The Iranian education system consists of pre-school, primary, middle, and secondary schools.
Five-year-old children attend preschool for one year before entering primary schools. The primary school covers grades 1-5 for children 6 to 11 years old. In primary school, students have to pass final exams at the end of each year. At the end of grade 5, students take a nation wide exam. Those who pass the exam proceed to middle school. Middle school covers grades 6 to 8 for children from 12 to 14 years old. In this phase, students become prepared to decide which branch (academic or technical/vocational) they intend to choose in the secondary school. The secondary school covers grades 9 to 12 for children 15-18 years of age. Secondary education is divided into two main branches, academic/general and technical/vocational. The academic branch is divided into four sub branches, literature, culture, social-economics, physics-mathematics, and experimental sciences. The technical branch is designed to train technicians for the labor market. This branch is divided into three sub branches, technical, business, and agriculture. .
Since the Islamic revolution, the Iranian ministry of education has changed the secondary education system. Under the new plan, which was approved in 1990, the secondary education cycle is reduced to three years during which students are required to complete 96 units in order to be awarded the high school Diploma. The secondary graduates who are interested in post-secondary education must complete a one-year preparation to be entitled for attending the university entrance examination.
In Iran, English as a second language is introduced from grade 7. Although education is free in Iran, there are differences between urban and rural areas as well as different regions in the country with respect to the availability of schools and various programs. Nevertheless, the ministry of education is responsible for providing textbooks for all pre-university educational courses and prints 747 titles in millions of copies each year.