Matriculation in South Africa

In South Africa, matriculation (or matric) is a term commonly used to refer to the final year of high school and the qualification received on graduating from high school, although strictly speaking, it refers to the minimum university entrance requirements. The first formal examination was conducted in South Africa under the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1858.[1]

In general usage, the school-leaving exams, which are government-administered, are known as the "matric exams"; by extension, students in the final year of high school (grade 12) are known as "matrics". (For example, "Only matrics can be prefects, not students in grade 11.") Once the Matric year has been passed, students are said to have "matriculated". (For example, "Mark matriculated with 3 distinctions.") A 'normal pass' is given for an average mark 40%-49%, a pass with merit for 60% - 89%, and a distinction is given for each subject achieved at 80% or above.

Officially, the qualification obtained at the end of secondary schooling is the National Senior Certificate, and the school-leaving examinations are the "Senior Certificate Examinations". Students who fulfill certain requirements (an achievement rating of 4 (Adequate Achievement, 50% - 59%) or better in four (4) designated subjects) in their Senior Certificate results receive a Matriculation Endorsement/Bachelor's Pass on their certificates; this endorsement is the legal minimum requirement for admission to a bachelor's degree at any South African university. Students applying to a South African university with foreign school qualifications can obtain a "Matriculation Exemption" to show that they meet the same standards.

This multiple meaning can lead to confusion; for example, the statement that a person "passed matric" or "has their matric" may mean either that they received a Senior Certificate (i.e. they finished high school) or specifically that they received a Senior Certificate with Matriculation Endorsement (i.e. they are eligible to enter university).

South African universities do not set their own entrance examinations, although many use standardized entrance tests of linguistic, numerical and mathematical ability, called the National Benchmark Tests,[2] split into the AQL Test (Academic and Quantitative Literacy) and the Mathematics Test.

Before the 1990s, the standard Matric Certificate with Endorsement was worded as "Examination result - Passed with full exemption". This wording meant that the candidate passed their NSC exams with exemption from entrance exams when applying for University entrance.

The GED® credential is an alternative to a grade 12 which is recognised in South Africa by both SAQA and Universities South Africa. It can usually be achieved in less time than traditional matric as candidates can choose their own test dates. Tests are written on computer at one of 37 test centres in South Africa. There are only 4 subjects which are tested. There is no Afrikaans test. There are no prerequisite qualifications. The only requirement is that candidates must be age 16 or older. The four subjects are:

Universities SA, which governs the entrance criteria for South African universities, recognises the GED® as a foreign grade 12 equivalent and they will issue a certificate granting a foreign conditional exemption to candidates who meet the following requirements:

The GED® is required in combination with either

  1. a letter of acceptance to an accredited American university or
  2. a prescribed score on the SAT test[3]

Candidates wishing to prepare for the GED® tests can enrol for online classes at

See also


  1. "Examinations". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  2. "National Benchmark Test Project |". Retrieved 2013-07-06.
  3. Erwee, Shirley (27 November 2016). "Mrs". Online GED South Africa. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
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