What Are The Matric Pass Requirements?


Welcome to the comprehensive guide on the matric pass requirements in South Africa. As Grade 12 students, you are on the verge of completing your high school education and embarking on a new chapter of your life. 

The matric exams play a crucial role in determining your academic and career prospects, and understanding its requirements is vital for your success.

Overview Of The South African Matriculation Examination

Historical Background Of The South African Matriculation Examination

The South African Matriculation Examination, also known as the National Senior Certificate (NSC), has a rich history that dates back several decades. It has evolved over time to become the standard qualification for high school completion in the country. 

The exams serve as a culmination of your twelve years of basic education and assess your knowledge and skills across various subjects.

Purpose And Significance Of The Matriculation Examination

The matric exams hold immense importance in South Africa. They serve as a benchmark for academic achievement, providing a nationally recognised qualification that opens doors to further education and career opportunities. 

Achieving a matric certificate demonstrates your readiness to pursue higher education and equips you with essential skills for the workforce.

Importance Of Matric Pass Requirements

Influence On Further Education Opportunities

The matric pass requirements have a direct impact on your eligibility for admission to universities, colleges, and other tertiary institutions. 

Different academic programs may have specific subject prerequisites or minimum pass levels that you need to meet in order to pursue your desired course of study. Understanding these requirements will help you plan your educational pathway effectively.

Relevance For Employment And Career Prospects

Beyond further education, the matric certificate is often a minimum requirement for employment in various sectors. Employers value the skills and knowledge acquired through matric exams, and meeting the pass requirements enhances your employability. It lays the foundation for a successful career and provides opportunities for professional growth.

General Matric Pass Requirements

Completing 12 Years Of Basic Education

Structure Of The South African Basic Education System

Before delving into the specific requirements, it is important to understand the structure of the South African basic education system. It consists of three phases:

  • Foundation Phase (Grades R-3) 
  • Intermediate Phase (Grades 4-6)
  • Senior Phase (Grades 7-9)

These phases are followed by the Further Education and Training (FET) Phase, which includes:

  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12

Duration And Stages Of Basic Education

As Grade 12 students, you have completed the full twelve years of basic education, culminating in the matric exams. Each grade builds upon the previous one, equipping you with the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed academically.

Compulsory Subjects

Languages (Home Language And First Additional Language)

Language proficiency is an essential component of the matric pass requirements. The two language components include the Home Language, which is the language you are most proficient in, and the First Additional Language, which is an additional language you have studied throughout your schooling.

Importance Of First Additional Language

The First Additional Language requirement aims to develop your multilingual abilities, enabling you to communicate effectively in multiple languages. 

Proficiency in an additional language:

  • Enhances your cultural understanding 
  • Expands your career prospects
  • Fosters inclusivity in a diverse society

Mathematics Or Mathematical Literacy

Mathematics plays a significant role in various fields of study and real-life applications. However, the matric pass requirements offer an alternative option called Mathematical Literacy for students who may not have pursued Mathematics as their core subject.

Differentiating Between Mathematics And Mathematical Literacy

Mathematics focuses on problem-solving, critical thinking, and advanced mathematical concepts. Mathematical Literacy, on the other hand, emphasises the practical application of mathematics in everyday life, including financial literacy, statistics, and data analysis.

Significance Of Mathematical Skills For Various Fields Of Study

While Mathematical Literacy provides a valuable foundation for numeracy skills, certain academic disciplines and professions may require a stronger mathematical background. 

Fields such as engineering, science, and economics often require Mathematics as a prerequisite for admission.

Life Orientation

Life Orientation is a unique subject that covers a broad range of topics essential for personal and social development. It aims to equip you with life skills, critical thinking abilities, and ethical values necessary to navigate various aspects of life successfully.

Purpose And Objectives Of Life Orientation

Life Orientation focuses on holistic development, encompassing areas such as:

  • Personal well-being
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Career planning
  • Societal issues

Life Orientation also encourages:

  • Self-reflection
  • Empathy
  • Responsible citizenship.
Key Focus Areas Covered In Life Orientation

Life Orientation covers diverse topics, including:

  • Personal identity
  • Mental and physical health
  • Sexual education
  • Financial literacy
  • Environmental awareness
  • Human rights
  • Career exploration 

It prepares you for the challenges and responsibilities of adulthood.

Elective Subjects

Importance Of Selecting Elective Subjects Aligned With Career Goals

Elective subjects provide you with the opportunity to specialise in specific areas of interest and align your studies with your future career aspirations. Choosing subjects relevant to your intended field of study enhances your knowledge and skills in that particular domain.

Range Of Elective Subjects Available

South Africa offers various elective subjects across various disciplines, catering to diverse interests and career paths. These subjects are categorised into different streams: 

  • Sciences
  • Humanities
  • Arts and Culture
  • Technical and vocational
Sciences (Physical Sciences And Life Sciences)

Science subjects such as Physical Sciences and Life Sciences are crucial for those interested in pursuing careers in fields like:

  • Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Environmental sciences. 

These subjects provide a strong foundation in:

  • Scientific principles
  • Experimental methodologies
  • Critical thinking
Humanities (History, Geography, And Economics)

Humanities subjects like History, Geography, and Economics offer insights into human society, culture, and the world around us. These subjects develop critical analysis skills, global awareness, and an understanding of:

  • Historical events
  • Socio-economic systems
  • Geographical phenomena
Arts And Culture

Subjects within the Arts and Culture stream, such as Visual Arts, Music, and Drama, nurture:

  • Creativity
  • Self-expression
  • Aesthetic appreciation

They provide opportunities for

  • Artistic exploration
  • Develop artistic skills
  • Foster a deeper understanding of cultural diversity
Technical And Vocational Subjects

Technical and Vocational subjects encompass practical skills and knowledge relevant to specific trades or vocations. Examples include subjects like: 

These subjects prepare you for technical and vocational career paths.

Minimum Subject Pass Requirements

Promotion And Pass Levels

In the matric exams, subjects are assessed based on pass levels that determine whether you have achieved a sufficient level of proficiency in each subject. The pass levels are categorised as follows:

  • Pass Level 1: 30-39%
  • Pass Level 2: 40-49%
  • Pass Level 3: 50-59%
  • Pass Level 4: 60-69%
  • Pass Level 5:70-79%
  • Pass Level 6: 80-89%
  • Pass Level 7: 90-100%

Pass Level 1: 30-39%

Passing at this level indicates a basic understanding of the subject, but further improvement is necessary to demonstrate a more comprehensive knowledge and skill set.

Pass Level 2: 40-49%

Passing at this level signifies a satisfactory level of understanding and competency in the subject, although there is still room for improvement.

Pass Level 3: 50-59%

Attaining a pass at this level indicates a good grasp of the subject and demonstrates a solid foundation of knowledge and skills.

Pass Level 4: 60-69%

Passing at this level represents a substantial level of proficiency in the subject, demonstrating a thorough understanding and application of concepts.

Pass Level 5: 70-79%

Passing at this level reflects a high level of competence, indicating a strong grasp of the subject and the ability to apply knowledge effectively.

Pass Level 6: 80-89%

Achieving a pass at this level demonstrates exceptional proficiency in the subject, showcasing an advanced understanding and application of concepts.

Pass Level 7: 90-100%

Passing at this level signifies outstanding performance, indicating a mastery of the subject and the ability to engage with complex ideas at a highly advanced level.

Compulsory And Elective Subject Requirements

Language Requirements

Language proficiency is a fundamental requirement in matric exams. Meeting the language requirements involves demonstrating competence in both the Home Language and the First Additional Language.

Minimum Language Proficiency Levels

To pass the language components, you must achieve a minimum pass level in both the Home Language and the First Additional Language. These pass levels may vary depending on the specific language and educational policies.

Exemptions And Alternatives For Language Requirements

In certain cases, students may be exempted from studying a particular language if they meet specific criteria. However, alternative subjects or courses may be required as substitutes for language studies.

Mathematics Or Mathematical Literacy Requirement

The matric pass requirements include a mathematics component, which can be fulfilled by either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy.

Minimum Achievement Standards For Mathematics Or Mathematical Literacy

To meet the mathematics requirement, you need to achieve a minimum pass level in either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy. Each subject has its own specific content and skills that you must master.

Implications For Different Academic Pathways

It is essential to consider the academic and career paths you intend to pursue when deciding between Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy. Certain fields, such as engineering or scientific disciplines, typically require Mathematics as a prerequisite for admission.

Additional Subject Requirements

In addition to the compulsory subjects, you are required to choose elective subjects to complete your matric exams.

Subject-Specific Pass Requirements

Each elective subject has its own set of pass requirements, which may vary depending on the complexity of the subject and level of specialisation.

Selection Of Additional Subjects For Specific Career Paths

When selecting elective subjects, it is beneficial to consider your intended career path. Choosing subjects aligned with your interests and future goals can provide you with a strong foundation for further studies or employment in a specific field.

Additional Requirements For A Bachelor's Degree Pass

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree pass in matric requires meeting specific criteria beyond the general matric pass requirements. These additional requirements are designed to ensure that students are adequately prepared for higher education.

Minimum Number Of Subjects and Levels

To qualify for a Bachelor’s Degree pass, you must complete a minimum number of subjects at specific levels. The requirements may vary, but you need to pass at least four subjects at a designated higher level, often referred to as Higher Grade or Level 4.

Required Number Of Subjects For A Bachelor’s Degree Pass

The specific number of subjects required for a Bachelor’s Degree pass depends on the educational policies and the admission requirements of the institution. Typically, you will need to pass a combination of compulsory and elective subjects.

Differentiating Between Higher And Standard Grade Subjects

In the matric exams, subjects are offered at different levels:

  • Higher Grade 
  • Standard Grade

Higher Grade subjects require a deeper understanding of the subject and are typically associated with more rigorous assessment criteria.

Achievement Of Points Score

In addition to passing subjects, a points system is often used to evaluate overall performance in matric exams. Points are awarded based on the achievement level attained in each subject, and the total points are calculated to determine eligibility for admission to certain degree programs.

Calculation Of Points Based On Subject Performance

Each achievement level in a subject is assigned a specific point value. These points are then totalled to determine the overall points score. Higher achievement levels correspond to higher point values.

Importance Of Meeting The Required Points For Admission

Meeting the required points for admission to a specific degree program is crucial for securing a place at a university or tertiary institution. 

Different programs may have varying points thresholds, and meeting or exceeding these requirements enhances your chances of being accepted.

Language And Mathematics Requirements

Bachelor’s Degree programs often have specific language and mathematics requirements to ensure that students possess the necessary foundational skills for academic success in their chosen field of study.

Language Proficiency Requirements For Bachelor’s Degree Admission

Certain degree programs may require a specific level of language proficiency in the Home Language or First Additional Language. 

These requirements ensure that students can effectively communicate and engage with the academic content in their chosen field.

Mathematics Competency Expectations For Specific Fields Of Study

Depending on the chosen discipline, some Bachelor’s Degree programs may have specific mathematics competency expectations. This is particularly relevant for fields such as

  • Engineering
  • Science
  • Economics
  • Finance

where a solid mathematical foundation is essential.

Meeting Faculty-Specific Requirements

In addition to the general matric pass requirements, certain faculties or departments within universities may have specific subject prerequisites or additional entrance criteria.

Subject Prerequisites For Specific Faculties

Different faculties may require specific subjects as prerequisites for admission. For example, an engineering faculty may require Mathematics and Physical Sciences, while a humanities faculty may have language or social science prerequisites.

Additional Entrance Criteria For Competitive Programs

In highly competitive degree programs, there may be additional entrance criteria, such as: 

  • Interviews
  • Portfolio submissions
  • Aptitude tests

These additional requirements help institutions select candidates who demonstrate a high level of potential and suitability for the program.

Alternative Pathways To Matric Certification

Not all learners follow the traditional route of completing matric exams. South Africa offers alternative pathways for individuals who may have missed out on the opportunity to obtain a matric certificate or who wish to pursue different educational options.

Senior Certificate (SC)

The Senior Certificate provides an alternative pathway to achieving a matric certificate. It is primarily designed for individuals who did not complete their schooling or did not meet the requirements for the NSC. The SC is recognised as an equivalent qualification to the NSC.

Eligibility Criteria And Requirements

To be eligible for the Senior Certificate, individuals must meet specific criteria, which may include age requirements and completion of a minimum number of subjects.

The SC examination covers similar subject areas as the NSC, allowing individuals to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

Recognition And Acceptance Of The Senior Certificate

The Senior Certificate is recognised and accepted by various institutions, including colleges, universities, and employers. It provides individuals with opportunities for further education or entry into the workforce, similar to those who hold a matric certificate.

National Senior Certificate For Adults (NASCA)

The National Senior Certificate for Adults is an alternative pathway specifically designed for adult learners who did not complete their schooling or who wish to obtain a matric certificate later in life. NASCA provides an opportunity for adult learners to gain recognition for their knowledge and skills.

Overview Of The NASCA Program

NASCA offers adult learners the chance to earn a matric certificate through a flexible learning approach. It takes into consideration the unique circumstances and needs of adult learners, allowing them to study at their own pace and balance their educational pursuits with other responsibilities.

Benefits And Opportunities For Adult Learners

By obtaining a matric certificate through the NASCA program, adult learners can enhance their career prospects, pursue higher education opportunities, and gain personal fulfilment. It serves as a stepping stone for further advancement and lifelong learning.

Technical And Vocational Education And Training (TVET) Colleges

Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges offer alternative pathways for learners interested in practical and vocational skills development. TVET colleges provide a range of courses and qualifications that are valuable in various industries.

Role And Significance Of TVET Colleges

TVET colleges play a vital role in equipping learners with the knowledge and skills required for specific trades and occupations. They offer practical training, theoretical instruction, and workplace experience, preparing students for employment or entrepreneurship.

Matric Equivalent Qualifications Offered By TVET Colleges

TVET colleges offer a variety of qualifications that are recognised as equivalent to a matric certificate. These qualifications, such as the National Certificate (Vocational) or NATED courses, provide learners with the opportunity to specialise in specific fields and gain industry-specific skills.


In conclusion, understanding the matric pass requirements is essential for Grade 12 learners in South Africa. The Matriculation Examination serves as a milestone in their educational journey, opening doors to further education and shaping their career prospects. 

By meeting the matric pass requirements, students can lay a strong foundation for their future endeavours.

Throughout this article, we explored the various aspects of the matric pass requirements. We delved into the historical background and significance of the South African Matriculation Examination, recognising its importance as a qualification for higher education and employment opportunities.

We discussed the general matric pass requirements, including the completion of 12 years of basic education, the significance of compulsory subjects such as:

  • Languages
  • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
  • Life Orientation
  • The importance of selecting elective subjects aligned with career goals

Moreover, we explored the minimum subject pass requirements and the different pass levels, emphasising the implications of achieving different pass levels for academic progression. 

We also examined the specific subject requirements, including:

  • language proficiency
  • mathematics or mathematical literacy achievement
  • additional subject-specific pass requirements

Furthermore, we highlighted the additional requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree pass, including 

  • Minimum number of subjects and levels
  • Calculation of points based on subject performance
  • Importance of meeting faculty-specific requirements

Lastly, we explored alternative pathways to matric certification, such as:

  • Senior Certificate
  • National Senior Certificate for Adults
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training college opportunities

By understanding and fulfilling the matric pass requirements, learners can equip themselves with the necessary skills, knowledge, and qualifications to pursue their academic and career aspirations. 

Matric exams are a gateway to a world of opportunities, and their requirements provide a roadmap for success.

It is important for Grade 12 learners to familiarise themselves with the specific requirements set by the Department of Basic Education and their chosen institutions. 

By setting clear goals, seeking guidance from educators and mentors, and diligently preparing for matric exams, learners can strive towards achieving their desired results and unlocking a bright future.

As educators, mentors, and supporters of Grade 12 learners, it is crucial to provide them with the guidance and resources they need to navigate the matric pass requirements successfully. 

By empowering them with knowledge, examples, and comprehensive explanations, we can support their learning journey and help them overcome any challenges they may encounter.

Remember, matric exams are not just an assessment; they are a stepping stone towards a brighter future. 

With determination, hard work, and a thorough understanding of the matric pass requirements, learners can set themselves on a path of academic achievement and career success.

Author: Jan Badenhorst
Editor: Kamogelo Mkonto
Date Published: July 27, 2023