On 1 September 2017, new regulations concerning the vocational examination came into force. The regulations introduced a number of changes, including a new vocational education and training (VET) core curriculum on the basis of which the examination is to be conducted.
WHO CAN TAKE THE VOCATIONAL EXAMINATION ACCORDING TO THE 2017 CORE CURRICULUM?
The vocational examination based on the 2017 VET core curriculum is intended for students of stage I and stage II sectoral vocational schools, technical upper-secondary schools and post-secondary schools who began their education in these schools on or after 1 September 2017.
The vocational examination will be conducted for:
- students and graduates of stage I sectoral vocational schools, 4-year technical upper-secondary schools and post-secondary schools who begin their education in grade 1 of these schools starting from academic year 2017/2018, and in subsequent grades/semesters in the following years;
- students and graduates of 5-year technical upper-secondary schools who begin their education in grade 1 of these schools starting from academic year 2019/2020, and in subsequent grades in the following years;
- students and graduates of 2-year sectoral vocational schools who begin their education in grade 1 of these schools starting from academic year 2020/2021, and in subsequent grades in the following years;
- candidates who have completed qualification-based vocational courses conducted by the institutions referred to in Section 117.2 of the Education Law Act of 14 December 2016 (Journal of Laws 2017, Item 59) that begin on or after 1 January 2020;
- candidates who meet the criteria specified by regulations on extramural examinations — from 1 November 2025; and
- adults who have completed practical vocational education or training for adults (provided that the training syllabus incorporates the requirements of the VET core curriculum) and whose applications have been submitted by the district governor (starosta) to the Examination Board — from 1 November 2025.
Starting from 1 November 2025, the vocational examination will also be conducted as an extramural examination for candidates who have:
- graduated from a general lower-secondary school or an eight-year primary school; or
- trained or worked in an occupation in which a given qualification has been distinguished.
WHAT DOES THE VOCATIONAL EXAMINATION TEST?
The vocational examination (officially termed the “examination confirming vocational qualifications”) is intended to evaluate the candidate’s attainment of the required knowledge and skills covered by a single qualification related to a given occupation.
The required scope of knowledge and skills for each qualification is specified in the vocational education and training (VET) core curriculum.
The Central Examination Board has published guides to the vocational examination that contain various types of information, including sample questions and assignments.
WHEN IS THE VOCATIONAL EXAMINATION CONDUCTED?
In 2018, three sessions will be held on the following dates:
- 10 January to 17 February (written part on 11 January) — only for the AU.66 qualification (practical part on 11 January);
- 19 June to 4 July (written part on 19 June) — only for the following qualifications: AU.04, AU.35, AU.36, AU.39, AU.61, AU.63, AU.66, AU.67, BD.01, BD.17, BD.31, EE.01, EE.08, EE.10, TG.08, ST.04, MG.08, MG.14, MS.04, MS.05, MS.08, MS.14, MS.18, RL.10, RL.26; and
- 7 May to 6 June — only for the qualifications related to the Firefighting Technician profession (written part for MS.20 on 7 May).
A detailed timetable is provided in an announcement made by the Director of the Central Examination Board, available here.
WHAT IS THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS?
Students must submit their entry applications at least 4 months before the date the examination.
Candidates taking the examination under the extramural procedure must submit their requests for admission by 31 January (if they intend to take the examination in the given year) or by 30 September (if they intend to take the examination in the following year).
WHAT DOES THE VOCATIONAL EXAMINATION LOOK LIKE?
The vocational examination consists of a written part and a practical part.
WHAT DOES THE WRITTEN PART LOOK LIKE?
The written part takes 60 minutes and is conducted in the form of a test consisting of 40 closed questions, each with four answers to choose from (only one being correct). The written part of the examination can be taken using printed examination papers or on a computer. The video below shows a computer-based examination.
WHAT DOES THE PRACTICAL PART LOOK LIKE?
The practical part takes between 120 and 240 minutes, and is conducted in the form of a practical test where the examinee performs an assignment (as described in the examination paper) at an examination station. The duration of the practical part of the vocational examination for each qualification is specified in the guide. In addition, the examinee has 10 minutes to read the assignment and become familiar with the equipment at the examination station (this time is not included in the time allocated for the practical part of the vocational examination).
IS A FEE CHARGED FOR TAKING THE VOCATIONAL EXAMINATION?
The examination is free of charge for students.
For graduates, a fee of PLN 173.20 is charged on the third take and subsequent takes.
For young employees, a fee of PLN 173.20 is charged (the cost of the examination is paid by the employer).
Candidates who take the vocational examination as an extramural examination pay a fee of PLN 173.20 for the entire examination. When retaking only one part of the extramural examination, the fee is PLN 57.73 for the written part and PLN 115.47 for the practical part.
ARE WINNERS AND FINALISTS OF COMPETITIONS AND TOURNAMENTS EXEMPTED FROM THE VOCATIONAL EXAMINATION?
Winners and finalists of competitions and tournaments relevant to the selected area of education and training are exempted from the written part of the vocational examination and receive a maximum score in the vocational qualification certificate.
The list of competitions and tournaments relevant to each specific subject or area of expertise that support exemption from the written part of the vocational examination is announced by the minister in charge of schooling and education (Minister of National Education) in the Public Information Bulletin at least 2 years before the date of the examination.
CAN THE VOCATIONAL EXAMINATION BE ADJUSTED TO THE NEEDS AND ABILITIES OF PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS (INCLUDING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES)?
Yes. Vocational examination conditions and/or arrangements can be adjusted (on the basis of appropriate documentation) to accommodate the needs of:
- people with deafness;
- people with hearing impairments;
- people with blindness;
- people with visual impairments;
- people with mobility impairments and temporary hand disabilities;
- people with aphasia;
- people mild intellectual disability;
- people with autism, including Asperger syndrome;
- people with chronic conditions;
- people with temporary conditions or impairments;
- people with specific learning difficulties;
- people with social maladjustment or at risk of social maladjustment;
- people in a crisis or traumatic situation;
- people with adaptation difficulties associated with previous education abroad; and
- people with language communication disorders.
Detailed procedures for making adjustments are listed in the announcement made by the Director of the Central Examination Board, which must be published on or before 1 September of the academic year in which the examination is to be conducted.
WHAT CONDITIONS MUST BE FULFILLED TO PASS THE EXAMINATION?
To pass the vocational examination for a given occupation, the candidate must achieve a score of:
- at least 50% (i.e. at least 20 points) in the written part; and
- at least 75% in the practical part.
The result of the vocational examination is determined and communicated by the Regional Examination Board.
WHAT DOCUMENT DO YOU RECEIVE AFTER PASSING THE EXAMINATION?
A candidate who has passed the vocational examination for a given occupation receives a vocational qualification certificate issued by the Regional Examination Board.
A person who holds certificates to confirm all qualifications related to a given occupation and has the required level of education receives a vocational qualification diploma. At the graduate’s request, a Europass Diploma Supplement is issued in connection with the diploma. This document provides additional information to make the diploma easier to understand — especially for foreign employers or institutions.
Diplomas and diploma supplements are issued by Regional Examination Boards.
A candidate who has failed the vocational examination receives information on the results.