What is it like to study in Germany?

Aug 24, 2021 | Blog

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to study in Germany?

In Germany, children may legally stay at home with their parents instead of going to an official nursery or ‘Kita’ (kindergarten) up until they reach six years of age. Although pre-school is also optional in Singapore, parents are encouraged to send their children to kindergarten due to the rigorous nature of education.

And did you know that while homeschooling is legal in Singapore, it’s not in Germany? Let’s have a look at the German education system.

The German education system

In 1990, the German government decided to revamp the education system to put more focus on combining both theoretical and practical applications within the vocational secondary and tertiary sectors. This decision has successfully powered Germany’s economic rise over the years as it prepares youths with the right skills and knowledge to enter the working field.

Germany follows the rules and regulations of the Basic Law “Grundgesetz”. And the Federal Ministries of Education, Cultural Affair and Science is the main authority to create education, science and arts policy guidelines and administrative regulations.

This world-renowned German education system is well-structured, rigorous, and highly accessible to all students—it has produced some of the most accomplished students in the world.

To ensure that education remains accessible to all students, compulsory education is made free for all. And whether or not a student is from a well-to-do family, they can continue their studies up to the university level.

In Germany, students from the age of six to 15 must attend school consistently. But students usually stay in school up until 18 years of age. This is because they are thoroughly evaluated at each stage of their schooling. If a student fails to pass the required grade in two or more subjects, they must repeat the whole year. This is to ensure that students meet the requirements to move up.

Students from the age of six to 10 will attend ‘Grundschule’ or primary school. However, some primary schools run for six years, meaning that the students will be 12 years old in the sixth year. After primary school, students will then go to secondary school. There are five types of secondary schools:

  • Gymnasium – for “academic” students
  • Realschule – for vocation-focused students
  • Hauptschule – for “less academic” students
  • Gesamtschule – a comprehensive school with different education types
  • Integrated schools – Hauptschule and Realschule curricula are merged

Students who have completed secondary education, whether in Germany or abroad, may begin tertiary education. There are three types of higher education offered in Germany:

  • Universitäten (Universities) – Offers a whole range of academic disciplines. Focuses on basic research with theoretical and research-oriented components.
  • Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences) – Study programmes are focused on engineering, technical, business, social work and design, including supervised work assignments in industries and relevant institutions.
  • Kunst- und Musikhochschulen (Universities of Art/Music) – Studies for artistic careers in fine arts, performing arts and music.

How different is studying in Germany and Singapore?

1) Primary education

Germany has four to six years of primary education (from age seven to nine or 12) while Singapore has six years of primary education (from age seven to 12).

2) After school activities

In Germany, after-school activities are not mandatory and are mostly done outside of school. Students may or may not choose to participate in these extra activities.

However, in Singapore, there are co-curricular activities (CCA) and extracurricular activities (ECA) that all students must participate in. These non-academic activities are responsible for the holistic growth of the students.

3) School Holiday

While the dates of school holidays are similar for all schools in Singapore, it is not in Germany. For example, students in Berlin public schools get to enjoy their summer break around June 20 until August 2 but students in Bavaria have their summer break around July 19 until September 9. These dates change every year.

4) Grading System

Germany follows a 6-mark grading system. The highest is 1 or ‘sehr gut’ (very good). And the average score is 2,6 to 3,5, or ‘befriedigend’, which is satisfactory. This is the German grading system:

1 – Very good
2 – Good
3 – Satisfactory
4 – Adequate
5 – Poor
6 – Very poor

However, in Singapore, “Achievements Band” are used for primary three to four with Band 1 as the highest score and Band 4 as the lowest. In primary five to six, grades A*, A, B, C, D, E, U are used with A* as the highest grade.

In Singapore, the majority of secondary schools follow the Singapore-Cambridge GCE “O” level examination grading system:

Grade Percentage  Grade Description
A1 75% and above Distinction
A2 70% to 74% Distinction
B3 65% to 69% Merit
B4 60% to 64% Merit
C5 55% to 59% Credit
C6 50% to 54% Credit
D7 45% to 49% Sub-Pass/Fail
E8 40% to 44% Fail
F9 Below 40% Fail


What you need to know if you wish to study in Germany

Germany has an array of different universities for you to choose from. If you wish to study in Germany, you need to see the requirements depending on your school-leaving certificate.

If you completed your A-levels, you need to pass a total of four independent general education subjects at the Advanced Level, including 3 subjects at H2-level and one subject at H1-level. If you have a Polytechnic Diploma, you cannot get direct admission to German universities. However, you can qualify for subject-restricted admission to universities of applied sciences. On the other hand, International Baccalaureate (IB) holders are required to fulfil certain subjects to apply for universities in Germany.

Interested in expanding your reach and studying overseas? If you’d like to study or work in Germany, you need to at least have a basic understanding of the German language. You can determine your German language proficiency by taking a language test, such as taking the Goethe Certificate C2, DSH, or the TestDaF. However, you are not required to learn the German language if you enrol in an international degree programme.

To learn German with us, you can visit our page at https://www.learngerman.com.sg/. To find out more about our classes, get in touch with us now!



Admission Requirements | DAAD Singapore. (n.d.). DAAD Singapore. Retrieved August 18, 2021, from

B. (2019, December 23). German Education System. Studying in Germany.

German Education System. (n.d.). Expatrio.Com. Retrieved August 18, 2021, from 

Grading System in Singapore, Student Assessment in Singapore. (n.d.). Singaporeeducation.Info. Retrieved August 18, 2021, from

Higher education system in Germany – ECApedia. (2017, May 23). ECA. 

Jess and Seb. (2021, June 13). Growing up in Germany vs Singapore: Education Systems & School Life [Video]. YouTube.

Singapore. (2021, August 9). NCEE. https://ncee.org/country/singapore/


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