During the pre-year, students are expected to pass a minimum of 25 courses. This means that the average minimum workload is five courses/term.

All of the compulsory pre-year courses listed below must be completed.

Subject - Number of compulsory courses

  • Finnish* - 3 (4 for students planning to choose DP Finnish A literature)
  • English A - 4 (5 for students not studying Finnish as a mother tongue)
  • Swedish B* - 2 (5 for students taking the matriculation examination test)
  • Foreign languages* - Compulsory for those students who choose French, German ab initio or Finnish B in DP: French 1 course, German 1 course,  Finnish 3 courses.
  • Economics 1
  • History - 1 (2 for students planning to choose DP History)
  • Psychology - 1
  • Biology - 1 (2 for students planning to choose DP Biology/ESS)
  • Chemistry - 1 (2 for students planning to choose DP Chemistry)
  • Physics - 1 (2 for students planning to choose DP Physics)
  • Mathematics - 4 (5 for students planning to choose DP HL Math)
  • Lab science course - 1

TOTAL: 23-30 courses

*Finnish, Swedish and French are not compulsory for students who have no previous studies in them.

All of the above-mentioned compulsory courses must be studied during the pre-DP year. In addition, students choose other courses so that their total is at least 25 courses. 

Extra subjects particularly recommended for study include Physical Education, Music, Art and foreign languages. Please note that the courses taught in the national section are taught in Finnish!

The first 2 Swedish courses are compulsory for students who have previously studied Swedish. However, we recommend that students take all 5 Swedish courses on offer, which will make it possible, for those who so wish, to take the Swedish test of the Finnish matriculation examination during their second year.

Course 1 in subjects Physics, Chemistry and History is compulsory. Those who are planning to continue with these subjects in the DP must also take the 2nd course (prePHY2, preCH2, preHI2). Students are encouraged to take these optional courses even if they don’t plan to continue with the subject.

Course 1 in Biology is compulsory. Those who are planning to study Biology or ESS in the DP must take preBI2. Students are encouraged to take this optional course even if they don’t plan to continue with these subjects.


preBI 1 Biology 1

The course provides an introduction to the study of the structure and function of organisms, the classification of organisms and basics of evolution theory, biological diversity. The course includes practical work and lab experiments.

preBI 2 Biology 2

OPTIONAL COURSE. This course is compulsory for those students who are planning to take Biology or ESS as their IB subject. The course provides an introduction to the field of ecology and environmental problems, such as climate change, environmental pollution or loss of biodiversity and their possible solutions. The course includes practical work and lab experiments.


preCH 1 Microscopic world of chemistry

The course concentrates on the structure and characteristics of matter. The topics include atomic structure, periodic table, chemical bonds and calculations about amount of substance and concentration. The structure of matter is studied through practical experiments and simulations.

preCH 2 Chemistry of life

OPTIONAL COURSE. This course is compulsory for those students who are planning to take Chemistry as their DP subject. It is also very useful for IB Biology students. The course concentrates on organic chemistry and how chemical compounds are classified into different groups according to their structure and reactions. The second part of this course is focused on quantitative chemistry involving gaseous compounds and reaction stoichiometry. Practical work includes lab experiments to synthetize and analyse compounds.


preEC1 Introduction to Economics

Economics is a social science that studies the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. The DP economics course uses economic theories to examine human behavior at three levels: at the level of producers and consumers in individual markets (microeconomics), at the level of the government and the national economy (macroeconomics), and at an international level where countries are becoming increasingly interdependent through international trade and the movement of labour and capital (the global economy). The pre-year course serves as an introduction to the DP economics course, focusing on basic concepts and the way economists approach the world.


preEN 1 English Literatures and Cultures 1 (Prose: The short story)

An introduction to the study of literature written in English. The course will focus on the study of short stories, and students will familiarize themselves with the language of literary analysis. Written assignments will revolve around developing essay writing and commentary skills.

preEN2 English Literatures and Cultures 2 (Poetry)

Investigation of English literature and cultures continues. The focus in this course is on poetry, and attention will be paid to developing skills associated with poetry analysis and commentary writing.

preEN3 English Literatures and Cultures 3 (Language in Cultural Context and Mass Communication)

During the pre-year courses, students will also have a chance to learn about and investigate issues connected to language in relation to society as well as how language is used as a tool in mass communication.

There will also be a project to investigate the history of the English language, as well as continued practice in writing essays and commentaries.

preEN 4 Introduction to the world of the IB Diploma

A variety of IB Diploma Programme issues will be addressed. The course aims to prepare students for the IB Diploma Programme and further improve academic vocabulary skills.

preEN5 Further studies in English Literatures

This course is taught at the same time with A Finnish. It is compulsory for students not taking Finnish A. The purpose of the course is to improve argumentative skills through debating as well as work for the first time with an entire novel during the second half of the course.

PreEN6 Improving language skills

Extra course for students who have not been studying in English before joining the pre-year. During this course the students get to improve their overall language skills (written, listening and oral) through various activities to prepare them for their future studies in English.

Finnish (Mother tongue)

preFI1 Kirjallisuusanalyysin avaimia

Kurssilla kehitetään kirjallisuuden analyysin taitoja. Perehdytään analyysin peruskäsitteisiin ja tutustutaan erilaisiin kirjallisuuden tulkintatapoihin. Kehitetään valmiutta kirjoittaa toisten tekstien pohjalta. Tehdään monipuolisia kirjoitus- ja keskusteluharjoituksia. Perehdytään proosaan.

preFI2 Tekstin rakentamisen perusteita

Perehdytään erilaisten tekstilajien ominaispiirteisiin. Harjoitellaan oman tekstin suunnittelua, muokkaamista ja viimeistelyä. Kerrataan kielenhuollon perusasioita osallistujien tarpeiden mukaan, ohjataan kielen omatoimiseen huoltoon. Perehdytään myös suullisen puheenvuoron valmistamiseen ja arvioimiseen.

preFI3 Kirjallisuuden historiaa

Kurssilla tutustutaan länsimaisen kirjallisuuden tyylivirtauksiin. Syvennetään kirjallisuuden tulkintataitoja ja perehdytään draamaan.

preFI4 Suomen kirjallisuuden historiaa

VALINNAINEN KURSSI. Pakollinen opiskelijoille, jotka valitsevat Finnish A: Literature -aineen IB-tutkintoonsa. Kurssilla syvennytään suomalaisen kirjallisuuden historiaan. Perehdytään lyriikkaan kirjallisuuden lajina, analysoidaan ja tulkitaan runoja.

Finnish (Foreign language)

preSU1 -preSU3

These courses are compulsory for those students who want to include Finnish B in their IB Diploma studies. All learners of Finnish are welcome to attend.



This course is compulsory for those students who want to include French B in their IB Diploma studies. Everybody who has previous studies in the language is welcome to attend.



Introduction to the German language and culture. This course starts with the very basic language skills and no prior knowledge of the language is required from the students.


preHI1 Ancient, medieval and early modern history

This is an introductory course to history. It will give the students a good general knowledge on global history from the beginning of the human past up until the 19th century. Students will learn to analyse archaeological and historical sources academically and give small presentations.

preHI 2 Finnish history

OPTIONAL COURSE. The topic of the course is Finnish history and the basics of doing historical research. It will provide the students with the ability to understand and analyse the formation of Finnish culture and identity.

Laboratory course (½ course)


This short course provides a hands-on opportunity to do practical work and to learn how to plan and write a good lab report. During the course the students enjoy experiments in the world of natural science. No final exam.


preMA1 Functions and Equations 1

  • compulsory course for everyone
  • set of numbers and basic operation of sets
  • Linear equations & inequalities
  • Solving simultaneous equations, elimination, substitution and graphical methods
  • factorization method
  • Indices and surds (basic rules)
  • Quadratic equations  (discriminant, quadratic formula)

preMA2 Functions and Equations 2

  • compulsory course for everyone
  • Scientific notation and significant figure
  • Disguised quadratic equation (simple ones)
  • Graph of quadratic function (vertex, axis of symmetry, roots)
  • quadratic inequalities (graphical method only)
  • Further simultaneous equations
  • Maxima and minima of a quadratic function
  • Logarithms  (basic calculation rules, basic logarithmic equation)

preMA3 Geometry

  • compulsory for students planning to choose HL Math in the DP
  • Geometry of triangles
  • Sine rule
  • Cosine rule
  • Angles of elevation and depression, bearing, compass directions
  • Area of triangle (different methods)
  • The circle, sector, segment, arc, diameter, radius, chord
  • Volume and surface area of solids (eg prism, cuboid, cylinder, cone, pyramid, sphere)
  • Different proof methods

preMA4 Coordinate geometry & Functions and Equations 3

  • compulsory for students planning to choose HL Math in the DP
  • Distance between two points
  • Gradient of a straight line, various forms of equation of a line
  • Parallel and perpendicular line
  • Distance of a point from a line
  • Even and odd function
  • Modulus function
  • Composite function
  • Inverse function

preMA5 Trigonometry

  • compulsory for students planning to choose HL Math in the DP
  • Trigonometric functions
  • Trigonometric equations
  • Standard trigonometric identities
  • Proving trigonometric identities
  • Compound angles identities
  • Double angles identities


  • compulsory for students planning to choose SL Math in the DP
  • Geometry of triangles
  • Sine rule
  • Cosine rule
  • Angles of elevation and depression
  • Area of triangle (different methods)
  • Definition of radians
  • The circle, sector, segment, arc, diameter, radius, chord


  • compulsory for students planning to choose SL Math in the DP
  • Coordinate geometry (distance between two points, equation of a straight line)
  • Definition and elementary treatment of absolute value (modulus)
  • Unit circle
  • Trigonometric functions, periodic functions in general
  • Transformations of functions
  • Simple trigonometric equations
  • Exact values of some trigonometric ratios


Revision course for preMA1 and preMA2


prePHY1 Introduction and Mechanics

The first course is an introduction to physics. At the beginning of the course, students practice making measurements. The main contents of the course deal with mechanics. Topics include the velocity and acceleration of an object in one-dimensional motion, everyday forces and the way they affect motion.

prePHY2 Heat and Thermodynamics

OPTIONAL COURSE. Compulsory for students planning to study IB Physics. The course is concerned with the concept of mechanical energy, heat and thermal energy. The focus is on temperature,pressure, density and other variables that define the thermodynamic state of a physical system. Different phenomena of thermodynamics are studied, including heat transfer, thermal expansion and the change of state of gas.


prePS1 Introduction to Psychology

This course is an introduction to the scientific study of human mind and behaviour. The goal is to familiarise the students with key concepts of psychology, the basics of research methods, an overall view of different psychological approaches and psychological knowledge in everyday life. Teaching methods include for instance group work, co-operative learning,
discussion, different types of presentations and mind mapping.


preSW1 My Swedish language

The importance of Swedish now and in the future. The course revises and widens the vocabulary and structures learned in comprehensive school. It concentrates on familiar topics such as school, sports and music.

preSW2 Well-being and human relations

Well-being, human relations and good life. The course entails discussions in pairs and groups as well as reading and writing. The themes include everyday life, e.g. clothes, living, health, travel and food.

preSW3 Culture and media

Swedish-speaking Finns and other Nordic cultural phenomena and media from the youth´s point of view. Bilingual Helsinki. The course programme includes reading a variety of texts.

preSW4 Living environments

OPTIONAL COURSE. This course is compulsory for the students who plan to take the matriculation examination in Swedish. The course concentrates on current phenomena. The themes include media, immigration, army/non-military service, volunteer work and environment.

preSW5 Postgraduate studies and working life in Swedish

OPTIONAL COURSE. This course is compulsory for the students who plan to take the matriculation examination test in Swedish. What possibilities are there to study and work using Swedish? The topics include summer jobs, studies, working life, entrepreneurship and wellbeing.

Theory of knowledge (1/2 course)

preTOK Introduction to TOK

In this short introductory course the focus is on the nature of knowledge - where it comes from, what influences it, and what affects our understanding of the world around us. Theory of Knowledge is an integral part of the IB Diploma Programme. It is a subject centred broadly around the question “How do I know?” in relation to knowing about nature, humans, the past, ethical issues, how to live, what makes up good art, etc. The students learn to critically evaluate knowledge claims and to construct knowledge questions.

The grade given to a student after each course can be based on the final exam, participation in class, and possible papers/assignments during the course. After each of the five terms, students can see their results (both new and previous grades) on Wilma. 

Pre-year courses are graded according to the Finnish system: either using numbers 4-10 (ten being the best), or the letters S (passed satisfactorily) and O (not completed, if the student has, for example, failed to attend the final exam or return a compulsory assignment.  The missing component must be completed within the following term (terms 1-4) or by the end of the school year (term 5).

A grade will not be given to students who are repeatedly absent or neglect their studies. Absences without an acceptable reason affect the final course grade.

If a student fails the course (i.e. gets the grade 4) there is one chance to re-take the exam during one of the Exam Retake Days.

When pre-year students plan which subjects to take as their 6 IB Diploma subjects, it is recommended that they reflect upon their pre-year grades when making the decision. Students are normally expected to have at least an 8 in their future Higher Level subjects or a 7 in their Standard Level subjects. Students whose grades are not high enough or who have not completed all assignment components by the end of May cannot start the IB Diploma Programme.