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Education is very important these days. If you want to be succeful you need a good education. Educational system in Slovakia has been changed in last few years. There is a new school-leaving exam at secondary schools. Many students can study abroad and improve their language skills. School attendance in Slovakia is compulsory from the age of 6 to 16. There are state schools, private schools and church schools. Stages of education: pre-school education, primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education and higher education. Pre-school education is voluntary, it prepares children for school. It includes créches, kindergartens and special kindergartens for disabled children. Primary education is divided into two stages: the first stage 1-4 and the second stage 5-9. Primary education gives children general education e. g. Languages, History, Geography, Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Arts, Religion or Ethics and P.E. (students do exercises, play tennis, football...). The school year starts on September 1st and finishes on June 30th. Students get school reports at the end of January and June and they are assessed by marks from 1 to 5. After primary school you have to choose secondary school. Students have to pass an entrance exams. There are different types of secondary schools: gymnasium (secondary grammar school), vocational and technical schools (nursing, agricultural, business and hotel academies...). Vocational and technical schools prepare students for their future professions. Final exams are in both theoretical and practical subjects. Students pass final exams and graduate. A gymnasium prepares students for higher education. The study usually takes four years and it is finished with a school-leaving examination. In the past maturita was only an oral exam. School-leaving exam is in 5 subjects: 3 are compulsory and 2 are elective. The exam has 2 parts - the written and the oral. After passing students get school-leaving certifikate. Post-secondary education is a non-university education. It lasts 3 years and is finished by final exams. Higher education lasts from 4 to 6 years at universities. Students have to pass an entrance examination. They can study law, medicine, economics,journalism... Students can study 3 years for bachelors degrees and 5 years for masters degrees. To get university diploma a student must defend a thesis and then pass the state examination. School buildings look very much alike. Many have playgrounds, gyms and sports facilities. On the ground floor there are usually the cloakrooms, the school canteen, the staff room and the administrative offices. In the average school building, there are mostly large classrooms, several small classrooms ans special classrooms called laboratories. Schools may also have a large assembly hall where meetings and celebrations are held. Hallways and staircases are decorated with flowers and pictures of famous people. There are also notice-boards with important informations for students. A lesson usually lasts 45 minutes and breaks are 10 or 15 minutes long. Apart from lessons many schools offers various after-school activities like sports, drama... During the school year educational authorities organise many competitions. Anybody can take part in the school round but only the best move up to the higher rounds.