The article aims at presenting the phenomenon of taking private lessons by secondary school leavers in Poland, Ukraine and Hungary. The research is an attempt to give an answer to the question of the scale of the phenomenon and its causes. In the research the survey method was used. The sample was of quota character. The research sample in Poland consisted of 3,479 respondents, 1,289 in Ukraine and 359 in Hungary. The collected data indicate that private lessons were taken by 52% of the respondents in Poland, 60% in Hungary and 71% in Ukraine. The results of correlative analysis indicate that private lessons were taken most often by the school leavers from the families of higher socio-economic status, having higher life aspirations and equipped with cultural capital with better average marks. Private lessons were taken more often in cities among students attending better schools. In the researched countries private lessons were taken in order to increase marks on the Matura exam as well as in order to get to a dream university. Perceiving private lessons as a “lifebelt” for students who lack knowledge was observed less often. Youth of higher status perceived private lessons as a strategy of building up advantage in the field of education.