Final examination

The final examination (which was previously called the final apprenticeship examination) forms part of the qualification procedure. It takes place towards the end of the VET programme. It is a means of ascertaining whether a learner has acquired the competences set forth in the training plan. The employer registers the learner for the examination and, if necessary, sets aside the premises, tools and equipment needed to complete the examination work. This is done free of charge.

The process modules that are completed before the end of the apprenticeship may be graded if the VET ordinance provides for a partial examination. The grades obtained are included in the grades of the final examination. If the grades are insufficient, the partial examinations may be repeated twice.

Adults who have acquired competences by some other means may also take the final examination as a means of validating their experience and work; they must prove that they have at least five years of work experience and, if the provisions of the VET ordinance require this, that they have worked for a certain period of time in the occupation in question. Students from recognised private training institutions may also undergo the qualification procedure. Candidates may be exempted from certain portions of the final examination if they have already successfully completed another dual-track or school-based VET programme.

The qualification procedure with a final examination is deemed to be successful when the conditions laid down in the VET ordinance have been met.

If candidates do not pass the final examination, they have the right to consult the documents that concern them. In certain cantons, it is possible for candidates to also consult the documents if they have passed. The VET office can organise a meeting between the VET trainer, the learner and their legal representative, as well as a representative from the Board of Examiners. Such a meeting allows for the reasons for failure to be ascertained and thus create the bases for a successful repetition of the examination.

Unsuccessful competence areas may be repeated no more than two times. If the candidate repeats the examination without having extended their apprenticeship contract, they are no longer entitled to receive their salary during the examinations.

If the learner is prevented from taking the examination due to health concerns, he/she must send a medical certificate to the competent authority. If the learner is prevented from taking the examination due to other reasons (e. g. a death in the family), the competent authority must be informed thereof as quickly as possible. The authority shall endeavour to organise a possible retaking of the examination during the same year.

Competence areas
Three competence areas are generally stipulated in the VET ordinance. They are respectively practical work, technical knowledge and language, communication and society (LCS). A fourth area may be added to the other three concerning professional draughtsmanship.

Practical work
Practical work can be broken down into two parts: an individual practical project (IPP) and a pre-assigned examination project (PEP).

  • Individual practical project (IPP) 
    The learner (the candidate) completes an individual practical project at his / her workplace in accordance with the task indicated by the company. The candidate’s immediate supervisor prepares the wording of the work to be examined (with the learner’s assistance) and submits it to be assessed by the board of examiners. The candidate devotes a certain number of hours to IPP and keeps a work logbook. The supervisor reviews completion and the result of the work to be examined and suggests an assessment. During an occupational interview, the candidate presents his / her IPP to the board of examiners. The latter and the supervisor reach an agreement on the final grade to be awarded for the work done.
  • Pre-assigned examination project (PEP)
    In certain occupations, practical work is not individual but pre-assigned. Two examiners observe the candidate's work for the duration of the examination. All candidates complete the same work in accordance with the provisions laid down in the VET ordinance (positions and duration of the test).

Technical knowledge
The examination on technical knowledge corresponds to the classroom instruction and theoretical portion of the final examination. The learner takes a written examination or a combination of written and oral examinations.

Language, communication and society (LCS)
This competence area is comprised of the performance grade in language, communication and society (LCS), the special project and the final examination. The final examination is not included in the case of a two-year VET programme.

  • Special project
    For the special project, learners deal with a subject of their choice. They may carry out the work alone or in groups. This work generally lasts for between 8 and 12 half days of three lessons each. To complete the special project of their choice, apprentices lay down objectives, plan work, search and gather documentation. The special project allows for various competences to be stimulated and assessed (e.?g. work techniques and organisation, research and documentation, rational argument and reflection). In most cases, learners record the results of their work in writing. Finally, they present and defend their special project during an interview with two examiners.

Specific qualification procedure for VET programs in commerce
The final examination for the VET programme in commerce includes a portion devoted to practice and a portion devoted to theory. The practical portion is comprised of written and oral examinations. The performance grade is obtained from working and learning situations (WLS), process modules (PMs) and competence records of branch courses. It represents half of the final grade for the practical portion. The Depth and expansion of knowledge modules (D&E) are part of the theory portion.

  • Working and learning situations (WLS)
    The VET trainer assesses the apprentice’s performance and behaviour in the company on the basis of pre-established criteria. WLS are similar to interviews to discuss the training report.
  • Process modules (PMs)
    The current labour market requires commercial employees to be capable of interdisciplinary thinking and a strong process-oriented manner of working. It is possible to replace two PMs with two competence records from branch courses.
  • Depth and expansion of knowledge modules (D&E)
    Depth and expansion of knowledge modules are scheduled for the 2nd and/or 3rd year of the VET programme. Emphasis is placed on the areas of ICA (information, communication and administration) and B&S (business and society).

Passing grades
Passing grades are the grades that candidates must obtain in order to pass the final examination. Each VET ordinance stipulates the passing grades, the calculation and weighting of the grades. The qualification procedure is deemed to be successful if the overall grade is equal to or higher than 4.0. The grade for practical work is more often than not eliminatory. In the case where formal and informal learning is validated, the grades are replaced by the words “successful” or “unsuccessful”.

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