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While the explanations of the single school forms are aright, the way they are connected to each other however is not:
While it used to be like you only can do your Abitur after graduating from the Gymnasium, you can now basically get the needed requirements also from a Realschule or even a Hauptschule if you do attend a special class in the latter that gives you a diploma that equals that of a Realschule.
This graph from Wikipedia.de sums it up quite nicely: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/Deutsches_Bildungssystem-quer.svg
Tried to fix it, but wasn`t very successful. Also someone has to explain the Fachoberschule better. It deserves an own segment (right know it is clumped at the end of the Realschule-Segment), but my knowledge about it is limited.
I have to question the assertion that there's no word in English for Der Spickzettel — it sounds exactly the same as what we call a "cheat sheet". No single word, maybe, but it definitely has a name.
The point is more the fact that using a Spickzettel in Germany is considered OK in Germany (except by the teachers), and "spicken" is a pretty harmless word, compared to "cheat". Question to the non-Germans here: If you saw another student using a cheat sheet, would you tell the teacher, or at least hope that the cheater gets caught? If you saw someone get caught cheating, would you think "serves him right"? If you learned that a politician had cheated in school like this, would you still vote for him?
Maybe I'm wrong, but AFAIK the mentality is different towards it.
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