Abitur after twelve years

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Abitur after twelve years, or Gymnasium in eight years (often abbreviated as G8 or Gy8) describes the reduction from the duration in the Gymnasium from nine to eight school years in many of the States of Germany. In the States Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern the reduction took place from seven to six years because, there, primary education goes until grade 6. The principal argument for the reduction are the comparatively long times for vocational education in Germany.

In Eastern Germany (especially Saxony and Thuringia) it is, however, already a long established norm to take the Abitur after twelve years.[1]

Some German federal states already reverse the reform even though sound academic insights on reform effects are scarce.[2]

State Introduction Previously in effect
Baden-Württemberg yes (2012- )
Bavaria abolished 2012 until 2018
Berlin yes (2012- ) 1949 until 2000 (East Berlin)
Brandenburg yes (2012- ) 1949 until 2000
Bremen yes (2012- )
Hamburg yes (2010- )
Hesse yes (2013- )
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern yes (2008- ) 1949 until 2001
Lower Saxony abolished 2011 until 2015
North Rhine-Westphalia yes (2012- )
Rhineland-Palatinate yes (2016- )
(as a pilot project in
full-time schools only)
Saarland yes (2009- )
Saxony yes (1949- )
Saxony-Anhalt yes (2007- ) 1949 until 2000
Schleswig-Holstein yes (2016- )
Thuringia yes (1949- )


In part, parents’, teachers’ and students’ organizations express criticism, exclusively from the Western States of Germany.[3] In spite of the removal of one school year, all contents of the, now thirteen, school years are arranged. This means that the school timetable is enlarged and that the students have to be at school between 32 and 40 periods a week. Altogether with the homework given and exam preparations a school week is calculated to include an estimate of 45 up to 55 periods.

However, there is little empirical evidence on the effect of this compression of instructional hours into fewer years of schooling on student outcomes.[4]


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