How To Get Your Matric Certificate?

The South African Schooling system

The South African schooling system is divided into two stages – the General Education and Training (GET) stage from Grade R to Grade 9 and the Further Education and Training (FET)  stage, from Grade 10 to 12.  

After Grade 9, some students continue the FET stage in the schools system to Grade 12. Others opt for a technical and vocational route through TVET colleges. 

Those who successfully complete the final year of schooling, Grade 12, will earn a National Senior Certificate (NSC), known also as a “Matric Certificate” or “School Leaving Certificate”. Students completing the Grade 12 year are often referred to as matriculants. The National Senior Certificate is at Level 4 on the National Qualifications Framework.

Those who complete a 3-year TVET programme will earn a National Certificate Vocational (NCV), also at level 4 on the NQF and also a “School Leaving Certificate” but not a “Matric Certificate”. The difference between the NSC and the NCV is that the NCV is directed at vocational study skills in a specific area of work, while the NSC or matric certificate gives learners more of a general education with a stronger focus on academics.

The main focus of this article is on the Grade 12 National Senior Certificate (NSC) or Matric Certificate. How to get a Matric Certificate? Keep reading and I will explain you exactly how.

How To Get Your Matric? Different Routes to Attaining a Matric Certificate

There are various avenues one can take to attain a matric certificate at NQF level 4:

  1. Complete the National Senior Certificate
    1. Through the Department of Basic Education (DBE)
    2. Through the Independent Examination Board (IEB)
    3. Through the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI)
  1. Complete the Amended Senior Certificate if you are 21 years and older.
  2. Complete a Technical Matric
    1. Through the N3 (National Technical Certificate) plus 2 Languages

The National Senior Certificate is issued after Grade 12. Learners attending public schools and some independent schools will complete the examinations set and administered by the Department of Basic Education. Many independent schools will cover the same DBE curriculum but their learners will complete the examinations set and administered by the Independent Examination Board (IEB). Yet others will complete their studies through home schooling or through accredited private colleges and academies – their examinations may be set and administered by SACAI.

The Senior Certificate was the official school-leaving certificate until it was replaced by the National Senior Certificate in 2008. It has been phased out in the schooling system, but adults over 21 can still complete an amended version of it. It is sometimes referred to as “Adult Matric”. It is the equivalent of the NSC, and the certificates look exactly the same. The main difference is that there is no school-based assessment (SBA) component – the examination counts 100%. 

A National Technical Certificate is  completed through a TVET College and can be also completed by correspondence or online. Subjects are technical (eg Mechanical Engineering, Boiler Making, Motor and Diesel), and are mainly for those wanting to pursue a career in Engineering. To convert from an N3 to an N4, and the equivalent of NSC, learners must also complete Business English and Business Afrikaans (Sake Afrikaans).

Official Institutions Associated With Matric Certificates

The Department of Basic Education (DBE)

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is responsible for the schooling system up to Grade 12. It decides on education policy, the curriculum to be covered and administers the national matric examinations.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

The Department of Higher Education and Training oversees universities and other post-school education, including the TVET colleges.  It administers the examinations for the National Certificate Vocational (NCV).

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is responsible for the National Qualifications Framework – the NQF. The NQF is a national guideline to integrate education and training and to allocate a value of one qualification against another. All education and training in South Africa fits within this framework. It ensures that the same standards are applied by training and education providers throughout the country. There are ten levels on the framework, divided into three bands:

  • Levels 1 to 4 equate to high school grades 9 to 12 or vocational training
  • Levels 5 to 6 are higher certificates and national diplomas, generally for technical qualifications
  • Levels 7 to 10 are advanced diplomas and university degrees

Umalusi

Umalusi is responsible for accrediting service providers for education. If you want to study at any institution outside of public schools, make sure that it has been accredited by Umalusi – https://www.umalusi-online.org.za/enquiries.

Umalusi is also responsible for the quality assurance of assessment for Grade 12. It ensures the correct standards are applied in the setting of examination questions, administration of the examinations and in marking and evaluation of both external and school-based assessment.  

Umalusi issues both the National Senior Certificate and the National Certificate Vocational to successful candidates. It retains the academic records of all candidates from November 1992 and will verify the correctness of certificates (for example to a potential employer who wants to check that a candidate actually has a matric qualification). Records from before 1992 are kept by the Department of Basic Education.

Umalusi also re-issues certificates that have been lost, but you cannot apply directly to Umalusi. You will have to apply through a Provincial Education Department to get a replacement certificate.

The Independent Examination Board (IEB)

The Independent Examination Board (IEB) is a private assessment board, accredited by Umalusi to set and assess matric examinations. Many independent schools choose the IEB system which gives focus to developing critical thinking skills in learners. IEB is said to  encourage the “how” and “why” rather than just the “what” of the content of the curriculum.

The South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI)

SACAI, established in 2012, is a non-profit company, accredited by  Umalusi. It provides National Senior Certificate (NSC) assessment services to independent schools and also to distance learning institutions and for home schooling.

How To Choose Your Matric Subjects?

Everyone has to complete seven subjects for matric. Four of these are compulsory:

  • A home language
  • A first additional language
  • Mathematics or Mathematics Literacy
  • Life Orientation.

At least three others can be chosen from a list of 25 optional subjects. 

The choice is important as it may define the route that the learner will be able to take after school. This is especially important for admission for higher education. 

Table 1: Matric subject choices for later admission to University or University of Technology

Entry to University Achievement rating of 4 or better in at least 4 of the designated subjectsEntry to University of Technology Achievement rating of 3 or better in at least 4 of the designated subjects
Accounting
Agricultural Sciences
Business Studies
Dramatic Arts
Economics
Engineering
Graphics and Design Geography
History
Consumer Studies
InformationTechnology

Languages (refer to institution websites for their language entry requirements) 

Life Sciences
Mathematics
Mathematical Literacy
Music
Physical Sciences
Religion studies 
Visual Arts

Accounting
Agricultural Management Practices Agricultural Sciences
Agricultural technology
Business Studies
Civil Technology
Computer Applications Technology Consumer Studies
Dance Studies
Dramatic Arts
Economics
Electrical Technology
Engineering Graphics and Design Geography
History
Hospitality Studies
Information Technology
Languages (refer to institution websites for their language requirements)
Life Sciences
Mechanical Technology
Mathematics
Mathematical Literacy
Music
Physical Sciences
Religion Studies
Tourism  Visual Arts

Selecting so-called “gateway subjects” such as mathematics, physical science, economics  and accounting allows for more tertiary study and career options, especially for careers related to engineering, health sciences, science and commerce. 

A key decision is whether to take pure mathematics or maths literacy. Most degrees in science, engineering or the health sciences require pure maths. However, maths literacy is adequate for studies in Humanities (BA courses), some law and commerce degrees, and most education degrees.

How To Pass Your Matric? What Grades Do You Need?

Minimum pass marks for Matric

The final promotion mark in all of the subjects offered for the NSC or Matric Certificate is a combination of a national public examination and a School-based Assessment (SBA). 

The SBA constitutes a minimum of 25% of the final mark, and is even higher for certain subjects, especially those with a practical component, and up to 80% of the final mark for Life Orientation.

The results will show both the percentage achieved for each subject as well as the relevant level, as follows:

  • 80-100%: Level 7
  • 70-79%: Level 6
  • 60-69%: Level 5
  • 50-59%: Level 4
  • 40-49%: Level 3
  • 30-39%: Level 2
  • 0-29%: Level 1

There are three types of matric certificate passes:

Higher Certificate pass

The minimum requirements to receive a matric certificate (also called  Higher Certificate pass) are:

  • 40% or higher for your home language subject.
  • 40% or higher for two other subjects not including your home language subject
  • 30% in three other subjects
  • Full evidence in the SBA component in the subjects offered

This means that you can fail (at Level 1) only one subject of the seven taken. 

A Higher Certificate pass gives you access to certificate courses at TVET Colleges, trade schools like beauty schools, chef schools nursing or IT colleges, and in-house training in various industries. It is also the minimum educational requirement for many jobs.

Diploma pass

  • 40% or higher for your home language subject.
  • 40% or higher for three other subjects not including your home language subject.
  • 30% or higher for your remaining 3 subjects.

A Diploma pass allows you access to post-school National Diploma courses at Universities of Technology, TVET Colleges and institutes for Distance Learning.

Bachelor pass

  • 40% or higher in your home language subject.
  • 50% or higher for at least 4 of your subjects, (This can include your home language subject)
  • 30% or higher for your remaining 3 subjects.

A Bachelor pass is a minimum requirement for degree studies at a university.

Admission Point Scores (APS) for University studies

To be considered for admission to a specific course at a university, is necessary to achieve a Bachelor pass, have the correct choice of subjects and achieve the Admission Point Score (APS) for that course. Many universities also require an entry test such as the National Benchmark Test.

Each University calculates the APS in its own way but, generally, the percentage marks for your top 7 subjects or your top 6 subjects (excluding Life Orientation) are converted into points and added together to give one score.  A minimum cut-off is required for each course of study. When you first apply, if you do not already have your final NSC marks, you must submit your Grade 11 marks. 

It should be noted that the results for the IEB Advanced Programmes in Mathematics and Languages are not considered for APS purposes.

This is an example for Wits University: 

  • Points are allocated for each subject based on the percentage achieved – eg 6 points for a mark between 70 and 79%.
  • Maths and English each receive an additional 2 points for marks above 60% – so 70 – 79% would be given 6+2 = 8 points, but a mark of 50% would receive only 4 points.
  • Life Orientation counts less than other subjects – eg, only 2 points allocated for a 70 – 79% pass mark.

Table 2: APS calculation for Wits University – example

NSC Scale of achievementNSC %WITS APSWITS APS %WITS APS for Maths and EnglishWITS APS for Life OrientationWITS APS for other subjects


890 – 1008+2 = 1048
780 – 99780 – 997+2 = 937
670 – 79670 – 796+2 = 826
560 – 69560 – 695 + 2 = 715
450 – 59450 – 59404
340 – 49340 – 49303
230 – 39030 – 39000
1 0 – 290 0 – 29000

The total must reach a minimum cut-off, depending on the course. So, for example,  a BCom (Accounting) requires 39+ points, a BCom (Accounting Science) requires 42+ and a BCom (Law) requires 43+. 

The APS is an initial screening tool for universities and achieving the minimum cut-off is not a guarantee of acceptance to a university. 

Matric for Adults

What is adult matric?

Adult Matric is for anyone above the age of 21 who for some reason did not pass matric or did not reach that level of schooling. Generally, candidates will complete the examinations for the Amended Senior Certificate. Registrations are open between October and January and examinations are written in June. Candidates can register at any education district office or online at www.eservices.gov.za

Age

Candidates must be above the age of 21 as at the date of writing the examinations. This means that younger candidates can register and commence their studies, but will not be allowed to write the examinations until they turn 21.

Eligibility

The following candidates are eligible for adult matric:

  • Adult learners who are 21 years and older who have
    • A school report, showing that they have passed Grade 9 / Std. 7
    • A General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET)
    • Completed a recognised qualification at NQF level 1, which included two official languages, or
    • Completed Grade 10/Grade 11
  • Adult learners who are 21 years and older with an incomplete Senior Certificate qualification.
  • Adult learners who are 21 years and older with an incomplete National Senior Certificate
    • These candidates may choose to complete the NSC, or convert to the Senior Certificate.  Should the candidate choose to convert to the Senior Certificate, they may not revert to the NSC and attempt to complete the NSC qualification.
    • Candidates who are repeating all or part of the National Senior Certificate can do so only after the expiry date of their School-based Assessment (the SBA expires after 3 years).
  • Out of school youth, who are 18-21 years old and who could not complete their school education due to circumstances beyond their control. This is only for exceptional cases as verified through an official letter of approval by the Head of Department in the Provincial Education Department.
  • Adult candidates who have already obtained a qualification but wish to improve their results/status.

Certified copies of documents proving minimum qualifications must be provided. This includes the Statements of Results for  any previous attempts at Grade 12.

Duration

Minimum 1 year. Most Colleges provide a 3-year programme, covering Grades 10 to 12. 

For further information

See https://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/SeniorCertificate.aspx

How to Replace Your Matric Certificate or have it re-issued

All matric certificates since 1992 have been issued and certified by Umalusi. All replacement certificates since that date are also issued by Umalusi. Requests must be made via the DBE / Provincial Education offices or via IEB or SACAI and not directly to Umalusi.

The main reasons for replacements include:

  • Administrative errors – incorrect marks, subjects, personal details as a result of errors made by the school or the Education Department. All candidates have 12 months from the date of issue of the matric certificate to have changes made.
  • Change of status. This might be if you have completed subjects at different times (eg if you have rewritten some subjects) and want to combine the final results into one certificate. There might also be a change of status where a person’s sex-description has changed.
  • Lost or damaged certificates

You will have to fill in the correct application form, attach the documents listed on that form and pay the required fee. You can take all the documents plus proof of payment to the nearest DBE or PED (Provincial Education Department) office. It doesn’t have to be an office in the same region as where you completed your studies. Alternatively you can  post them to Private Bag X895, Pretoria, 0001.

If you completed a matric through the IEB or SACAI systems, then applications should be directed through their offices and not via the DBE or PED offices.

It will take between 4 and 6 weeks to receive the replacement certificate. You can ask for a Statement of Results as an interim record immediately.

Download the application forms here:

Reissue: Change of particulars
Replacement: Change of status
Replacement: Lost or damaged

Fees valid from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021:

  • Re-issue certificate: R130
  • Replacement certificate: R130.00
  • Statement of results: R50

You can pay with a postal order or cash at the DBE/PED office or online at www.eservices.gov.za

Contact details for provincial and national departments are as follows:

EASTERN CAPE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Exam Centre
30 Durban Street
King Williams’s Town 5600
Tel: 043 604 7724
Thobeka.Dumbisa@edu.ecprov.gov.za
FREE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
55 Elizabeth Street, 1st Floor
Fidel Castro Building,
Bloemfontein
Tel: 051 404 8252
M.Monnaruri@fseducation.gov.za
GAUTENG EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
111 Commissioner Street
Johannesburg
Tel: 011 355 0611
Nomthandazo.Malinga@gauteng.gov.za
KWAZULU-NATAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
72 Stanger Street
Margate Building
Durban
Tel: 031 327 0312
Bongani.Chiliza@kzndoe.gov.za
MPUMALANGA EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Beta Building
SADC Street
Middelburg
Tel: 013 766 0051
m.viljoen@education.mpu.gov.za
NORTHERN CAPE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Buckley road
Ex-Perseverance college
Kimberley
Tel: 053 839 6503
nicolettefredericks@ncdoe.gov.za
LIMPOPO EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Cnr 113 Biccard & 24 Excelsior Streets
Polokwane
Tel: 015 290 7740
ThomasE@edu.limpopo.gov.za
NORTHWEST EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
90 Van Der Hoff
Potchefstroom
Tel : 018 388 0827
Bkeetile@nwpg.gov.za
WESTERN CAPE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Grand Central Towers
Lower Parliament Street
Cape Town
Tel: 021 467 2936
Desmond.Botes@westerncape.gov.za
DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION
222 Struben Street
Sol Plaatjie building
Pretoria Central
Tel: 012 357 3255
Nene.T@dbe.gov.za
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION
222 Struben Street
Sol Plaatjie building
Pretoria Central
Tel: 012 357 3255
Visser.M@dbe.gov.za
SACAI
278 Serene Street
Garsfontein
0042
Tel: 012 348 5650
karendw@sacai.org.za
IEB
Johannesburg
Tel: 011 483 9736
dladlas@ieb.co.za
ERCO
Certification@umalusi.org.za

For more information

For more information see our article “How To Check your Matric Results Online And What To Do If You Failed Your Matric”

Frequently asked questions

How can learners get advice on subject choices and career options?

The National Career Advice Portal, known as Khetha, is an online self-help tool to facilitate informed career and study choices. It provides career information, guidance and advice by telephone and also responds to queries received by telephone, SMS, ‘Please Call Me’, E-mail, Facebook and Twitter.

Call them on: 086 999 0123

SMS or send them a PLEASE CALL ME (they will call you back) on: 072 204 5056

Email them on: careerhelp@dhet.gov.za

Tweet them on: http://twitter.com/rsacareerhelp

Talk to them on: www.facebook.com/careerhelp

Making decisions about your career does not have to be difficult. You should know what you enjoy doing and what careers appeal to you. Try a Career Quizif you need some clarity.

What is a matric certificate?

A matric certificate is either a National Senior Certificate or an Amended Senior Certificate. Both are at level 4 on the NQF. Matric certificates are issued by Umalusi.

What is a Statement of Results?

A Statement of Results document is issued when the results are released by DBE, IEB or SACAI. While this document reflects the candidate’s results, it is not a certificate. It is a temporary document to be used for employment and/or further studies, until it is replaced by the official Umalusi matric certificate which is usually issued by July of the year following your final examinations.

When will the matric results be available?

Usually matric results are available during the first week of January. Because of the COVID 19 disruptions during 2020, the 2020 examinations were completed only on 15 December, the marking of papers will happen between 4 and 22 January 2021, and results will be available on 23 February 2021.

Can I do matric in 3 months or 6 months?

This depends on your pace and study needs. 

For example, if you are doing a Technical Matric (N3 plus 2 languages), the usual time is 8 – 12 months. The actual contact time needed to complete the N3 section is 6 months. There is a trimester system and national examinations are written 3 times per year, in April, August and November. So, you could complete the course in 6 months.

Similarly, if you are studying online or by correspondence, you can complete the course at your own pace. The thing to note is the date by which you have to register to write the official examinations – this is usually 8 to 9 months before the date of the examinations. Colleges may also have their own rules for the period of time they expect you to be registered. 

Where can I do my matric?

Most students complete their matric at public or private/independent high schools. Those who have not completed via school will have to register with some kind of formal learning institution, and can study part-time or full-time, via distance learning (correspondence or online) or with contact sessions. 

Some of the better-known institutions in South Africa that will allow you to repeat or upgrade your matric marks include Damelin, Matric College, Intec, Oxbridge Academy, Taal-Net Training Institute, College of Cape Town, Abbotts College, Brainline, ICESA.

What can I do if I fail matric?

Many jobs require skills and experience rather than qualifications. You can complete an introductory course to help you find employment in the field of work you want. You can also repeat your Grade 12 year or upgrade some or all of your subjects. 

For more information see our article “How To Check your Matric Results Online And What To Do If You Failed Your Matric”

Can I study at Unisa without a matric?

No, you require a matric certificate to be considered for degree studies at any university in South Africa, including Unisa. 

Can I upgrade matric results at Damelin?

Damelin is one of the better-known education institutions where you can upgrade your matric results.

You can register to study and rewrite some or all of your subjects, provided you have completed SBA (School Based Assessment) component for all the subjects and you can provide the official Grade 12 Statement of results confirming the subjects you have previously written. 

Duration: 1 year minimum