In Hungary children go to the infant’s nursery when they are 2 or 3 years old. When they turn 4 or 5, they go to the kindergarten. In many kindergarten they are taught how to count and read so that they have an advantage when applying for elementary school.
Elementary school lasts 8 years. It starts when children turn six and finishes with a comprehensive exam when they turn 14. There’s a possibility for 4 grade students to go to a six-class high-school if they want to.
Secondary school (high-school) begins at the age of 15. There are different types of secondary schools. You can choose a szakközépiskola where you learn math, literature, history (mandatory subjects) plus a profession like technician, joiner and so on…
Or you can go to a gimnázium which you attend 4 or 5 years and then you graduate with the final exam (érettségi). The érettségi can be a standard exam or a high-level exam. Every student has to take the exam on math, literature, history. Then you can choose if you want to sit exam on subjects like biology, geography, physics, chemistry or on a foreign language.
The goal is that children can speak at least two languages. So elementary school teaches a foreign language and in high-school they start learning a second foreign language. The favourite foreign languages are English, German, Italian, Spanish.
Note that infant’s nursery and kindergarten are not mandatory, however, the education is mandatory up to the age of 16. It means that elementary school and most of the high school years must be attended.
After high-school, you go to college (főiskola) or to a university (egyetem). An egyetem has a higher value than a college. Depending on what course you choose, it can take 2, 3, 4 or even 5 years until you take your degree.
AGE / EDUCATION > YEARS
2-3 / infant’s nursery > 2 years
4-5 / kindergarten > 2 years
6-14 / elementary school > 8 years
15-18 / secondary school > 4 years
19- / college, university > varying
During the college years you can be given a loan (diákhitel = student credit) which you start paying back after you finishing the college and finding a job.
Of course, you can also have a scholarship (ösztöndíj) if you were an excellent student in high-school.