Understanding the New Matric Pass Requirements in South Africa

The Department of Basic Education in South Africa has recently updated the matric pass requirements, providing students with a more flexible framework for obtaining their National Senior Certificate (NSC).

This change allows learners to fail one subject under certain conditions while meeting other specific criteria.

This article will delve into the new requirements, the grading system, and how these adjustments could influence students’ future educational paths.

Let’s dive right in.

Introduction to the New Matric Pass Requirements

In a significant move, the South African Department of Basic Education has revised the criteria for obtaining a matric certificate, officially known as the National Senior Certificate (NSC).

These amendments are designed to provide students with a better opportunity to succeed by adjusting the passing standards and requirements for graduation.

Here’s a breakdown of what these changes entail and how they affect the three pass levels: Higher Certificate, Diploma, and Bachelor’s Degree.

Higher Certificate Pass Requirements

To achieve a Higher Certificate pass, students must now adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Home Language: At least 40%.
  • Two Other Subjects: At least 40% each.
  • Four Other Subjects: At least 30% each.
  • Overall Pass: Must pass at least 6 out of 7 subjects.

This level of pass allows graduates to pursue further studies at TVET colleges or undertake basic certificate courses.

Diploma Pass Requirements

For students aiming for a Diploma pass, the requirements are slightly more stringent:

  • Home Language: At least 40%.
  • Three Other Subjects (excluding Life Orientation): At least 40% each.
  • Language of Learning and Teaching (LOLT) at the Tertiary Institution: At least 30%.
  • Overall Pass: Must pass at least 6 out of 7 subjects.

This qualification is suitable for those looking to enroll in diploma programs at Universities of Technology or TVET colleges.

Bachelor’s Degree Pass Requirements

Achieving a Bachelor’s Degree pass is aimed at students who plan to enter university. The requirements are:

  • Home Language: At least 40% (compulsory).
  • Four Other Subjects (excluding Life Orientation): At least 50% each.
  • LOLT at the Tertiary Institution: At least 30%.
  • One Other Subject: At least 30%.
  • Overall Pass: Must pass at least 6 out of 7 subjects.

This pass level is crucial for those intending to pursue undergraduate degrees at universities, including the University of Technology, TVET colleges, or other accredited higher education institutions.

Understanding the Grade Level System

South Africa’s matric grading system categorizes academic performance from Level 1 to Level 7, with Level 7 being the highest achievement. Here’s what each level signifies:

  • 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)

Compulsory Subjects

The following subjects are mandatory for all matriculating students in South Africa:

  • Home Language
  • First Additional Language
  • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy
  • Life Orientation
  • Either English or Afrikaans as one of the languages


The new matric pass requirements are designed to accommodate various educational aspirations and provide more students with the opportunity to succeed.

By understanding these changes, students can better prepare for their exams and plan their future educational trajectories accordingly.

This initiative by the Department of Basic Education reflects a commitment to evolving educational standards in response to the needs of South African students.