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A university-preparatory school or college-preparatory school (also known as tertiary preparation and usually abbreviated to preparatory school, college prep school, tertiary prep, or prep school) is a secondary school, either public or private, designed to prepare students for a college or university education. Some schools will also include a junior, or elementary school.

In the United States, college prep schools are usually private (independent and fee-paying) schools that focus on providing a rigorous academic education, athletic involvement, and varied extracurricular activities and leadership opportunities, on the secondary school (9th-12th-grade) level. Only 1% of U.S. students attend college prep schools. However, in many U.S. cities, there are competitive, state-funded secondary schools, to which admission is gained by examination and/or academic performance, and that offer high quality college/university preparatory educations.

In most parts of Europe, such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and Scandinavia, there are state-funded secondary schools specializing in university-preparatory education. These go by many names depending on the country but may be called gymnasia, athenaea, a lycee or a liceo, depending on the nation.


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