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Introduction of the University-Entrance Examination [Abitur] in Prussia: Edict signed by King Frederick William III, State Chancellor Hardenberg, and Minister Friedrich von Schuckmann (October 12, 1812)

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§ 10. The written exam papers consist of:

1. a German essay, which is primarily intended to document the development of the examinee’s reason and imagination, as well as, in terms of its compositions, his knowledge of the German language and skill in using it. Therefore, the topic is to be selected from such an area that the examinees can prefer, depending on inclination, this form or the other, though the subject must never be exclusively factual.

2. a Latin essay,

3. a French essay.

In order not to divide up the composer’s effort too much between form and matter, the suitable topics will be historical subjects, for the Latin essay from ancient history, for the French essay from modern history. However, in this respect, too, merely dry stringing together of facts must not, under any circumstance, amount to the whole; instead, the relationship of several important events to each other, and the portrayal and assessment of entire circumstances of nations will be the basis on which to test the youths’ powers of deduction.

4. a mathematical paper, in which the goal is similarly to explore particularly the examinee’s powers of judgment in applying the acquired material, and from which shall emerge whether he is capable himself to discover questions and take views, and how far his powers of deduction might extend;

5. two essays relating to Greek:

a) one German translation of a play by one author not read in school and appropriate to the proficiency, accompanied by the necessary linguistic and factual explanations;

b) a short translation from German into Greek, in the context of which etymological and syntactical, and in general the grammatical correctness are considered in every respect.

Composition of these essays takes place without any additional assistance other than that of a Greek dictionary in the case of the Greek segment, and under conscientious and uninterrupted supervision by a teacher from the school institution. [ . . . ]

§ 15. Those pupils who are found prepared for university studies in the unconditionally or conditionally competent way will be given notification that they can leave the school institution and advance to university. Those, however, who received the assessment of incompetence, will receive, upon revelation of this, the advice to continue attending school for a while yet, if there is hope that by doing so they can make up the missing elements. In case though that they do not accept advice against enrolling in university, they, too, shall be issued the results of the examination in the form of a diploma. [ . . . ]

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