heads of preparatory classes and tight courses describe their selection criteria

April 22, 2022 at 5:15 PM, changed to April 22, 2022 at 5:16 PM

On Parcoursup’s post-baccalaureate assignment platform, there is a particular demand for some training courses. As a result, places are very expensive. But on what criteria are the candidates determined? The JDD put the question to three heads of preparatory classes for the Grandes Ecoles (scientific/commercial/literary) and to three regulars of legal licenses in suspense. Grades, class rank, bonus point for an option, teacher ratings, cover letters… Everyone has their own method and criteria.

Denis Choimet, President of the Science Preparatory Class Teachers’ Union

“Since the introduction of the new baccalaureate, candidate numbers have been pushed up, often between 18 and 20 on average; which makes the choice more difficult. Our recruitment has an algorithmic component but also a human one. We first perform a pre-sorting using quantitative data such as the candidates’ grades, their ranking, the deviation from the class mean. We don’t look at all topics. For example, history geography, which is not taught in science preparatory class, is not taken into account. We are interested in the chosen scientific specialties (mathematics, physics, digital and computer science, engineering) but also in French and philosophy, which weigh heavily in the competitions, and in modern language 1. Then we take everything back by hand. At my school, each file is carefully read by two teachers separately. We take into account the ratings of the professors mentioned in the Future Magazine (the personalized comments are the most enlightening for us) and the motivation letters to detect qualities such as curiosity, interest in science, accuracy and stubbornness. At Lycée du Parc, where I teach, we also make sure that we recruit from a fairly large geographic area and don’t just choose students from the most reputable institutions. †

A student who finishes tenth in a very good class will probably be able to follow in the preparatory class; the one who is tenth in a middle class is less sure

Alain Joyeux, President of the Association of Teachers of Economic and Commercial Preparatory Classes

“First we have a statistical processing of files. A student who is not average in a field of study that interests us – mathematics, geopolitics, economics, modern languages, philosophy… – will probably not be hired. This eliminates a quarter to a third of the candidates. For the others, the results will be examined by a committee composed of preparatory class teachers under the authority of the head of the institution. Each will be able to re-evaluate them based on their own criteria, for example by awarding a bonus to high school students who have progressed between first and last year or who finish first in all disciplines. For each subject, we look at the candidate’s average, but also at his rank and the level of the class indicated by the school of origin. A student who finishes tenth in a very good class will probably be able to follow in the preparatory class; who is tenth in a middle class is less certain. In any case, the level of recruitment is not the same depending on the preparatory lesson requested. In addition to the grades, we also look at the teachers’ assessments of the student’s orientation project. If it doesn’t say anything, that’s a bad sign. Motivation letters, on the other hand, are not decisive. We look at it in reorientation. But for recent graduates, we tend to read them very quickly. †

Also Read – These Students Who Are Going to Study Abroad to Escape the Parcoursup Algorithm

Nicolas Thibault, Vice President of the Association of Teachers of First and Higher Letters (APPLS)

“We look at the grades, the priority and the ranking of the students. For the “classic” preparatory literature (A/L) classes, candidates may have taken a specialty in addition to the subjects of the common core. But if it is necessary to choose between two files of equivalent level, we prefer to choose the pupil who has followed literary specialties (History-geography, geopolitics and political sciences / humanities, literature and philosophy / Literature, languages ​​and cultures of antiquity and foreign languages, literature and civilizations). For Preparatory Letters and Social Sciences (B/L), candidates must have completed Mathematics up to the last year, either as a specialty or as an option. Not all committees work with pre-classification. The averages are weighted according to the topics that seem most important. But it’s hard to generalize because every high school does it in its own way. Examiners often have institutions in mind in the recruitment pool. They know those who are called “very good” in the baccalaureate very high. A student who is 15th in his class in a reputable institution is therefore not allowed to censor himself. In general, little importance is given to the “activities and areas of interest” indicated by the students, but it is better to read them carefully. The same goes for job applications. Barring exceptions, they will not allow a file to be rebuilt. But if there are mistakes in French, confusion of establishment or course, it will have a negative effect. Every year we get a few in the form of a poem. And there it serves the candidate; that’s not what we’re asking for. †

Also read – “We spent two weekends there! “: for high school students, the job application letter puzzle

Stéphane Braconnier, President of the University of Paris-Panthéon-Assas

“There is a decision support mechanism set up by higher education, but it can be improved. For example, we can increase the coefficients associated with the French baccalaureate grade, modulate the coefficients for history-geography or philosophy points, give a half-point bonus for the choice of certain specialties or for the option “law and majors” challenges of the contemporary world”. What eludes us is how the student was initially assessed. It is absolutely impossible for us to take into account more or less strict assessments. In any case, under the dual effect of Covid-19 and the baccalaureate reform, we see an overall rise in student averages. This software allows us to pre-classify. It is essential: we receive 50,000 applications from all disciplines! But in a second step, we also look at the evaluations of the teachers and the motivation letters. †

A young person has the right to be wrong when he made his choices at 16

Thibaud Boncourt, Political Science Lecturer at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

“Our license is one of the most tense in France: we receive almost 7,000 applications for only… 65 places! In order to rank the applications, we proceed in two phases. First, we classify the files on the basis of the marks obtained in the subjects that seem relevant to us for a degree in political science: those of the common core such as philosophy, French, history-geography and life in the first language, but also those from specialties such as History-Geography, Geopolitics and Political Sciences, Economic and Social Sciences, Mathematics, etc. if the candidate has chosen them. But we do not discriminate against those who have followed other specialties, because a young person has the right to make mistakes when he made his choices at the age of 16. To make this pre-classification, we don’t use the Parcoursup decision support tool; we extract the data and work on it in excel. We then look at the files from a qualitative angle, in particular by examining the training projects. We try to “recruit” different profiles, either academically, socially or according to the choice of specialties. We also hire candidates for whom it is difficult to assign a grade at the start: students returning to study or young people coming from abroad, for example. Finally, we do not take into account the secondary schools of origin. We don’t want to do it, and we don’t have the resources to have a small file of all the secondary schools in France and Navarra! †

Laurent Gamet, Dean of the Faculty of Law in Paris 12

“Every year we receive almost 8,000 requests for about 800 places (in addition to repeaters). But in general, candidates apply in parallel to nine other faculties. Last year we recruited to the 5,000th file. To rank the applications, this year we need to look at the high school average over the past five terms. If there are tie, we will decide between them thanks to the brands of French and those of the specialties. But what really matters is the overall average. We do not look at the establishments of origin. The rank of the candidate in his class is not taken into account. The French university has no NASA software! We can only do basic things. And if someone thinks you can read 8,000 cover letters, that’s fantasy! †

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