Primary and secondary education in Pakistan

Primary education lasts 8 years in Pakistan. Pupils aged 5 to 13 complete the following 2 phases:

  • lower primary education (primary school, grade 1-5);
  • upper primary education (middle school, grade 6-8).

There are 2 types of secondary education:

  • general secondary education ( : 4 years); and
  • vocational secondary education (duration: 2 years).

In secondary education, students take their exams via a board. The board issues the official diploma and transcript, not the secondary school.

Secondary School Certificate/Matriculation Certificate

This is the diploma of lower general secondary education. This diploma can also be called Matriculation Certificate.

  • Duration: 2 years (grade 9 and grade 10).
  • Content: usually 8 exam subjects. The subjects English, Urdu, Islamic studies (Islamiyat) and Pakistan studies (history, geography, politics and culture of Pakistan) are compulsory. Students also take 4 electives. Students usually choose a subject cluster (group) at the beginning of the 1st year (grade 9), which then includes the electives. Common subject clusters are:
    • humanities (social sciences, such as civics and economics);
    • science (exact sciences, such as biology and chemistry);
    • technical (technical subjects, such as woodworking and electrical engineering).
  • Function of the diploma: access to upper secondary education (Higher Secondary School Certificate/Intermediate School Certificate) and secondary vocational education.
  • Diploma: Secondary School Certificate or Matriculation Certificate from a board.

We compare a Secondary School Certificate to a diploma.

We compare a Matriculation Certificate to a VMBO-T diploma.

Higher Secondary School Certificate/Intermediate School Certificate

The Higher Secondary School Certificate is the diploma of upper general secondary education. This diploma can also be called Intermediate School Certificate. In Pakistan, upper secondary education is also known as higher secondary education or intermediate education.

  • Duration: 2 years (grade 11 and grade 12).
  • Content: usually 7 exam subjects. The subjects English, Urdu, Islamic studies or civics (for non-Muslims) and Pakistan studies (history, geography, politics and culture of Pakistan) are compulsory. Students also take 3 electives. The electives fall under the group the student chooses. Usually, students choose a group that matches the group they chose in lower secondary education. Common groups are:
    • commerce (e.g. accounting, economics, statistics);
    • general (exact sciences, such as mathematics, physics, informatics);
    • home economics (e.g. home nursing, cooking, childcare);
    • humanities (social sciences such as psychology, geography, history);
    • medical technology (microbiology, anatomy, pathology);
    • pre-engineering (mathematics, physics, chemistry);
    • pre-medical (biology, chemistry, physics).
      The electives can be very different in terms of content and aim. Some subjects include mainly theoretical instruction, other subjects include mainly practical training and little or no theoretical instruction.
  • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
  • Diploma: Higher Secondary School Certificate or Intermediate School Certificate from a board.

We compare a Higher Secondary School Certificate (obtained before 2024) with grade D or E as final result to at least a VMBO-T diploma.

We compare a Intermediate School Certificate (obtained before 2024) with grade D or E as final result to at least a VMBO-T diploma.

Please note: ‘at least a VMBO-T diploma’ means that the qualification has a higher level than a VMBO-T diploma, but a lower level than a HAVO diploma. The level of the qualification lies between a VMBO-T diploma and a HAVO diploma.

We compare a Higher Secondary School Certificate (obtained before 2024) with grade A1, A, B or C as final result to a diploma.

We compare an Intermediate School Certificate (obtained before 2024) with grade A1, A, B or C as final result to a HAVO diploma.

Please note that the boards are currently gradually transitioning to a new grading system. We are not yet sure what this means for our credential evaluations. So do you have a Higher Secondary School Certificate or Intermediate School Certificate which is obtained from 2024 onwards? Please contact us for a credential evaluation.

Technical School Certificate

This is the diploma of vocational secondary education. Students take exams administered by a Board of Technical Education (BTE) to which their school is affiliated.

  • Duration: 2 years.
  • Content: English, a Pakistani language, Islamic studies (Islamiyat), physics, mathematics, technical drawing and theory (trade – theory) and practical training (trade – practical) for a particular profession, such as woodworker or auto mechanic.
  • Function of the diploma: access to secondary vocational education.
  • Diploma: Technical School Certificate from a BTE.

We compare a Technical School Certificate to a VMBO-T diploma.