Studying on a year abroad: how to validate your studies

Studying on a year abroad: how to validate your studies. One thing that can be a problem for some people thinking about studying a full course abroad is how to validate your studies once you return to Spain. Even though it is indeed something that needs to be looked at thoroughly to not get any unwanted surprises, knowing how the process works is not as difficult as it seems. So you can be sure that everything is done correctly, we offer to take care of all the necessary procedures for you with the Ministry of Education so you don’t have to worry. Nevertheless, we want to provide you with some tips on how things work in our top three destinations when it comes to the requirements to be able to validate your course in Spain, thus completing it.


Some similarities

In England, Ireland and Scotland, validation for studies is not necessary for courses that correspond to primary school level, and in years 1, 2 and 3 of secondary school in Spain.

When the student returns to Spain after having completed one of these courses in one of our three destinations, all they have to do is simply submit their grades to their respective secondary school. 

It is only from the 4th year of secondary school that differences from one country to another appear. 



The third year in Spanish secondary school, or 3rd Year in Ireland does not require validation. While it is true that Irish students are required to pass the exam called Junior Certificate, Spanish students can do so if they wish, or they can refrain. In both circumstances the course will be validated equally.

The great difference, and in turn it’s greatest strength of Ireland comes in the 4th year of secondary school. This course makes the ‘Emerald Isle’ one of the most sought after destinations for students who are planning on taking it abroad. Why? Let me explain.

Irish students are not required to do their 4th year. They can choose between two options, and Spanish or other nationality students can benefit from this:


-Option A: Transition Year (TY): this is the one that directly corresponds to the 4th year of Spanish secondary school. It is a course that is more focused on personal development. When the students still don’t know which subjects to opt for during their A-Levels there, they take this course, which is more practical, in order to have a clearer idea of what they want to do in the future. It is ideal for students from other countries, since it is less academic, has more activities and more diverse subjects, and they do internships.


-Option B: 5th Year: they can directly go from the 3rd year to the 5th year, or what would be equivalent to the 1st year of A-Levels in Spain. It is obviously a more academic course. Now, if a Spanish student who is going to study 4th of secondary school in Ireland, chose to do this 5th Year instead of the Transition Year, when returning to Spain the student would be validated as a 4th year in Spanish secondary school and not as a 1st year in Sixth Form. Therefore they would have to enrol in the 1st year of Sixth form in Spain.


5th year: this is equivalent to the first year of Sixth Form. It is a course with a bigger workload, but don’t be worried. If the student is already hard-working, they will get used to it anyway, regardless of the language. In order for this course to be validated upon returning to Spain, the student will have had to pass a minimum of 5 subjects (two compulsory and three optional).

6th Year: in order for a Spanish student to take the 2nd year of Sixth Form in Ireland, they will have had to take the 5th Year there beforehand. At the end of this course, they must take what’s called the Leaving Certificate, with the aim of achieving validation in the admissions system to a university in Spain.



Just like in Ireland, courses which correspond to Primary school and 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of secondary school in Spain do not need to be validated when returning to Spain. 

-4th year of Spanish secondary school: to get their course validated, the student will have had to pass the entire course as well as the subjects of the state exam, or the so-called Scottish National Standards.

-1st year of Sixth Form (S5): the student must pass all the exams plus the so-called Higher Exams.

-Final year of Sixth Form (S6): to be able to study this course in Scotland, the student must have completed the first year of Sixth Form there. Then they will have to pass all of the subjects of the course plus the Higher and/or Advanced Higher Exams.



Just like in Ireland and Scotland, courses which correspond to Primary school and 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of secondary school in Spain do not need to be validated when returning to Spain.

The nuance that differentiates it with respect to the 3rd year of Spanish secondary school is that, although validation is not necessary upon returning to Spain, it must be taken into account that it is a year that is already part of the GCSE exams These exams are set at the end of the equivalent to 4th year of Spanish secondary school and they include both years.


-4th year of Spanish secondary school (Year 11 GCSE): to get their course validated, students have to pass the entire school year as well as at least four subjects in the GCSE exams. 


-1st Year of Spanish Sixth Form (Year 12 AS-Level): the students must pass all the subjects of the course. There are two kinds of A-Level qualification:

International Baccalaureate: this is a very interesting option if the student has not yet decided what they want to do in the future, and it is very similar to the program of the A-Level course in Spain.

A-Level: like the previous one, it is a course that also lasts two years, but a minimum of three or more specific subjects are chosen to study. It is more aimed at students who do know what they want to do in the future.

At the end of both courses, students sit exams that they must pass.


-2nd year of Spanish Sixth Form (Year 13 A-Level): the student must have previously completed the course corresponding to the 1st year of Sixth Form also in England. Likewise, the student will continue with the A-Level course that they have selected in the previous course, and will have to pass the final exams.

As you have seen, it’s not an impossible process, you just need to be well informed about it. Furthermore, if you decide to have a school year abroad with us, you won’t have to worry about a thing. We would take charge of finding all the options that best suit your needs. 

Here we have left you with a few tips on the process, but don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need more information about one of our destinations or a specific course. We will be very happy to help. 

You can also find more information here

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