School and Grade System in Mexico. For all Interpreters who struggle with this issue.
July 23, 2012 § 19 Comments
During my years as an interpreter I have been asked many things about Mexican Spanish, culture, way of living, etcetera; but by far, the most popular questions have consistently been about the Mexican educational system and its equivalency with the American system. I have seen very capable colleagues from countries other than Mexico struggle with the interpretation of a simple phrase like: “Solo terminé la secundaria,” so today, I decided to put in writing, once and for all, the Mexican educational system.
The educational system in Mexico starts at the age of two, however, education is not compulsory before the child turns 6. Also, the educational system ends with the 12th. Grade, but compulsory education ends after the 9th. Grade.
These are the equivalencies between Mexico and the United States:
Preschool = Kinder o Jardín de Niños, sometimes: Educación Preescolar (2 to 4 years of age)
Kindergarten (last year before elementary school) = Pre-primaria.
Elementary School = Primaria (1st. to 6th. Grade. Children from 6 to 12 years old) Compulsory.
Middle School or Junior High = Secundaria (7th. to 9th. Grade. Children from 12 to 15) Compulsory.
High School = Preparatoria (10th. To 12th. Grade. Children from 15 to 18).
Community College = Carrera Corta (2 years degree)
College = Universidad (4 to 6 years depending on the degree)
Master’s = Maestría
Doctorate – Doctorado
Diplomas or Degrees:
Elementary School Certificate = Certificado de Primaria (Compulsory)
Junior High or Middle School Diploma = Certificado de Secundaria (Compulsory)
High School Diploma = Certificado de Preparatoria (Also called “Prepa”)
A student who finished High School completed the Bachillerato and is called Bachiller.
A student who has an Associate’s Degree completed a Carrera Corta and he gets a Diploma.
A student who gets a Bachelors Degree completed the Universidad and has a Licenciatura
A student who gets a Master’s Degree finished a Maestría and is a Maestro.
A student who gets a Ph.D. finished a Doctorado and is a Doctor, or a Doctor en Filosofía.
A Colegio is not a college. It is a private school even if it is an elementary school. (a public school is a escuela)
A College where they do not offer Master’s and Ph.D. programs is called a Escuela. Escuela de Arquitectura (School of Architecture)
A College where they offer post-graduate education is called a Facultad. Facultad de Medicina (Medical School)
In Mexico, schools grade their students with the following scale (Some schools use different systems but this is the prevailing scale):
MB or Muy Bien = A
B or Bien = B
S or Suficiente = C, D
NA o No Apto = F
A student’s grade average is calculated on a scale from 1-10
A Promedio de 10 would be the equivalent to a 4.0 GPA
On the other hand, to refer to a 10 as a 4.0 in Spanish would be disastrous. Be careful!
I hope this will help the next time a Mexican client says: “Solo terminé la secundaria,” and you interpret it as: “I just finished middle school.”