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In France, the agrégation (French pronunciation: [aɡʁeɡasjɔ̃]) is the most prestigious and selective civil service competitive examination for the public education system. The laureates are known as agrégés, and the candidates as agrégatifs. A similar system exists in other countries.
Due to the difficulty and the selectivity of this competitive exam it often requires more than one year of preparation.
There are actually two different agrégations: an agrégation for secondary education, leading to the position of professeur agrégé, and an agrégation for professorships in some disciplines of higher education.
The main agrégation, the most common one, leads the candidates to the position of professeur agrégé after secondary education. The difficulty and selectivity (number of available positions) vary from one discipline to another: there are about 300 such positions open each year in mathematics, but usually fewer positions for humanities and social sciences (only around 20 for philosophy, for instance), and perhaps only one seat in some rarely taught foreign languages such as Japanese. The professeurs agrégés constitute a higher category of teachers compared to the professeurs certifiés, recruited through the CAPES. In theory, the agrégés are expected to teach at high school level (lycées) and also at university, while the certifiés teach in junior high schools (collèges), but there is a significant overlap.
In addition to the vast majority of agrégés teaching in lycées, some agrégés teach in the preparatory classes to the grandes écoles. Finally, some agrégés teach in regular universities, but do not, nominally, do scientific research as regular university academics do; the positions are known as PRAG. Some similar but temporary positions (agrégé préparateur, AGPR), including research, exist in the écoles normales supérieures, but they are obviously very few and very hard to obtain.
The agrégation is normally open only to holders of a five-year university education (master) or above. There is also an internal agrégation for professeurs certifiés, but it lacks the prestige of the external one. The following discusses the external one.
The competitive exam generally consists of a written session (admissibility), composed of numerous dissertations and analysis of documents, when most candidates are eliminated.
The remaining candidates have then to go through an oral part (admission), composed of different oral exams in which candidates must demonstrate their ability to prepare and give lessons on any topic within the scope of his discipline. The oral exams provide the opportunity to verify that the candidates possesses the appropriate oral skills and masters the main exercises of their discipline: for example, in the Agrégation of Classics (French, Greek, Latin), candidates have to translate and comment on classical texts and texts from French literature. It is a way to establish whether candidates are able to fulfill requirements that they are going to need to satisfy if they make the cut.
In most disciplines, the lessons expected extend well above the secondary education level; indeed, the candidate may even have to present a lesson appropriate for the second, third or even fourth years of specialized courses at the university level. One reason is that the agrégés should be able to teach in special undergraduate sections of high schools, known as preparatory classes to the grandes écoles and very similar in nature to grammar schools, and the level may be far above the normal level of the first or second year of college education.
The agrégation is also used as an unofficial national ranking system for students, giving a fair comparison between students of different universities. That is especially true in the humanities for which the agrégation is highly selective and supposedly demonstrates erudition of the candidate.
Students of the écoles normales supérieures as well as graduate students who have just completed their master's degree often dedicate an entire year of their curriculum to prepare for the agrégation.
List of agrégations for secondary education
- Enseignement des langues vivantes
- Agrégation d'allemand (Agrégation of German language)
- Agrégation d'anglais (Agrégation of English language)
- Agrégation d'arabe (Agrégation of Arabic language)
- Agrégation de chinois (Agrégation of Chinese language)
- Agrégation d'espagnol (Agrégation of Spanish language)
- Agrégation d'hébreu moderne (Agrégation of Hebrew language)
- Agrégation d'italien (Agrégation of Italian language)
- Agrégation de japonais (Agrégation of Japanese language)
- Agrégation de polonais (Agrégation of Polish language)
- Agrégation de russe (Agrégation of Russian language)
- Agrégation de portugais (Agrégation of Portuguese language)
- Lettres et sciences humaines
- Agrégation d'histoire (Agrégation of history)
- Agrégation de géographie (Agrégation of geography)
- Agrégation de grammaire (Agrégation of grammar)
- Agrégation de lettres classiques (Agrégation of classics)
- Agrégation de lettres modernes (Agrégation of modern literature)
- Agrégation de philosophie (Agrégation of philosophy)
- Agrégation de sciences économiques et sociales (Agrégation of economics and social sciences)
- Agrégation d'économie/gestion (Agrégation of economics and management) :
- option A : économie et gestion administrative,
- option B : économie et gestion compatible et financière,
- option C : économie et gestion commerciale,
- option D : économie, informatique et gestion.
- Enseignement des sciences naturelles et physiques
- Agrégation de mathématiques (Agrégation of mathematics)
- option informatique théorique
- option statistique et probabilité
- option calculs scientifique
- option algèbre formelle
- Agrégation de sciences de la vie - sciences de la Terre et de l'Univers (Agrégation of biology-geology)
- Agrégation de sciences physiques (Agrégation of physics-chemistry)
- option physique
- option chimie
- option physique appliquée
- option procédés physico-chimiques
- Enseignement professionnel et technique
- Agrégation de biochimie - génie biologique (Agrégation of biochemistry - biology)
- Agrégation de génie civil (Agrégation of civil engineering)
- Agrégation de génie mécanique (Agrégation of mechanical engineering)
- Agrégation de génie électrique (Agrégation of electrical engineering)
- Agrégation de mécanique (Agrégation of mechanics)
- Enseignements artistiques
- Agrégation d'arts : (Agrégation of arts)
- option arts plastiques (Agrégation of visual arts)
- option arts appliqués (Agrégation of applied arts)
- option histoire des arts (Agrégation of arts' history)
- Agrégation de musique (Agrégation of music)
- Enseignement d'éducation physique
- Agrégation d'éducation physique et sportive (Agrégation of physical education and sports)
In some disciplines of higher education such as law, legal history, political science, economics, management, there exists an agrégation for the professorship positions, called agrégation de l'enseignement supérieur. In this competitive exam, the candidate also has to give several lessons in front of a committee. Usually there are three lessons, spread over several months, except in economics, where there are only two lessons. The first and the last lessons have to be prepared alone, during eight hours, in a library of basic titles selected by the committee. For the remaining lesson, when it exists, the candidate has a full 24 hours to prepare for the examination, and may use several libraries as well as a team of "helpers" (usually doctoral candidates or fellow candidates, but never full professors).
Some anticonformist sociologists like Pierre Bourdieu have argued that this exam measures a candidate's social connections as much their ability to present a lesson, especially considering the composition of the examining committee.
List of agrégations for higher education
- Agrégation de droit (Agrégation of law)
- Agrégation de droit privé (Agrégation of private law)
- Agrégation de droit public (Agrégation of public law)
- Agrégation d'histoire du droit (Agrégation of legal history)
- Agrégation de science politique (Agrégation of political science)
- Agrégation d'économie (Agrégation of economics ; not to be confused with the agrégations for secondary education that are the agrégation de sciences économiques et sociales and the agrégation d'économie et de gestion)
- Agrégation de gestion (Agrégation of management ; not to be confused with the agrégation for secondary education that is the agrégation d'économie et de gestion)
Well known agrégés (and discipline)
- philosophers Alain Badiou (philosophie), Henri Bergson (philosophie), Jean-Paul Sartre (philosophie), Simone de Beauvoir (philosophie), Raymond Aron (philosophie), Michel Foucault (philosophie) Jacques Derrida (philosophie), André Glucksmann (philosophie), Alain Finkielkraut (lettres modernes), Luc Ferry (philosophy), Louis Althusser (philosophie), Simone Weil (philosophie), André Comte-Sponville (philosophie);
- anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss (philosophie), etc.;
- politicians Jean Jaurès (philosophie), Georges Pompidou (lettres), Alain Juppé (lettres classiques), Jacques Legendre (histoire-géographie), Laurent Fabius (lettres modernes), Marisol Touraine (sciences économiques et sociales), Bruno Le Maire (lettres modernes), Aurélie Filippetti (lettres classiques), Laurent Wauquiez (histoire), François Bayrou (lettres classiques), Xavier Darcos (lettres classiques), etc.;
- writers citation needed], translator of Virgil, Julien Gracq (histoire-géographie) de son vrai nom Louis Poirier, Jules Romains de son vrai nom Louis Farigoule (philosophie), Daniel-Rops (histoire-géographie) de son vrai nom Henri Petiot, Henri Queffélec (lettres), Jean-Louis Curtis (English), Patrick Grainville (lettres modernes), Dominique Fernandez (italien), Danielle Sallenave (lettres), etc.; [
- hellenist Jacqueline de Romilly (lettres), etc., linguist George Dumézil (lettres classiques);
- mathematician Cédric Villani, recipient of Fields Medal;
- physicists Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, recipient of Nobel Prize in Physics, and Philippe Nozières;
- economist Bernard Belletante.
- André Chervel. "Les agrégés de l'enseignement secondaire. Répertoire 1809–1950" [List of successful agrégés by subject matter and year from 1809 to 1950]. Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes. Retrieved 23 June 2014.