It is in relation to the French educational system. But fifth what?


"Cinquième" would correspond to the seventh grade in the US but the system is different in France and in the US. In the US, 1st grade is our "CP" ("cours préparatoire"), and they count going up, but we count going down starting at "sixième" which is the US "6th grade".

For "école primaire", we have:

  • CP ▶  US 1st grade
  • CE1 (cours élémentaire 1)
  • CE2
  • CM1 (cours moyen 1)
  • CM2 ▶  US 5th grade

For "collège" we have:

  • sixième (6e) ▶  US 6th grade
  • cinquième (5e)
  • quatrième (4e)
  • troisième (3e) ▶  US 9th grade

Then "lycée" is:

  • seconde ▶  US 10th grade
  • première
  • terminale ▶  US 12th grade

More details here.

After that, it is pretty complicated, with options not quite available in the US. That would deserve another post.


It's the French denomination for "7th grade".

We count down from 12th grade, which marks the end of secondary education after a big and important exam, the baccalauréat or "bac".

It's a little weird but it kind of makes sense to us. Basically, if you're in cinquième you have 5 years left before you finish your studies (or before you go to University).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.