On the level of secondary education there are programs of two types: general secondary education programs and vocational secondary education programs. The contents of the general secondary education programs is defined by the National Standard of General Secondary Education. There are four directions [profiles] of the general secondary education programs:
- General education profile defined by a group of educational programs without a special focus on particular study subjects;
- Humanitarian and social profile with special focus on humanitarian and social sciences study subjects;
- Mathematics, natural sciences and technical profile with special focus on mathematics, natural sciences and technical sciences study subjects;
- Vocational profile defined by a group of educational programs with special focus on the vocational studies (for instance, arts, music, business, sports).
In the secondary education programs of all the profiles students have to study 8 mandatory study subjects: Latvian language and literature, minority language and literature in programs for minorities, a first foreign language, a second foreign language, mathematics, history, sports, basic business and information technologies.
In addition to the above there are 3 to 6 study subjects mandatory for the relevant profile in every education program. An educational establishments may offer some more optional study subjects amounting to 10 ā 15% of the total study time or utilise this time for deeper studies of some of the mandatory study subjects. Students of one class shall study in the education program of the same profile.
General secondary education programs are implemented in secondary schools and gymnasiums. State gymnasiums must offer secondary education programs of at least 3 different profiles. General secondary education may be obtained also in evening secondary schools.
In general secondary education programs for minorities at least five study subjects must be taught in Latvian every year. Latvian language and literature are not included in the above list. Studies of up to two fifths of the total study load during an academic year may be provided in a minority language.
Upon completion of a general secondary education program there are mandatory centralised exams. The contents and procedure of taking exams is defined by the Cabinet of Ministers. Graduates have to take at least 4 exams. According to the National Standard of General Secondary Education there are mandatory exams in Latvian language, foreign language and mathematics (starting with academic year 2008/ 2009. One exam shall be selected by a student.
Upon graduation from a secondary school or gymnasium students receive a certificate on general secondary education and an achievements sheet. The assessment of a centralised exam is certified in the Certificate on general secondary education. The above documents certifying the completion of the general secondary education entitle a graduate to continue studies in any higher education program.