What Are The Matric Pass Requirements?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Matric pass requirements at the end of each year. People often just say that you merely need 30% to be able to pass. Is this statement true? No, It is not! Unfortunately the requirements are not that simple.

As a matric student, you need to take at least 7 subjects and at the least, you need to pass your home language at a minimum of 40%, two other subjects at 40% as well, and three others at 30%, in order to obtain a higher certificate pass.

Thus, as Elijah Mhlanga, a spokesman for the Department of Basic Education explains, “If the learner does not satisfy the minimum subject requirements, he will not be awarded with the [National Senior Certificate], even though he may have attained an exceptionally high mark in one or two of the other subjects.”

Let us take a moment to review all these matric pass requirements.

Firstly, there are 3 pass levels:

1. Higher certificate
2. Diploma
3. Bachelors Degree (which was commonly known as an exemption).

Here are the pass requirements for each of these levels:

Higher certificate pass requirements

  • Must obtain 40% in your Home Language.
  • Must obtain at least 40% in two other subjects.
  • Must obtain at least 30% for three other subjects.

It is important to note that one of your languages must either be English or Afrikaans to qualify for a Higher Certificate.

Diploma pass requirements

  • Must obtain at least 40% for your Home Language.
  • Must obtain at least 40% for three other High Credit subjects (Four, including your home language.).
  • Must obtain at least 30% for two other subjects.

Bachelors Degree pass requirements

  • Must obtain at least 40% for your Home Language.
  • Must obtain at least 50% for four other High Credit subjects.
  • Must obtain at least 30% for two other subjects.

Level system

  • Level 7: 80 – 100% (Outstanding achievement)
  • Level 6: 70 – 79% (Meritorious achievement)
  • Level 5: 60 – 69% (Substantial achievement)
  • Level 4: 50 – 59% (Moderate achievement)
  • Level 3: 40 – 49% (Adequate achievement)
  • Level 2: 30 – 39% (Elementary achievement)
  • Level 1: 0 – 29% (Not achieved – Fail)

Which subjects are compulsory?

  • Home Language
  • First Additional Language
  • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
  • Life Orientation


What are High Credit subjects?

  • Languages
  • Accounting
  • Agricultural Science
  • Business Studies
  • Consumer Studies
  • Dramatic Arts
  • Economics
  • Engineering Graphics & Design
  • Geography
  • History
  • Information Technology
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematical Literacy
  • Music
  • Physical Sciences
  • Religion Studies
  • Visual Arts


Low Credit subjects:

  • Agricultural Management Practices
  • Agricultural Technology
  • Civil Technology
  • Computer Applications Technology
  • Dance Studies
  • Design Studies
  • Electrical Technology
  • Hospitality Studies
  • Mechanical Technology
  • Tourism

What can I do if I failed matric?

If you failed your matric finals there is plenty you can do to turn this around. It does not mean that you do not have a chance at a real career.

Return to school

One option is that you can redo the year at school. This means you go back to school for the following year, and then rewrite the exams at the end of the year.

This can feel quite painful as you need to attend classes daily just have you have your entire school career.  You also will be studying with students a year younger than yourself.  This can feel difficult and even a little embarrassing.

Rewrite or upgrade your marks

If you do not want to take a whole year you can apply to rewrite the matric exams in the following year.  This rewrite is in May each year.  You can now get help with this exam from Matric College!

You may have passed your exams, but you have not met the mark requirements for your chosen course of further studies.  In this case you apply to rewrite the exams just as when you fail the exam.

You can sign up with us and will supply you with all the materials and help you need, as well as find you a seat to write the exam.

Study an alternative to Matric

You can also consider studying something other than matric.  This is also called a matric equivelant.  Sometimes these studies can even take you past the level of matric, and all the way to Diploma level.

Here are three colleges where you can study qualifications without matric:

Last Updated: July 23, 2019