Education: Oral Surgery

France's grueling baccalaureate exam, the pre-university hurdle founded by Napoleon 151 years ago, has been a nightmare for secondary-school students ever since. The "bachot"' is a double headache: up to three days of stiff written exams, one appalling day of ten successive 10-minute oral exams by ten gimlet-eyed professors. Those who fail in June (65%) get another chance in September; those who fail then (80%) stay at school another year. Notable first-round failures: Anatole France, Alphonse Daudet, Andre Gide, Franchise Sagan. Though some brave bachot bumblers repeat the year as many as six times, others (like Gide) bid adieu to formal...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!