A secondary education final exam consists of a school exam component and a national written exam component. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science decides which subjects are examined in a particular school year. Schools are allowed to decide on the content and the date the school exam is held. During the national written exam, all pupils attending the same type of education (e.g. vmbo, havo, vwo) get the same questions for their compulsory and optional subjects. The Board of Examinations (CvE) decides on the content and the date the national written exam is held.
Since school year 2011/’12, pupils can only pass the national written exam, if the results for all subjects are satisfactory. An additional requirement applies for havo and vwo pupils taking the final exam in school year 2012/’13. They are not allowed to have more than one 5 (on a scale from 1 to 10) for one of the key subjects Dutch, English and mathematics. From school year 2011/’12, the school exam for vmbo pupils in the basic vocational track and the national written exam are equally important. Prior to school year 2011/’12, the school exam result was twice as important as the national written exam result.