What is the Araratian Baccalaureate

The Araratian Baccalaureate (AB) is an academically rigorous high school qualification developed by the Ayb Foundation as part of the National Program for Educational Excellence (NPEE), an Armenian public education program established by the Armenian Ministry of Education and Science and implemented in collaboration with leading international partners in the field of education. On December 29, 2015, (Ministerial Decree No. 1073-Ա/Ք) the Armenian Ministry of Education confirmed the Araratian Baccalaureate as an alternative high school education program for Armenia's public school system.  

In September 2016 the AB was benchmarked by UK's National Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) to be comparable to UK A Level and US AP qualifications

The AB Diploma is intended as a baccalaureate style award (3-year high school program), including a number of subjects offered at two levels; Extended and Standard together with Project-based Learning, which extends the skills and subject knowledge acquired through the main subject areas included in the AB curriculum. All subjects, apart from English and Russian languages, are taught and assessed in Armenian.

Who takes the Araratian Baccalaureate

The Araratian Baccalaureate is an academically rigorous program designed for a selected high-performing national cohort and offered during the last 3 years of the 12-year Armenian comprehensive public education system. Compared to the standard State program, AB students study extended hours, during the week and on Saturdays.   

“Pitched at upper secondary level, the AB, GCE A Level and APs all assume a degree of prior knowledge and skills on entry. However, whilst the AB is intended for the highest achieving students in Armenia, selected through an admissions exam, A Levels and APs are taken by students with a comparably broader range of abilities and backgrounds.” UK NARIC Benchmarking Report, August 2016

8 subject groups/more than 30 subjects offered

The Araratian Baccalaureate Curriculum

(Credits noted in parentheses. The AB schedule is designed for a 5-day week for 39 weeks. One credit = 1 x 45 mins per week for a 39-week year.)

All AB 10th graders take:

  • Extended Armenian Studies
  • Extended Mathematics
  • English Language
  • Russian Language
  • Conceptual Science
  • Physical Education
  • Thinking Skills

All AB 11th graders take:

  • Extended Armenian Studies
  • Extended Mathematics
  • English Language
  • Physical Education
  • Project-based learning (PBL 1)*

All AB 12th graders take:

  • Extended Armenian Studies
  • Extended Mathematics
  • English Language
  • Physical Education
  • Project-based learning (PBL 2)*
Plus electives in these categories
  • Social Sciences
  • Arts
  • Extended Subject A
  • Extended/Standard Subject B
  • Standard Subject
  • Extended Subject A
  • Extended/Standard Subject B
  • [Optional Standard Subject]
total:  36 hours
total:  36-39 hours**
total:  33-36 hours**
*Saturdays and extended hours are used for project-based learning activities.  
**depending on whether students choose one additional extended subject or two, or additional standard subjects.
Those marked in italic afford students the opportunity to pursue their interests and explore their abilities by selecting courses from among a number of offerings in consultation with their parents and the school counselor.

What are Extended Subjects

Extended Subjects aim to give students a rigorous and in-depth understanding of the subject and related skills and require a minimum of 360 guided learning hours.  

All students must take Extended Armenian Studies and English Language (the English language requirement at graduation is at least CEFR level B2) and one additional Extended Subject of their choice, but not more than two.  Students may choose from Extended Mathematics, Extended Biology, Extended Chemistry, Extended Physics, and starting in 2019, Extended History.  Students taking two additional Extended Subjects will be eligible for graduation with honors.  

Extended Armenian Studies is an integrated curriculum comprising Armenian language, literature, history and culture, emphasizing oral and written communication, critical thinking skills, weighing of evidence, cultural appreciation, and a sense of historical responsibility. 

What are Standard Subjects

In addition to Extended Subjects, starting in 11th grade, students must take one or more Standard Subjects.  Standard Subjects require a minimum of 180 guided learning hours.  They are designed to allow students to explore their interests and assure a well-rounded education.  

In 10th grade, standard level courses in Arts, Social Sciences and Russian language are required for all students.  Russian language is assessed by State examination to assure that a minimum CEFR A2 level is achieved.   Physical Education is mandatory across all 3 years.  

The following is a sampling of Standard Subjects. Offerings may vary from school to school.

  • History
  • Geography
  • Business Studies
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Computer Science
  • Robotics
  • French
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Arts

How are Araratian Baccalaureate Students Assessed

Formative and summative assessment is employed throughout the AB Diploma programme. Formative assessment comprises homework, coursework and in-class tests. Each student comprises a portfolio together with their teacher and gets feedback based on the portfolio progress. No grades are issued to students during the learning process besides summative tests taken twice a year (one interim and one final for the course). 

AB summative assessment, including final graduation exams, is carried out by an independent examination center, the Araratian Baccalaureate Examination Center (ABEC), established by the National Program for Educational Excellence with close supervision by Cambridge International Examinations.  

The ABEC is working in collaboration with Cambridge International Examinations on assessment of Extended Subjects. 

Students who have successfully passed the Extended examinations in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics will receive a certificate with the following wording on the reverse of the certificate: 

Candidates awarded A*, A, B, C, D or E in Extended Subjects have reached standards equivalent to the same grades in Cambridge International Advanced (A) Level.  Candidates awarded a, b, c, d or e in Standard Subjects have reached standards at least equivalent to the same grades in Cambridge International Advanced Subsidiary (AS) Level. (Independently certified by UK NARIC).

Armenian Studies is assessed internally and validated through ABEC Exam. English is assessed internally and validated through State or international exams.  Students applying internationally are expected to take IELTS as evidence of English language proficiency.   Starting in 2019, the AB plans to introduce Extended History comparable to Cambridge International A levels.

How is Araratian Baccalaureate reported

AB Diplomas are awarded at three levels: Honors, Merit, and Standard, as summarized below.

From UK NARIC benchmarking report 2016
Qualification: Araratian Baccalaureate 
Awarding Institution: Araratian Baccalaureate Examination Center (ABEC) 

  • Is considered comparable to the overall GCE A Level Standard  Subjects passed at Extended Level, jointly certified by ABEC/Cambridge, can be considered comparable to GCE A Level on a subject-for-subject basis. Jointly-certified subjects at Standard Level can be considered comparable to the GCE AS Level on a subject-for-subject basis.
  • Is considered comparable to the overall US Advanced Placement Standard

Students accepted to top local & international universities (Berkley, Chicago, KU Leuven, Stanford, Rotterdam)

Araratian Baccalaureate Student Characteristics

AB student, throughout learning within the AB system, comes to develop the following characteristics:

a. Knowledgeable and creative

To harmonize knowing and doing. This ancient wisdom is even more important in the 21st century when devising an education in a modern climate with an unprecedented volume of knowledge and creative innovation.

b. Prudent and Caring

The kindness of our thoughts should also be reflected in our actions: the AB student must be caring.

c. Initiative‐taking and Balanced

Being brave, courageous, purposeful, and ready to run risks and at the same time to be balanced in any initiative, maintaining inner peace and harmony.

d. Vigilant and open

It is the core task of modern education to teach individuals to collect themselves, to be attentive and concentrated. And at the same time in order that this concentration does not lead a person to the inner manacles of fixations, the person needs to be open.