APS (Admission Point Score) is an initial screening tool used by Universities. Each course has an APS score plus some additional requirements per subject. Students can work out their scores. If they do not meet the APS requirements, they should not apply, as they will not be considered by the University.
Most Universities use a 1 – 7 score that matches the levels shown on matric certificates.
|Marks (%)||APS score|
|80 – 100||7|
|70 – 79||6|
|60 – 69||5|
|50 – 59||4|
|40 – 49||3|
|30 – 39||2|
|0 – 29||1|
You can work out your total score by allocating points to your top 6 subjects (excluding Life Orientation).
Students who completed their matric studies at a TVET College and have a NCV qualification can apply for some courses. Generally these are Diploma rather than Degree courses or extended programmes, where students are given an additional year to complete the programme.
Remember that meeting the APS requirement does not give you automatic admission. You must also have a Bachelor’s Pass, high enough marks for certain subjects – and compete for spaces with all other applicants.
All universities have their own rules, so check them carefully. Here are some guidelines for TUT, University of Pretoria, Wits, UJ and Unisa
Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) uses the 1 -7 scale. You must add the points for 6 subjects (excluding LO). If you have more than 6 subjects, add the best 6.
TUT requires that all students have a pass mark for English and either Mathematics, Technical Mathematics or Mathematics Literacy. Generally this must be above 50% for degree courses and 40% for diploma courses. Some courses require English as first language, and others need a pass mark in Life Orientation, even if the mark doesn’t get APS points.
You may need to complete the National Benchmarking (NBT) admission test to decide whether you will be admitted directly to a programme or first must complete a foundation course.
There is a very useful APS calculator on the website. You can enter your subjects and the marks you achieved, and then click on the courses you are interested in to see whether you qualify. (Note: Not all courses are listed here.)
You can see a full list of courses on the Grades Companion page. It gives total APS scores and the scores required for compulsory and recommended subjects. It also shows at which of the TUT campuses the courses are offered.
The Prospectus section gives admission requirements and the curriculum for each course. It also gives specific admission details if you passed matric before 2008 or completed the National Certificate Vocational (NCV).
For more information: General admission requirements at TUT
The University of Pretoria uses the 1 -7 scale. You must add the points for your 6 best subjects (excluding LO).
Information about different courses and APS admission requirements for each can be found in the Undergraduate folder. It also gives the requirements for those who completed different examinations, such as Cambridge International or IEB.
UP offers some programmes that allow students an extra year to complete and lowers the APS requirements. For example, the BEng Engineering is a 4-year course and needs a total of 35 APS points but you can select the 5-year ENGAGE version, with an APS of 30, and slightly lower scores for language, Mathematics and Physical Science. The decision on admission will also depend on the student’s results on the National Benchmarking Test (NBT).
Similar arrangements are in place for courses in IT and Education. An APS of 26-29 will be considered, instead of 30, depending on the NBT results.
Wits uses an 8-point scale and adds points for Maths and English. Seven subjects are counted, including Life Orientation. LO gets half the points of other subjects, provided the marks are above 60%. No points are given for marks below 40%.
Table 2: APS calculation for Wits University
|WITS Marks (%)||WITS APS for Maths and English||WITS APS for other subjects||WITS APS for Life Orientation|
|90 – 100||8+2 = 10||8||4|
|80 – 89||7+2 = 9||7||3|
|70 – 79||6+2 = 8||6||2|
|60 – 69||5 + 2 = 7||5||1|
|50 – 59||4||4||0|
|40 – 49||3||3||0|
|30 – 39||0||0||0|
|0 – 29||0||0||0|
Students who have completed a National Certificate Vocational (NCV) may be considered in the Faculties of Commerce, Law and Management, and Health Sciences, but not for Humanities. Applicants to the Faculties of Engineering and Science may be considered, following interviews with the respective Deans.
This is the 5-point APS table for NCV subjects:
|WITS For NCV candidates Marks (%)||WITS For NCV candidates APS points|
|80 – 100||5|
|70 – 79||4|
|50 – 69||3|
|40 – 49||2|
|0 – 39||1|
NCV students must have both English and Mathematics, and marks above 70% (level 4) for all 7 subjects taken at College. Marks at level 3 will be considered for certain courses like Nursing and OT.
A Guide for Undergraduate Applicants gives information about admission requirements for the more than 3000 courses offered at Wits.
Mathematics is compulsory for all numerate programmes in Science, Engineering, Commerce, Law & Management. Maths Literacy is accepted for some other degrees. Physical Science is required for all Engineering and Health Sciences degrees. English as home language or first additional language is also compulsory for all degrees.
Each course has specific requirements. For example, a BCom (Accounting) requires 39+ points, a BCom (Accounting Science) requires 42+ and a BCom (Law) requires 43+. Some courses have very high requirements. For example, a BSc in Actuarial Sciences or in Mathematical Sciences requires an APS score of 42+, with English, Maths and Physical Science all above 80% (level 7).
Students with slightly lower APS scores may be wait-listed, depending on place availability.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ) uses the 1-7 APS score for students who passed the South African NSC or IEB examinations. Scores for your top 6 subjects are included (Life Orientation is excluded). There are scores up to 10 for those who have completed international A-levels. A very clear description of all scoring is given here.
Where applicants have attended a school where English was not an official language or medium of teaching, they may have to complete an English Proficiency Test.
Some special considerations are that Technical Mathematics is considered as equivalent to Mathematics. Technical Sciences will also be considered, but not for courses where Chemistry is required. NCV students will be accepted for some courses – the admission requirements are detailed in the Prospectus.
Maths Literacy will be considered for some extended degree programmes – eg BCom over 4 years instead of 3 years – or for Diploma courses. The APS scores are also lower for extended programmes – eg from 32 to 26 for Civil Engineering.
Physical Sciences is required for all Engineering and Science degrees.
As for other Universities, Unisa reminds students that meeting the admission requirements does not guarantee that you will be offered a space for the course you have chosen. The 1 – 7 scale is used to calculate APS.
There is a useful page on the Unisa website that helps you search for the qualifications that might interest you. Remember that Unisa offers Higher Certificates, Advanced Certificates, Diplomas, Advanced Diplomas and Bachelor Degrees. Obviously, the range of APS scores required will be very wide, so check the subjects you are interested in, and then look at all levels of courses available to find out where you would qualify.
Here’s an example from the School of Accounting Sciences:
When you register for provisional admission to Unisa, it is a good idea to register for the course you want and also one at a lower level, in case your final matric results are not as good as you had hoped.
As you can see, the APS for Unisa is lower than for the other Universities we have discussed. If your scores are quite low, you might benefit from the arrangement that Unisa has with several TVET colleges to offer classes in some courses. This has been found to significantly improve the pass rate of students. You can register via Unisa for these classes at a TVET near you.
You can see that Universities will not consider you for admission if you do not meet APS cut-offs.
Subject choice at school is also critical. English and Mathematics are required for most courses, so working hard to achieve high marks in these subjects will pay off. Physical or Natural Sciences are next in importance for any Science, Engineering or Health Sciences degrees.
Remember that these are just the initial screening tools used by Universities. Fill in your application forms carefully, write well-thought-out introductions of yourself, and be prepared to attend interviews and write admission tests.