The Pancyprian exams started on Tuesday morning with 7,352 students sitting a three-hour exam in modern Greek, around three weeks after they were initially scheduled to start.
Of the students, 5,465 have applied for positions in public universities in Cyprus and Greece while 1,887 just want to get a school leaving certificate.
A total of 653 are candidates for military schools.
Education minister Prodromos Predromou visited Kykkos lyceum in the morning before the first exam started.
He wished the students success and said this year has been especially difficult due to the coronavirus.
Exams will last until June 26, while some courses will be tested until the end of the month, he said.
“We have made use of the whole of June, so that there are intervals between the courses that are being examined and that the examinees can have the best possible performance. We have not yet seen the subjects for Modern Greek, but I hope that everything will go smoothly,” he said.
The aim of the ministry is to announce the results of the exams as soon as possible, as the exams have already been delayed by the coronavirus. The results should be out after the first 10 days of July, Prodromou announced.
He also commented on a final year student who tested positive for the virus, saying this student has to be tested at home away from the other pupils.
The Pancyprian parents organisation also wished the students every success for the exams.
“You, this year’s graduates, have had the misfortune to be in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic that has kept you away from your schools and marked your last year at school,” the association said in a statement. “From March 10 to May 11, you fought your own personal fight against an invisible enemy and you all came out victorious.”
The association thanked the teachers who “fought for your proper preparation.”
The number of students taking the exams is the lowest in six years. In 2019 some 7,689 sat the exams, in 2018 approximately 7,700, and in 2017 the figure was 8,137.
This year the exams are held under special conditions due to the coronavirus which made the students study via e-learning for more than two months.
Each exam room will have a maximum of 12 students.