School education begins at the primary/elementary school (Grundschule) for grades 1-4. After grade 4, children may attend one of the following secondary schools, according to their academic ability:
At the Gymnasium, pupils may take the Abitur leaving examination, a prerequisite for admission to university. The Gesamtschule combines the three traditional secondary school types in one location, whereas the Sekundarschule combines Realschule and Gymnasium only. As a rule, German state schools used to be half-day schools. They are open to all and do not charge fees. However, full-day schooling is increasing, including open all-day primary schools. The number of pupils' day home places (fees charged) has decreased accordingly.