What Are The Matric Pass Requirements?

There is a lot of confusion around what you need to pass matric at the end of the year. Many people think that you only need 30% for all your subjects to pass. Unfortunately the requirements are not that simple.

To get a higher certificate pass for matric, you need to take at least 7 subjects and you need to pass your home language at a minimum of 40%. You also need to pass two other subjects at 40%, and three others at 30%.

Elijah Mhlanga, a spokesman for the Department of Basic Education explains that, “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?

Failing your final matric exam does not mean it’s the end of the road for you. There are still options you can explore in order to achieve your goals moving forward. These options may not all be easy, but investing in your future will be worth it.

Return to school

Going back to school and trying again can be a challenging thing to do. You will need to attend classes again, just as you did before, and will need to work harder in order to improve your results. It can also be a little embarrassing as you’ll be in a class with students who were previously a grade below you.

Even though it won’t be the easiest option, the biggest upside is that you get to take a fresh look at the work through the year. Learning it a second time may make it easier to understand and thus help improve your knowledge for your final exam. You have a chance to be better prepared the second time around.

Rewrite or upgrade your marks

If you failed your end of year exams for matric, you can apply to rewrite the matric exams in the following year. The exam rewrite will be held in May each year.

If you passed, but you were unable to achieve the marks needed to apply for college or university, you can still apply for an exam rewrite. You can combine your best results from the end of year exams and your exam rewrite for an Amended Senior Certificate.

Study an alternative to Matric

You can also consider studying something other than matric.  This is also called a matric equivalent.  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 accredited qualifications without matric:

Last Updated: 2 Jan, 2020

What we do

We help you get, or improve, your matric certificate. We understand the problems that students face once they have left school. 

This is where we come in to help you achieve your dream of the matric certificate you deserve.