Upper secondary education

Preparing for university

Upper secondary education

Once students in Denmark have reached the age of 16 or 17 and have completed their primary and lower secondary education, the vast majority then go into upper secondary education which lasts until the student reaches the age of 20.

General upper secondary education

The 3-year Gymnasium (STX) and the 2-year Higher Preparatory Examination Course (HF) are the most common routes for students who choose to go into upper secondary education. These courses offer a range of academically-orientated courses to students in order to prepare them for studying at university.

Each course has their own compulsory subjects that all students are obliged to take as well as a range of optional subjects. The courses are usually taught in Danish, though they are also available in English, German and French.

Subjects are divided into three ‘levels’ according to how much teaching time is allocated. The levels are ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’, with category ‘A’ subjects taking up the most teaching time.

Danish grading system and examination

The Danish mark scheme operates on a 7-point scale:

12: Excellent
10: Very good
07: Good
04: Fair
02: Adequate
00: Inadequate
-3: Unacceptable

Students generally receive grades at the end of each term for all of their subjects, as well as examination results.

Some exams are compulsory for every student on the course. All students must also hand in a major piece of examined coursework, either in the form of a written assignment or a project.

Examinations can be written, oral, project assessments or a combination of the three. Students are generally allowed to use various aids during their exams, including IT.

The pass mark for the course is 02, calculated as a weighted average of the student’s marks over the course of the term as well as in exams. How much each mark weighs towards the final mark depends on whether the subject is in category ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’.

Upper secondary student finances

Upper secondary education is covered by the state, so students do not have to pay anything towards tuition. However, schools may require students to pay for some resources and materials themselves such as dictionaries and calculators.The amount a student pays towards education is not allowed to exceed DKK 2,500.

Students are also eligible for Danish Education Support (SU) if they are current students, are at least 18-years-old and are Danish citizens; though in some cases it is possible for non-citizens to be entitled to SU.

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: