What is Your APS Score?

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An Admission Point Score (APS) is a score calculated from your matric marks. It is used by Universities to determine whether you qualify for admission to their courses. Each University has its own way of determining this score, and there are different requirements for different courses. The bottom line is that you must meet the APS criteria of that University if you want to be considered for admission.

It is important to know that the APS does not guarantee admission to a university. It is a minimum requirement, to be considered with other criteria such as the correct choice of subjects and a Bachelor Pass for matric, and whether there is space on the course you have chosen. Some Universities also have an entry test such as the National Benchmark Test (NBT).

Remember that your APS score is just an initial screening tool for the university, so that they do not have to screen all the marks of the thousands of applications they get each year. If you have got past the initial mark, they will be looking at your application forms, letters and emails. So make sure you do these properly and give a good account of yourself.

How to calculate your APS score?

Each University has its own rules about calculating the APS 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.

Most Universities use a 1 – 7 rating. This matches the rating you will see on your matric certificate (eg a mark of 70% shows as Level 6).

The points are allocated like this:

Marks (%)APS score
80 – 1007
70 – 796
60 – 695
50 – 594
40 – 493
30 – 392
0 – 291

As an example, let’s assume that these are your matric results, and the way that points will be allocated:

Example of a Matric APS Score

  • Home language IziXhosa 62% = 5 points
  • English First additional language 55% = 4 points
  • Life Orientation 76% = –
  • Mathematics 42% = 3 points
  • Accounting 60% = 5 points
  • Business Studies 75% = 6 points
  • Economics 65% = 5 points

Total = 28 points

In this example, Life Orientation is not counted. Some Universities do count it, but perhaps give it half the points. Some Universities also give extra points for some subjects – for example, an extra 2 points to Mathematics or English.

In this example, without any extra points, your score is 28. You would have to check whether this total was high enough for the course and the University you have chosen. Remember that some courses also have subject specific requirements.

When you first apply, if you do not already have your final matric marks, you must submit your Grade 11 marks.

Special note: Exemption requirements for students who completed Cambridge International A-levels can be found here.

Which subjects count for APS?

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 you can take after school. Some courses will be counted for admission to a University of Technology, but not to other Universities.

Table : 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


Consumer Studies



Dramatic Arts



Economics


Engineering Graphics and Design


Geography


History


Information Technology


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


Life Sciences

Mathematics

Mathematical Literacy

Music

Physical Sciences

Religion studies

Visual Art
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

You will have more options for tertiary study and future careers if you select so-called “gateway subjects” such as mathematics, physical science, economics and accounting. They are important 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.

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

What’s the difference between APS and a Bachelor’s Pass?

These are the matric marks you need for a Bachelor’s 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’s Pass is another minimum requirement for admission to a University.

You must have at least a Bachelor’s Pass, and your APS points must be high enough, and you must have the right subjects, and there must be space for you in the course.

And remember, you are competing for space with other students whose marks and points may be way higher than yours.

What is the National Benchmarking Test (NBT)?

Some Universities require a pre-screening test, called the National Benchmarking Test (NBT). They consider the results along with all other information.

Sometimes the test is used to give an opportunity to students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not meet all the APS requirements. Check on the admission requirements for your course to find out if you need to do the test.

What is important is that Universities don’t set the tests. It is administered online by an independent organisation. Students must book, pay for and complete the test, and submit the results together with other university admission information.

Don’t wait for the University to ask for the results, as you may miss the dates that have been set up by NBT. Login to their website to find out what to do and to book a test – applications are open from 1 April.

How does APS work? Let’s use an example

Remember the example we gave earlier with matric results? Let’s use them to see what happens if you want to apply to Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).

  • Home language IziXhosa 62% = 5 points
  • English First additional language 55% = 4 points
  • Life Orientation 76% = –
  • Mathematics 42% = 3 points
  • Accounting 60% = 5 points
  • Business Studies 75% = 6 points
  • Economics 65% = 5 points

Total = 28 points

Where you qualify

  • You have a Bachelor’s Pass, as you have more than 4 subjects over 50%, including your home language.
  • The total APS of 28 is a fairly high score as most courses at TUT require a minimum of 20 – 24 points.

However,

  • You will not qualify for many of the available courses because of your subject choice and Mathematics mark.

For example, this was the result of the query about BEng Tech (Mechanical Engineering). You met the APS minimum of 28. However, you do not have Physical or Technical Sciences and your Maths mark is too low.

You would not qualify for a teaching degree either, even in the Economic and Management Sciences, which is where your subject choice is pointed. A BEd in this field needs

  • Good: An APS of 24
  • Good: Level 4 for English
  • Good: Level 4 for Accounting or Business Studies or Economics.
  • Fail: Level 4 for Mathematics

You have the required total APS score and the APS scores in the correct subjects, but your Maths mark is too low.

Hint: Take some time out to improve your Maths mark – it will significantly improve the options open to you. Alternatively, if you were to apply to the University of Pretoria (UP), you could qualify for an extended programme – eg, 4 years instead of 3 for a B Com degree with your choice of subjects and a Maths score of 3. You could also register for a Diploma at Unisa, and perhaps upgrade to a degree later.

You do meet the requirements for many of the diploma courses in Management Sciences and Agricultural Sciences at TUT. This is the result for a query about the Diploma in Credit Management:

What is a good APS score?

There really is no good APS score – unless you are talking about scores over 35. The question is whether your APS score is good enough. This depends on the University and the course you have selected.

And remember that APS is just the first step of the University screening process. So make sure that you put effort into everything else you submit for consideration by the University.

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