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From Academic Kids

In France, the agrégation is a civil service competitive examination for some positions in the public education system. The laureates are known as agrégés. A similar system exists in other countries.

There are actually two different agrégations:

Secondary education

The main one and the better known is for secondary education, leading to the position of professeur agrégé. Its difficulty and selectivity varies greatly between disciplines: there are about 300 such positions open each year in mathematics, but a few dozen in philosophy, and perhaps one in some rarely taught foreign languages such as Japanese. In any case, it is considered a selective to very selective exam to succeed in.

The exam generally consists in a written part (admissibility) where most candidates are eliminated, followed by an oral part (admission) where the candidate must demonstrate his ability to prepare and give lessons on about any topic within the scope of his discipline.

In most disciplines, the lessons expected extend well above the secondary education level; the candidate may, in effect, have to present a lesson appropriate for the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th years of specialized studies at a university. One reason for that is that the agrégés should be able to teach in special postgraduate sections of highschools known as preparatory classes to the grandes écoles, where the level is above the normal level of 1st or 2nd year college education – though the vast majority of agrégés teach in ordinary secondary education.

The agrégation is normally open only to holders of a 4-year college education (formerly, maîtrise) or above. Its preparation often takes a full additional year at the university, for the so-called external agrégation. There also exists an internal agrégation for people holding lesser positions within the education system, though it lacks the prestige of the external one.

The agrégation is also used as a kind of national ranking system for students, giving a fair comparison between students of different universities. This is especially true in the humanities, where the agrégation is highly selective and serves as a test on the culture of the candidate.

The student of the écoles normales supérieures often prepare the agrégation.

In addition to those teaching in the preparatory classes to the grandes écoles, some agrégés teach in normal universities, but do not, nominally, do scientific research as normal university academics do ; these positions are known as PRAG.

Higher education

In some disciplines of higher education such as law and economics, there exists an agrégation for the professorship positions. In this competitive exam, the candidate also has to give a lesson in front of a committee. However, the candidate has a full day to prepare for the examination, may use several libraries as well as a team of "helpers".

Some sociologists like Pierre Bourdieu have argued that this exam measures as much the candidate's ability to present a lesson as the candidate's social connections — consider, for example, that a candidate for a Law professorship may be helped by first-class attorneys if he happens to know them.

External links

List of successful agrégés by subject matter and year from 1900 to 1950 (French) (http://www.inrp.fr/she/chervel_laureats2.htm)fr:Agrégation ja:アグレガシオン

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