Fleur Delacour mentioned in one of the Harry Potter books

"At Beauxbatons, we 'ad a different way of doing things. I think eet was better. We sat our examinations after six years of study, not five."

How exactly would those examinations work if, for example, a student transferred from Beauxbatons to Hogwarts in their sixth year, how would they take the examination considering Hogwarts does their exams in their fifth year?

  • 1
    The first point to address may be if there are transfers from one school to another... (update) Well, there are exchanges programs apparently (see Are there canon examples of students permanently transfering from one school to another in Potterverse?), but the answers there do not bring much about Beauxbatons specifically.
    – Jenayah
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 0:11
  • 9
    I don't see a problem. Just because you normally take your OWLs in your fifth year doesn't mean that you can't take them in your sixth year if you haven't already. Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 0:30
  • 5
    This is not really different to real-world schools. Different countries have different practices, and children who move to a school in a new country may have to take additional exams there. Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 3:59
  • Also, these exams are inspired by real UK exam-based credentials (specifically, GCSEs and A-Levels), which can, or at least could, be taken at any time, even (in theory) by random people off the street. The point was that the exams were separate from the school and standardized across the country. Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 21:18
  • 1
    @RobertColumbia I think Owls were more likely inspired by O levels the exams that preceded GSCEs before 1987. These are the exams that someone of the vintage of J.K.Rowling (or myself) would have taken.
    – Sarriesfan
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 22:13

2 Answers 2


They’d likely be given make-up O.W.L.s.

A student who transferred from Beauxbatons to Hogwarts after their fifth year, especially if they left before the sixth year exam at Beauxbatons, would likely take the O.W.L.s late. Though O.W.L.s are typically done in fifth year, older students can take them as well. Hogwarts students who fail are allowed to retake them - Crabbe and Goyle both retake their Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.s in their sixth year.

“Keep your voice down!’ spat Snape, for Malfoy’s voice had risen excitedly. ‘If your friends Crabbe and Goyle intend to pass their Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. this time around, they will need to work a little harder than they are doing at pres—”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 15 (The Unbreakable Vow)

It’s likely that any transfer students who needed to could take the O.W.L.s at Hogwarts despite being older than fifth year.


O.W.L.s are not given by Hogwarts; they are given by an external body, the Wizarding Examinations Authority. If a Beauxbatons student would transfer to Hogwarts for sixth year, the problem would not be how to take the examinations; rather, the problem would be how to attend classes. Sixth year classes require certain O.W.L. grades as a prerequisite for attending. If the transfer student hasn't taken the O.W.L.s he would be lacking the prerequisite and presumably be unable to attend class.

I would think it unlikely that the Wizarding Examinations Authority would conduct exams for an individual student. So unless the transfer students came at the end of the previous year and took the O.W.L.s they would probably be unable to take them prior to attending sixth year classes.

There are several options for what could then occur:

  1. Perhaps someone at Hogwarts (the professor of each class?) would personally examine the transfer students to see whether they are sufficiently advanced to attend sixth year classes, even without having taken any O.W.L.s. If this is the case then there would be no further need for the transfer students to take O.W.L.s. If they are planning on returning to Beauxbatons then they could just take the examinations there when they return. If they are planning on staying at Hogwarts it might depend on what N.E.W.T. classes they take. While various professions require a certain O.W.L. grade, it would stand to reason that if you had a N.E.W.T in that subject it would be at least as good as an O.W.L. If not, or if the transfer students weren't taking certain N.E.W.T classes, they could presumably just take the O.W.L.s at the end of the year with the current fifth years.
  2. Transfer students would not be permitted to take sixth year classes without O.W.L.s. As such they would have to be demoted to fifth year and take the O.W.L.s at the end of that year in order to progress, or simply delay transferring to Hogwarts until taking the O.W.L.s.
  3. Perhaps transfers after fifth year from Beauxbatons to Hogwarts are simply not allowed.

Essentially, we don't really know what would happen. In the related question of whether there are transfers in the first place, the only potential case of transferring to Hogwarts mentioned in any of the answers (full disclosure: I am the author of that answer) is a case that would have occurred prior to fifth year where this issue would not have come up.

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