Following primary education, pupils who successfully complete that level advance to the next level of education, which is divided into two equal parts called preparatory and secondary education, lasting a total of six years. The first preparatory schools were established in 1972. One was designated for boys and one for girls. Preparatory schools often share facilities with either a primary or secondary school. At the preparatory level, students may choose from four specific options: general education, health sciences, military studies, or vocational training. At the end of preparatory education, students take a national examination. If they successfully pass it, they are enrolled in secondary education. However, if they do not pass, they are not eligible to re-enroll as regular students.
The first secondary school opened during the 1973-1974 academic year with an enrollment of 25 students. By 1985, there were more than 12,000 secondary students in Oman. Although secondary education levels still have lower enrollments than primary education (67 percent enrollment), this rate has been growing. Secondary education has two options, general education, which prepares pupils for the university, or a vocational education, which prepares pupils for careers. General education provides one year of basic academic subjects and two years in the humanities or sciences. The specialized vocational education includes basic academic subjects, but emphasizes Islamic, commercial, agricultural, industrial, or teacher training.
During the 1998-1999 academic school year, a new system was initiated, which consisted of ten years of basic education and two years of secondary education. This was introduced to 17 schools with the intent of gradually implementing this change throughout the country.