of State Graduation Exam.
  • students who are planning on applying to higher education institutions must pass one compulsory-subject exam, Russian, in the form of the Unified State Exam. Basic Mathematics USE was not conducted in 2021. The remaining subjects are elective choices depending on the needs of the prospective institution.

Basic State Exam in Grade 9 (ОГЭ – основной государственный экзамен в 9 классе)

This is the main state exam for students completing Grade 9 which concludes the Basic General Education stage of primary and secondary education in Russia. Results of the examination for the current exam year are also available online



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