Vanessa Oloba

28, April 2018

The American standardized test: the ACT vs the French standardized test: the BAC


In my project, I studied the differences and similarities between my school Edmond North High School in Edmond Oklahoma and Lycée Marie Curie in Nogent Sois. For my research, I compared the way each school prepares for their standardized tests- the ACT and SAT for America and the Baccalauréat for France using various kinds of techniques such as questionnaires and interviews. During my two week stay at Marie Curie, I had learned so much information and data about the Baccalauréat to efficiently explain the purpose and of my project.

As a French learner, I had wanted to do this research topic to better relate the two foreign countries France and America, and describe how much more learning a language can help one learn and be immersed in a foreign country.  Once able to speak the country's language, it broadens one's understanding of that country and helps him or her relate it to his or her own country.  I needed to explain that no matter what one may think about each exam, it causes stress on both the lives of the students and that we are just teenagers going through the similar stress of growing up and finding our own career paths. I did that very thing by creating questionnaires for both the students in Edmond North about the ACT and the ones in Marie Curie and by interviewing and conversing with students in Marie Curie about the Baccalauréat.

I picked this topic because I thought it would be super interesting to learn more about the French school system, and how it compares to that of America.


During my stay at Marie Curie, I interviewed classes of many kinds: some classes had students who had already taken the Baccalauréat, students who were about to take the Baccalauréat, and new-year students. For my research, I split into groups and interviewed, recorded, and passed out questionnaires to the students. In my interview, I asked them general questions about the layout of the Baccalauréat, what year they must take it, and if they felt prepared to take it. Further, I explained to them how the ACT or SAT worked in America and compared it to the testing in France. I also asked how the Baccalauréat affected their future for university and their career choices.

Background about the Baccalauréat

In my findings, I learned how the Baccalauréat was set up. The Baccalauréat is set up of these main Subjects: Mathematics, Language, Geography, History, Literature, Science, and Physical Education. Marie Curie is a specialized school in science, so they have more classes and lessons specific to it.

The Baccalauréat is on a scale of 1 to 21 points, but to pass it one must get a score of at least 10. Consequences, of not getting a 10, means one must start over the whole year and try again.

Altogether, the BAC is taken over a duration of two years, starting at the premier year and ending at the terminal year Students find out their score in June. There are also different types of Baccalauréats, - Technological, Professional, and General. The general BAC offers more opportunities than the others for careers after school, while the other exams or more specific to career choices you see yourself doing. In taking the BAC, all students must test for physical wellness and pick three sports to play. If it so happens one fails to pass the Baccalauréat, if he or she scored a 9 on the exam, he or she can retest certain sections to make up his or her points. Another thing that I learned was that before even taking the Baccalauréat, the students had already chosen and been accepted into university. The Baccalauréat, is only a requirement and does not determine whether a person will be accepted into university. However, if one fails to pass the exam, the acceptance is withdrawn. In France, the test score does not solidify chances of being accepted into university but one's grades, behavior and teacher recommendations. Once one gets over the hurdle of obtaining at least a score of 10, he or she is set to go. If a student takes the Baccalauréat and does an amazing job, he or she will be given a certificate and a congratulation. The congratulations defer in: average-10, good-14 or 15, quite good over 12, and very good-over 16. If a student gets a high score like a 21 he or she can earn spending money for his or her wallet.

The Baccalauréat at Marie Curie

Most of the students at Marie Curie felt prepared enough to take the exam and believed that their school effectively helped them to pass the test. The students also recommended that other students should study, pay attention and do his or her work in class to be successfully ready to put pen to paper. Although it seems quite difficult in the eyes of Americans, I was told that in a few years the Baccalauréat was changing into an easier exam for students, to make it easier for them to pass like that of the United States in some way. The students when asked to give advice to the younger students said, “not to stress” and that although it seems important now in high school, there are many other exams one has to take for his or her careers after the Baccalauréat that are more challenging.

Background over the two standardized American Tests

In the United States students can choose between taking the SAT and ACT. The SAT is on a scale of 1 to 1600, while the ACT is on a grading scale of 1 to 36.

The Similarities and Differences between Preparation

Like Edmond North high school, Marie Curie gives pre-exams that prepare the students for the real Baccalauréat. In Edmond North the schools organize pre-tests for the ACT- the pre-ACT and the SAT- the PSAT. Both schools also hold mandatory standardized tests. Unlike Marie Curie, Edmond North only gives free ACT exams for seniors.

The Similarities and Differences between the exams

Unlike the BAC, The ACT is made up of four sections: Math, Science, Reading, and English. Using questionnaires, I learned that the students at my school felt prepared to take the exams. Like the BAC, a good ACT or SAT score does not ensure one will get accepted into university. Although it does help with scholarships, these exams are requirements one must have when applying to university.


From my trip to France I learned a lot about my project. I realized that even though that even though we live in different countries, us students still feel the stress of growing up and looking into career paths. Although these exams seem super important right now in the present, students need to remember that it is only for a little while. Doing this project made me realize that in a way these two countries are more similar than they are different. This has personally motivated me to peruse learning foreign language more.