‘Can we escape time?’ Philosophical query kicks off French baccalaureate

It's that time of year again. Monday marks the start of what some describe as the most gruelling and stressful rites of passage in France: the baccalaureate, colloquially called the “bac”.

This year, more than 740,000 students all over the country will sit the end-of-high- school exam, which was introduced by Napoleon in 1808.

There are three different categories of baccalaureate exams:professional, focused on trades like carpentry; technological, which is centered on computer sciences; and the general baccalaureate.

A majority of students take the general baccalaureate, for which they must choose between three tracks: Literature (L), Economic and Social Sciences (ES), or Science and Math (S).

But the choice represents much more than just a preference: it more or less determines what kind of further studies – and eventually careers – students can pursue.

Every year the test starts with perhaps the hardest subject: philosophy.

This year, the questions include: "Is it possible to escape time?" and "Does one sacrifice freedom by recognising one's duties?"