The German school system starts with primary school (Grundschule), which all children attend from 1st through 4th grade. The basics of reading, writing and arithmetic are taught there.
Starting in 5th grade, the system separates into different types of schools:
• vocational secondary school (Realschule plus)
• integrated comprehensive school (integrierte Gesamtschule)
• academic secondary school (Gymnasium)
• special instructional assistance.
Realschule plus runs through 10th grade and prepares students for an occupation. Graduates can continue in vocational training and transfer to a vocational school. However, students can also attend Realschule plus until 12th grade and earn a technical certificate. This certificate gives access to study at a technical university (Fachhochschule). However, not all vocational secondary schools offer the upper two classes.
A general secondary school certificate (Hochschulreife) can be earned at the integrated comprehensive and academic secondary schools. This certificate is required to study at university.