Senior general secondary education (HAVO) and pre university education (VWO)

HAVO and VWO prepare pupils for higher professional education (HBO) and university studies, respectively. HAVO takes five years, while VWO takes six years.

Entrance requirements for HAVO and VWO

Secondary schools make their own decisions on whether or not to admit individual pupils, based on the advice of the pupil’s primary school. Pupils also take the primary school leavers attainment test at the end of primary school. If a pupil’s results are better than expected, the school must reconsider its advice about a suitable type of secondary school. In exceptional cases, secondary schools may also set their own entrance tests, for instance if they offer special programmes for talented pupils (e.g. in dance, music and sport).

Lower years of HAVO and VWO

In the lower years (i.e. years 1, 2 and 3), all HAVO and VWO pupils follow a general curriculum.

Common compulsory component in the upper years of HAVO and VWO

The following subjects are compulsory for all pupils in the upper years (years 4 and 5 of HAVO, and years 4, 5 and 6 of VWO):

  • Dutch;
  • English;
  • physical education;
  • culture & the arts;
  • social studies;
  • mathematics (VWO pupils only);
  • a second foreign language (VWO pupils only).

Specialised component in the upper years of HAVO and VWO

In the upper years (years 4 and 5 of HAVO, and years 4, 5 and 6 of VWO), in addition to the common compulsory subjects, pupils choose one of four subject combinations:

  • science and technology;
  • science and health;
  • economics and society;
  • culture and society.

Each subject combination has a compulsory specialised component which includes a project relating to the pupil’s specialised subjects. In addition, students choose one or two optional subjects relating to their subject combination and one other optional subject. For their school leaving examinations, HAVO pupils take seven subjects and VWO pupils take eight. The other subjects are tested in an examination set by the school.

The knowledge and skills that pupils are required to have by the end of their school career are set out in attainment targets.