Before 1974, secondary students had to pass ministerial examinations in order to graduate. Since that time, the marks that students earn in school during the year are taken into account when compiling the final mark. However, the results on the ministerial examinations have continued to carry more weight, to ensure that the value of the Secondary School Diploma (SSD) is recognized by institutions of higher learning (universities and CEGEPs, for example) and by employers. As a result, SSDs have the same value for all Québec students, regardless of when or where they were obtained. Responsibility for preparing secondary school leaving examinations is shared by the educational institutions and the Ministère.
Each year, the Ministère chooses a certain number of subjects for which it prepares ministerial examinations. Evaluation of student performance in the other subjects is the responsibility of the the schools.
The ministerial examinations, also known as uniform examinations within the education system, are written by teachers and education consultants from both the French and English sectors. In other words, many people contribute annually to the development of examinations coordinated by the Ministère.
Ministerial examinations are administered at the same time to all Québec students who are eligible to write them. A new examination is written for each subject and examination session, and the Ministère makes comparable examinations available from one session to another.