A similar test has also existed in Finland since the mid-19th century. The test is called ylioppilastutkinto in Finnish and studentexamen in Swedish. The official English language translation is matriculation examination. Since 1919, the test has been arranged by a national body, the Matriculation Examination Board. Before that, the administration of the test was the responsibility of the University of Helsinki.
Successful completion formerly legally entitled one to enroll as a university student (hence "matriculation"). Although the legal requirement has been lifted, matriculation without completing the test is still an exception. The universities are now free to arrange their own entrance examinations in addition to considering scores from the Matriculation Examination. Thus, universities accept students based both on entrance exam points, matriculation exam points, and also by a combined score from the two. Matriculation entitles one to wear the student cap.
Each examinee is required to participate in at least four tests in order to matriculate. As of 2005 the only mandatory part of the test is that of äidinkieli ("mother tongue"; Finnish for most students, Swedish or Sámi for some), including a composition test. The student then has to choose three other subjects from
* Second domestic language (Swedish for Finnish speakers or Finnish for Swedish speakers)
* Foreign language Languages are separated into A and B levels depending on the demanded skill. The language counted as part of the four obligatory subjects must be one of A-level. However, if a student takes advanced level mathematics as an obligatory subject, he may take B-level language exams. English, German and French are the most popular choices among students, but in addition, the students may take Russian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Inari Sámi, and Northern Sámi exams. The foreign language exams include listening and reading comprehension tests, grammar test and an essay.
* Mathematics (ordinary or advanced level), including 15 assignments 10 of which must be completed.
* Reaali in which examinees take between one or two exams, and are only allowed to answer questions from a single subject per exam. These subjects have to be chosen by the examinee well in advance prior to the exam. Exams consist of questions which require answers in the form of an essay. The subjects of reaali category are
* Religion, Evangelical Lutheran
* Religion, Orthodox Christian
* Education on ethics and moral history
* Health education
The exam takes place at schools according to minute regulations laid out by the national board. Each exam takes six hours. After the exam, the teachers grade the papers and send the graded papers to the national board which then re-grades every paper. The grading of the exam may be appealed against. In this case, the board re-examines the grading. The result of the re-examination is final and cannot be appealed to any authority.
The score of each test varies with the subject. For example, the maximum score for the test in Finnish or Swedish as a first language is 114 points, in mathematics 66 points and in foreign languages 299 points. The tests are graded according to normal distribution into seven verbal grades with Latin names: Improbatur (I), Approbatur (A), Lubenter Approbatur (B), Cum Laude Approbatur (C), Magna Cum Laude Approbatur (M), Eximia Cum Laude Approbatur (E) and Laudatur (L), from bottom to top. (A rough translation of the grades is "rejected", "accepted", "gladly accepted", "accepted with praise", "accepted with much praise", "accepted with excellent praise", and "praised"/"lauded".) In general, at least the grade A is required for the test to be passed. In every exam,
* 5% of students receive a laudatur
* 15% of students receive an eximia cum laude approbatur
* 20% of students receive a magna cum laude approbatur
* 24% of students receive a cum laude approbatur
* 20% of students receive a lubenter approbatur
* 11% of students receive an approbatur
* 5% of students receive an improbatur.
Traditionally, the test is taken in the spring, but it is also arranged every autumn and may be taken in up to three parts. Thus completing the matriculation exam may take up to one and half years. Usually, the last set of exams is taken at the end of the third year in upper secondary school. The exams take place in late March, but for the school-leavers, the school ends in mid-February, giving the students ample time to prepare for the test in solitary study. This occasion is celebrated by the traditional festivity of penkkarit.
If the student receives an improbatur in any of the obligatory exams, the whole exam is failed. However, a single failed obligatory exam may be compensated by good results from other exams. For this purpose, there is a compensation system where the total exam result of the student is calculated and it is compared to the result of the failed test. In order to get his/her diploma accepted, student must gather enough compensation points from all the other exams. Improbatur is divided to four classes (i+, i, i−, i=), each describing the depth of student's failure (i+ being the least bad) and each class has its own number of compensation points to be reached for an acceptable result (12, 14, 16 and 18 respectively). Points from accepted exams are awarded as follows: L 7 points, E 6, M 5, C 4, B 3 and A 2.