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I'm writing my curriculum vitae in english, but attended school in Chile. In our education system we have "educación básica y media". Those are the first twelve years of formal education before the University. I'm struggling to find a good translation for this term. In particular I'm interested in finding a term that can be universally understandable, independent of the particular schooling system of different countries.

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Completed pre-University schooling. (Though, I feel compelled to point out, no one is likely to care about that on a CV. It's considered pretty much table stakes for any employment, and so is assumed of all applicants. If I were proofing your CV, I'd recommend you strike it altogether.) – Dan Bron Mar 15 at 14:46
@Egox K-12 is exclusively used in the US. – choster Mar 15 at 15:02
Can we know which country you are writing for? The terminology can change between US, UK, Australia, Canada, and others. I can speak only to the US, where primary school is grades K-5 (usually ages 5 to 10) and secondary school is grades 6-12 (ages 11 to 18). – cobaltduck Mar 15 at 15:03
It may be better to simply state your highest level of school achievement using the form equivalent to Year 12 or equivalent to GCE A-Level, etc, using the terminology of whichever country you're applying to. At this point, this is not strictly-speaking an English question, but one for academia if you're applying for a university position or the workplace if you're applying for a job. (Note: I'm not active on those SE sites. Before posting, read their help pages to see if the question is on-topic there.) – Lawrence Mar 15 at 15:16
@deadrat Is that really a thing? Interesting. Where is is used? – Dan Bron Mar 15 at 16:06

I would recommend you write

"Completed Primary and Secondary Education (12 years) in [name of city], Chile."

This will be clearly understood by any English speaker.

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From all the given options, "Pre-University Schooling" is the one I like the most because of its universality.

This was previously posted as a comment.

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Maybe it depends on which English-speaking country you're looking to use the CV in, but in the UK we have Primary (7-10) and Secondary (11-15) which I guess should be sufficient elsewhere, unless somebody else can say different? We also use Further Education to refer to the period between Secondary (or High) school and University (referred to as Higher Education). This isn't compulsory, but obviously universities will require those qualifications in order to gain entry.

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To illustrate the differences, in the US the period between age 15 and 17/18 is still compulsory, still referred to as Secondary, and leads directly to college (university). Higher Education is a synonym for college. – cobaltduck Mar 15 at 15:11
In the U.S., there is a distinction between primary and elementary in most places, and higher education refers to any postsecondary degree-earning course, including baccalaureate programs. – choster Mar 15 at 15:12
@choster- What part of the US? In my experience (lived in MI/PA/NY/OH) primary == elementary. – cobaltduck Mar 15 at 15:15
@cobaltduck Compulsory attendance laws vary by state. The lowest age is 16/10th grade in Arizona and Wyoming. – deadrat Mar 15 at 15:44
This is also wrong: '[Further Ed] isn't compulsory, but obviously universities will require those qualifications in order to gain entry.' FE qualifications can be accepted for HE (university) entrance instead of conventional senior school (A-level) certificates, typically on a case-by case basis -- e.g. for students from countries with markedly different school systems, or mature students who left school pre-A-level to begin careers and now wish to enter HE. FE is not a conventional route to HE, however, and is not 'lower'. The two sectors run alongside each other, for different purposes. – Captain Cranium Mar 15 at 17:54

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