National Senior Certificate

National Senior Certificate

A National Senior Certificate (NSC) is a South African qualification awarded to learners who pass Grade 12 in High School, which is also known as Matric. It takes 3 to 5 years to complete a National Senior Certificate. High School consists of Grade 8, 9, 10,11 and 12 and you have to pass these grades to be awarded a National Senior Certificate. 

What Is The NSC Exam?

The National Senior Certificate exam is a South African examination written every year by Grade 12 learners. The exam is important to learners as it gives them access to universities and colleges as well as bursaries, learnerships and entry-level work.

Who Qualifies To Write The National Senior Certificate Exam? 

The following groups qualify to write the National Senior Certificate exam: 

  • Learners currently in Grade 12 
  • Learners who have a complete School-Based Assessment (SBA)

When Is The NSC Exam Written?

The National Senior Certificate exam is written every year from October to December. Specific dates for the exam are published on the Department of Basic Education website and your school will provide you with an exam timetable when the exam is near. 

How Are National Senior Certificate Final Marks Calculated?

National Senior Certificate results consist of 25% internal school-based assessments (SBA) and 75% from examinations. The 25% SBA includes class activities such as: 

  • Tests
  • Oral presentations
  • Assignments
  • Trail examinations (Preliminary / Preparatory exams)
  • June examinations 

Are National Senior Certificate Trial Exams Important?

Trial exams (exams set before the final examinations) are important because they add up to your School-Based Assessments (SBA) mark. Trial exams usually make up about 7% of your SBA. This is dependent on what the percentages for the other assessments are. Make sure that you study hard for every assessment and aim to get the highest SBA mark possible. 

These exams are also important because once you have written them, you can see how prepared you are for the final examination. Not only do you see how the exam papers are set up, but you also have a better indication of which subjects you need to work harder on.

National Senior Certificate Pass Levels?

There are four pass levels for a National Senior Certificate: Some students are not aware that there are four pass levels and nor three pass levels. Students also assume that if they get 30% across all their subjects, they will pass their matric. This is not the case. If a student does not meet the minimum pass requirements on the subjects written, they can be disappointed when they get their results.

Watch Jan Badenhorst, Our Principal Discuss The Different Pass Levels

Here are the different pass levels you can achieve after you have completed your matric:

  • Bachelor’s Degree Pass 
  • Diploma Pass 
  • Higher Certificate Pass 
  • National Senior Certificate Pass 

Bachelor’s Degree Pass Level 

  • A minimum of 40% in your home language 
  • A minimum of 50% in four subjects 
  • A minimum of 30% in 2 other subjects 

Diploma Pass Level 

  • A minimum of 40% in your home language 
  • A minimum of 40% in four subjects 
  • A minimum of 30% in 2 other subjects 

Higher Certificate Pass Level 

  • A minimum of 40% in your home language 
  • A minimum of  40% in two subjects 
  • A minimum of 30% in 3 other subjects 

National Senior Certificate Pass Level 

  • A minimum of 40% in your home language 
  • A minimum of 40% in two other subjects 
  • A minimum of 20% in other subjects 

Note: Keep in mind that each tertiary institution has its requirements. If you want to study at university, you will have to research the university and course you want to study. 

You might gain entry into a university BUT this does not mean that you meet the requirements for a particular course.

E.g. You gain entry into a university because you received a Bachelor’s pass but you do not qualify for the Engineering course because you have received 50% for Mathematics.

How Do I Calculate My APS Score?

Here is how you can calculate your APS score for your National Senior Certificate 

APS PercentageType of Achievement APS Points
80-100% (Distinction)Outstanding Achievement 7 points 
70-79%Meritorious Achievement 6 points
60-69%Substantial Achievement 5 points 
50-59%Adequate Achievement 4 points 
40-49%Moderate Achievement 3 points 
30-39%Elementary Achievement 2 points 
0-29%Not achieved Achievement 1 point    
  • English First Language – 56% = 4 points 
  • Tshivenda Home Language – 60% = 5 points 
  • Life Orientation – 79% =  (we do not count L.O when we calculate APS)
  • Mathematics – 45% = 3 points 
  • Economics – 66% = 5 points 
  • Business Studies – 81% = 7 points (Distinction)
  • Accounting – 36% = 2 points

TOTAL APS SCORE = 26 POINTS 

Watch Our Principal Discuss How To Calculate Your APS Score

Is 75% A Distinction In National Senior Certificate?

No, when you receive 75% for a subject in your National Senior Certificate, it is not considered a distinction. A 75% pass in a subject is a distinction in college and university but NOT for your National Senior Certificate or Senior Certificate (Amended). 

The distinction percentage for a subject completed in your National Senior Certificate in South Africa is 80% and above. If you obtain distinctions in your subjects, you have a better chance of being accepted into university. However, a distinction does not automatically give you entrance into a university. You still have to meet each institution’s requirements as well as the requirements of the course you wish to study.

Make sure that you research the university you want to enrol at, and the degree/diploma you are interested in and work towards meeting those requirements. 

Who Can Rewrite The National Senior Certificate?

If you are under 21 years old, you can rewrite your National Senior Certificate through the Department of Basic Education. Students who recently wrote their National Senior Certificate exams and are not satisfied with their results can apply for the Second Chance Programme. They can do so whether they passed or failed their exams. The programme is there to help students improve their matric marks. The Second Chance Programme is also known as the Second National Programme, Supplementary Exams or Matric Rewrite. 

You may qualify to write the Second Chance Programme if: 

  • You are 21 and younger
  • You wrote the exam last November 
  • Could not write with valid reasons such as illness, death in the family, or other special reasons  
  • You failed a subject
  • Have proof of university admission and need to improve a subject to gain entry 
  • Want to improve NSC exam results

These exams take place every year in May/June. Applications can be made in High Schools, Provincial and District offices.

Documents you need to apply for Matric Rewrite/Supplementary Exam/Second Chance Programme: 

  • A completed form (Form is available at the place where you apply) 
  • Certified ID copy OR (Birth certificate/Passport) 
  • Results from the last exam 

Once your improved results are out, the department will automatically issue you with a certificate that has your best results. If you rewrite your National Senior Certificate and your second results are not better than the first ones, they will combine your results and give you the best marks.

If you do not want to rewrite your National Senior Certificate, here are other options you can consider: 

  • Remark 
  • Recheck 
  • View your exam paper

Remark 

Your exam paper goes to an examiner that is different from the one who marked it last time. This is to make sure someone else can correct possible errors missed by the last examiner if there are any. These can include a question not marked and marked incorrectly. To get your exam paper remarked costs R120.00. 

Recheck 

Your exam paper is thoroughly checked to make sure that all questions have been marked and marks are allocated correctly. To get an exam paper rechecked costs R29.00. 

View Your Exam Paper

You can only view your exam paper after it has been rechecked or remarked. The cost for each subject to be viewed is R234.00

Application for remark, recheck and viewing of scripts can be made online through the DBE website.

Can I Combine NSC With Other Certificates?

Yes, you can combine the National Senior Certificate with other certificates. Here are examples to show you how you can combine the certificates: 

Example 1: Combining National Senior Certificate With National Senior Certificate 

You are 18 years old. You wrote your National Senior Certificate last year and did not pass. You apply for a matric rewrite/second chance programme/supplementary exam/second national programme/ with your National Senior Certificate. You write the National Senior Certificate rewrite exam and obtain a Diploma pass. 

What Happens When You Get A New Certificate? 

Now that you have two National Senior Certificate results and you are under 21 years old, the Department of Basic Education will automatically combine both your results and give you the best marks. 

Example 1: Combining A National Senior Certificate With A Senior Certificate (Amended) 

You are 24 years old. You passed your National Senior Certificate 7 years ago with a Bachelor’s Degree. You want to apply for an engineering course at university and one of the entry requirements is 60% in Mathematics. In your National Senior Certificate, you do not have Mathematics as a subject, you only have Mathematical Literacy with a 55% mark. 

You can apply to Matric College for the Matric Upgrade course where you can choose a new set of subjects or choose the same ones you have. In this case, you choose a new set of subjects and include Mathematics in your subjects. You study for the Upgrade Matric course and pass with a Bachelor’s Degree pass and get 70% for Mathematics. You get awarded a Senior Certificate (Amended). 

What Happens When You Get A New Certificate? 

You can use the new certificate (Senior Certificate (Amended)) to apply for your engineering course at university. You still have your National Senior Certificate and it is still valid, it does not expire simply because you have a new certificate. This means that you can still use your National Senior Certificate to apply to places where you see fit. 

Example 2: Combining A National Senior Certificate With A Senior Certificate (Amended) 

In the case that you have a National Senior Certificate. You are 26 years old, passed your National Senior Certificate 9 years ago with a Diploma and want to upgrade your marks. You apply for the Matric upgrade course at Matric College and choose the same subjects you have in your National Senior Certificate. You study and pass the Upgrade Matric course with a Bachelor’s Degree pass. You get awarded a Senior Certificate (Amended)

What Happens When You Get A New Certificate?  

Your old National Senior Certificate does not expire simply because you have a new one with the same subjects. You can choose to combine your old and new certificates because they have the same subjects. This makes it easy for you when you apply. You have one instead of two certificates. However, you do not have to combine your certificates. You can use both the National Senior Certificate and Senior Certificate (Amended) separately or together even if they are not combined. 

Combination Of Certificates 

You can apply to combine certificates online through the Department of Basic Education website Here is a list of documents you need when you apply for a combination of results: 

  • Both results or certificates from exam settings 
  • Certified copy of ID book 
  • Proof of payment (Fee is R141.00)

Can I Get My National Senior Certificate Online?

Yes, you can get a National Senior Certificate online, but this does not mean that you can do the course online. This only applies to people who have already completed their National Senior Certificate. You can apply online through the Department of Basic Education website. To use their e-Re-issue online service you must register first as a user on the e-Government Portal. The following documents will be needed when you apply online: 

Lost Or Damaged Certificates 

Documents you need to apply for lost or damaged certificates: 

  • An affidavit explaining what happened to the last National Senior Certificate
  • Original Certificate (not applicable if you lost it) 
  • Certified copy of ID book 
  • Proof of payment (Fee is R141.00

Update Certificate

To update your National Senior Certificate you can apply at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) offices. You can only apply to make changes to your certificate if it is not more than 12 months from the day it was issued. You have to visit their offices to explain to the officials the status of your certificate. A re-issue will be granted if there is enough proof that the error was made by the department or school. This is whether it is a subject mark, personal details or subject choice. If the application is granted, you may be issued with a statement of results while you wait for the certificate to be updated. 

Documents you need to apply for National Senior Certificate Update: 

  • Your original ID book 
  • Certified copies of your ID book 
  • A fee of R141.00 
  • The National Senior Certificate 
  • An affidavit stating what has to be altered 
  • Application form (available at the DBE) 

The above fees are available only from 01 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. 

Can I Do The National Senior Certificate Online?

No, you cannot do a National Senior Certificate online. However, if you want to study for a qualification that is on the same NQF Level as a National Senior Certificate, you can do it through distance learning. You can apply for Matric Equivalent Courses at Matric College. These courses are not National Senior Certificate, they are simply on the same NQF Level as a National Senior Certificate. With Matric Equivalent Courses offered at Matric College, you can apply at university the same way you would with a National Senior Certificate. Keep in mind that your acceptance into a university depends on whether you meet the requirements.  

Here is a list of Matric Equivalent Courses You can study through distance learning at Matric College: 

Small Business Financial Management (SAQA ID: 48736)

  • Must have a Grade 11 to study 
  • Be able to read and write English
  • The course is studied through distance learning 

ICB Junior Bookkeeping (SAQA ID: 58375)

  • Must have a Grade 10 to study 
  • Be able to read and write English
  • The course is studied through distance learning

What Are The Benefits Of Distance Learning?

Studying through distance learning means that there are no contact classes to attend. Students and tutors/lecturers communicate online through mediums such as Emails, Calls, Zoom and WhatsApp. Distance learning through Matric College also means you can study from anywhere you want including home. Here is a list of why studying through distance learning is beneficial: 

  • Save Money 
  • Accommodating 
  • Improve Skills Fast 
  • Grow Connection 

Save Money

Since there are no contact classes to attend in distance learning, you will not have to spend money on transport, food, and other academic expenses related to attending contact classes. This way, you will save money.

Accommodating 

Distance learning makes studying easy for everyone. It accommodates anyone who wants to study including the following groups:

  • Parents 
    • As a parent who is busy working and taking care of the kids, it is not always easy to find time to advance yourself academically. However, with distance learning, you can study the qualifications you want whenever you want. There is no fixed time at which you study. You can set your study schedule for times that suit you best. 
  • International Students 
    •  If you are a student from another country, you can apply to study through distance learning at Matric College. You will only have to come to South Africa if there are exams that have to be written for the course you choose. Besides exams, you study from wherever you are. 
  • Employees 
    • If you are working and wish to study a course that will add to your qualifications, consider distance learning. There are a variety of courses you can choose from at Matric College, including courses as short as 2 to 6 months which are skills-based. This is a great way to advance yourself and increase your chances of getting a promotion. 

Improve Skills Fast 

You can learn a set of practical skills. At Matric College we offer a variety of qualifications you can choose from. We have skills-based courses that will advance your skills and help you stand out from other candidates.

Grow Connection 

As a student learning with people both local and international, you will be exposed to networking. This means you will make friends or get used to different people of unique cultures, skills and contacts. You may find mates who turn out to be colleagues or business partners. 

National Senior Certificate (Results) 

To receive your National Senior Certificate results from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), here are the steps you need to follow:

  • Go to the DBE website 
  • Register with your personal details
  • Click on 2021 NSC results 
  • Enter your exam number 
  • Your results should appear here

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Do The National Senior Certificate In 3 Months?

No, you cannot do a National Senior Certificate in 3 months. You must complete Grade 12 for a full year and pass the exams to get a National Senior Certificate. The only time you can do a National Senior Certificate in 3 months is if you already have the National Senior Certificate and you want to apply for a rewrite. 

For example, if you receive your National Senior Certificate results in January you can apply to rewrite your exam in the same month which will then be written in May/June. This means that you can complete your National Senior Certificate in 3-4 months.

Is The National Senior Certificate (NSC) Accredited?

Yes, the National Senior Certificate is accredited by Umalusi. The NSC is also registered on the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF) as NQF level 4. If you want to further your studies at university with a National Senior Certificate you can. Keep in mind that your acceptance will depend on whether you meet the requirements of the university. 

What Is Umalusi?

Umalusi is a professional accreditation body. Umalusi is part of three quality councils in South Africa. Two more quality councils include the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). Umalusi currently accredits Matric qualifications, Vocational qualifications as well as Adult and Training qualifications.

Matric Qualifications Vocational Qualifications Adult and Training Qualifications
The Senior Certificate (Amended) SC(A) National Certificate Vocational (NCV)(GETC: ABET) The General Education and Training Certificate for Adults NQF Level 1
The National Senior Certificate (NSC) The National Technical N3 Certificate (GETCA) General Education and Training Certificate for Adults NQF Level 1
Both Matriculation qualifications are NQF Level 4Both Vocational qualifications are NQF Level 4(NASCA) National Senior Certificate For Adults NQF Level 4

What Is The Difference Between National Certificate Vocational (NCV) And National Senior Certificate (NSC)? 

A National Senior Certificate is a qualification you get when you finish high school. This is after you have passed Grade 8 – 12. A National Certificate Vocational is a qualification you get when you complete your NCV Level 2 to 4 in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college. Level 2 is equivalent to Grade 10, Level 3 to Grade 11, and Level 3 to Grade 12. 

NSC and NCV are NQF Level 4 qualifications. The differences are mentioned below in the table: 

National Senior Certificate (NSC)National Certificate Vocational (NCV)
Available in High School Available in TVET colleges 
Focuses on academic knowledge Focuses on specific practical skills 
The entry requirement is a Grade 11 certificate The entry requirement is a Grade 9 certificate 
You can gain access to university You can gain access to university 
Equivalent to NQF Level 4 if you have completed Grades 8, 9, 10 11 and 12Equivalent to NQF Level 4 if you study NCV Level 2, 3 and  4
You can apply for a job with this qualification You can apply for a job with this qualification
Accredited qualification Accredited qualification 

What Is The Difference Between The National Senior Certificate (NSC) And Senior Certificate Amended (SC)?

A National Senior Certificate (NSC) is awarded to learners who have passed their exams and finished Grade 12. A Senior Certificate (Amended) is awarded to adults who have finished their adult matric course. The certificates are the same, the only difference is when and how you get them. Here is a table that explains the differences between the National Senior Certificate and Senior Certificate Amended:

National Senior Certificate Senior Certificate Amended
National Senior Certificate is Available in High School Senior Certificate Amended is Available through distance learning/Department of Basic Education 
Focuses on academic knowledge Focuses on academic knowledge 
Need Grade 11 to study Need Grade 9 to study 
Must be below 21 to study Must be 21 or older to study 
Can rewrite before you turn 21 Can rewrite as many times as you want 
Access to university Access to university 
Accredited qualification Accredited qualification 
Must choose 7 subjects to study Must choose 6 subjects to study 
NQF Level 4 NQF Level 4 
Entry-level job-friendly Entry-level job-friendly

Author: Mulisa Nethononda

Date Published: 30 November 2021