5.3 Learning outcomes in upper secondary education

Large discrepancy between coursework and exam grades in some subjects

Just as in primary and lower secondary school, coursework and exam grades in upper secondary have remained relatively stable over time. The exception is maths, where the results fluctuate more.

The largest discrepancy between coursework grades and exam grades can be found in applied mathematics at Vg1 level. The difference between the coursework grade and exam grade averages 0.9 points. When comparing the same pupils’ exam and coursework grades, 77 per cent received a lower grade in the applied mathematics exam at Vg1 level than they did for their coursework. In theoretical mathematics [2 P-Y] 46 per cent of pupils received a lower grade in the exam (see Figure 5.7) .

Girls obtain higher coursework grades than boys in almost all core subjects, just as in primary and lower secondary school. The discrepancy between girls and boys is greatest in Norwegian and social science. Girls score an average of 0.4–0.5 higher than boys in these subjects.

Figure 5.7 Written exam grades and coursework grades in selected core subjects in upper secondary by gender. 2014–15. Average.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training (Statistikkportalen)

Absence limit

The Norwegian government has introduced an absence limit of 15 per cent in upper secondary with effect from the 2016-17 school year. The limit applies to absence in individual subjects, not to a pupil’s overall absence. Pupils who are absent from a subject more than 10 per cent of the time will not be assessed in the subject. However, the pupil may be assessed if he or she can prove that the absence limit was exceeded due to health and welfare reasons, work as an elected representative, political work, representation at events on a national or international level, religious holidays etc.

Correlation between low attendance rates and grades

Pupils with low attendance obtain lower grades on average than pupils with high attendance. However, a considerable proportion of pupils with low attendance also receive good grades.

In Figure 5.8 we have compared total absence rates for all pupils taking applied mathematics at Vg1 level with the coursework grades they received in the subject.

Out of the 18,000 or so pupils studying applied mathematics on a Vg1 general study programme, 17 per cent (3,100 pupils) had an overall absence rate of more than 10 per cent. 82 per cent of these pupils went on to obtain a grade 2 or higher, i.e. a pass. 20 per cent obtained a grade 4 or higher for coursework.

There is similar correlation between absenteeism and grades in both applied mathematics on vocational study programmes and Norwegian (primary language form) on general study programmes. It is worth noting that fail rates among those with low attendance are far lower in Norwegian (primary language form) than in applied mathematics. 24 per cent of pupils with overall absence rates higher than 20 per cent obtained a coursework grade 4 or higher in Norwegian (primary language form).

Figure 5.8 Pupils by absence rate and coursework grade in applied mathematics for general study programmes at Level Vg1. 2014–15. Per cent.


Source: Directorate for Education and Training