Can You Get a Bachelor Pass with One Failed Subject in Matric?

In South Africa, Grade 12 learners face a pivotal moment as they await their matric results. This guide explores the possibilities after receiving results, including the chance of getting a Bachelor’s Pass despite one failed subject. Requirements and implications may vary, so it’s crucial to understand them thoroughly.

What Does It Mean to Get a Bachelor Pass in Matric?

Achieving a Bachelor’s Pass in matric is a significant accomplishment. It is a testament to a student’s dedication and hard work throughout their school years. This pass level opens doors to various tertiary education opportunities. But what exactly are the requirements for this coveted pass? Let us delve deeper into the criteria and their  significance.

What Are The Requirements For A Bachelor Pass In Matric?

Achieving a Bachelor’s Pass in matric is a significant milestone for South African students. it is not just about passing; it is about meeting specific criteria that open doors to university studies. Let us delve into the intricacies of these requirements to understand what it truly takes to earn this esteemed pass.

Minimum Percentage Required In Each Subject.

To achieve a Bachelor’s Pass, students typically need to score above certain percentages. These percentages vary based on the subject’s importance and difficulty. For instance:

Subject Category

Minimum Percentage

Home Language

Above 40%

Four Other Subjects

Above 50%

Remaining Two Subjects

Above 30%

Compulsory Subjects For A Bachelor Pass: 

For a Bachelor’s Pass, students must take certain compulsory subjects. These include two languages, one of which must be the home language, Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy, and Life Orientation. The performance in these subjects plays a significant role in determining the type of pass a student receives.

Elective Subjects And Their Impact On The Bachelor Pass:

In addition to compulsory subjects, students choose elective subjects based on their interests and career aspirations. These subjects can range from Physical Sciences and Accounting to History and Visual Arts. The combination of elective subjects can influence eligibility for specific university courses.

What Are The Different Types Of Matric Passes?

Matric results in South Africa are not a one-size-fits-all. Depending on a student’s scores and subject choices, they can achieve different types of passes, each with its own set of opportunities and challenges. Let us explore these diverse pass types to understand their significance.

Bachelor Pass

This is the highest level of pass, allowing students to pursue undergraduate degree courses at universities. it is a testament to a student’s academic prowess and opens doors to a wide range of academic fields.

Diploma Pass

A Diploma Pass is a notch below the Bachelor Pass. It qualifies students for diploma courses at Technikon or University of Technology. These courses are more practical and industry-focused.

Certificate Pass

This level of pass is for students who meet the minimum requirements to pass matric but do not qualify for diploma or degree courses. It allows them to pursue certificate courses at FET colleges.

The Significance Of Each Type Of Pass

While a Bachelor Pass is often the most sought-after, each pass type has its value. Diploma and Certificate passes can lead to specialized careers and offer practical skills training.

How Does A Bachelor Pass Differ From A Diploma Pass?

While both the Bachelor’s and Diploma passes signify success in matric, they have distinct differences. These differences not only lie in the academic requirements, but also in the future opportunities they present. Let us compare and contrast these two passes to gain clarity.

Subject Requirements

A Bachelor’s Pass has more stringent subject requirements, especially concerning core subjects like Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

Percentage Criteria

To achieve a Bachelor’s Pass, students generally need a higher aggregate score compared to a Diploma Pass.

Future Opportunities Associated With Each Pass

 A Bachelor Pass offers a wider range of university courses and career opportunities. In contrast, a Diploma Pass is more specialized, leading to careers in specific industries or trades.

Can You Pursue University Studies If You Fail a Subject in Matric?


The fear of failing a subject in matric is common among students. Such a setback raises concerns about university admissions and prospects. However, it is essential to understand that one failed subject does not define a student’s entire academic journey. There are pathways to success, even after such challenges.

What If I Fail One Subject In Matric And Want To Go To University?

Failing a subject in matric can be disheartening, but it does not necessarily spell the end of one’s university dreams. Depending on the subject and the university’s policies, there might still be hope. Let us navigate the implications of such a scenario and seek potential solutions.

The Implications Of Failing A Core Subject

Failing a core subject, like Mathematics or Physical Sciences, can be more detrimental than failing an elective. It might restrict access to specific university courses, especially those in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

The Implications Of Failing An Elective Subject 

While failing an elective might be less impactful than a core subject, it can still influence university admissions. For instance, failing Visual Arts might limit opportunities in Fine Arts courses at universities.

Universities That Offer Leniency For Failed Subjects 

Some universities understand that students can have off days. They might consider other achievements or entrance tests to offer admissions. Institutions like Ember Academy provide pathways for students to improve their matric results and pursue their desired courses.

Is It Possible To Get A Bachelor Pass Without Passing Maths?

Introduction: Mathematics, often seen as a pivotal subject, raises concerns for many students. While it is undeniably important, is it an absolute necessity for a Bachelor’s  Pass? Let us dissect the role of Mathematics in achieving this pass and explore potential alternatives.

The Importance Of Maths In The Bachelor Pass Criteria

 For many university courses, especially in the STEM fields, Mathematics is a prerequisite. Achieving a good score can significantly boost a student’s chances of admission.

Alternatives To Maths And Their Acceptability

 For students who struggle with Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy is an alternative. However, it is essential to note that not all university courses accept Mathematical Literacy as a substitute for Mathematics.

Universities That Accept Students Without Maths

Some courses, especially in the Arts and Humanities, might not require Mathematics. Students should research universities and courses to find those that align with their strengths and interests.

Can You Retake A Subject In Matric If You Fail It?

Everyone deserves a second chance, and the South African education system acknowledges this. For students who stumble in their matric exams, there is an opportunity to rise again. Let us understand the process and implications of retaking a subject.

Every student deserves a second chance. For those who falter in their matric exams, retaking a subject offers a shot at redemption.

The Process Of Retaking A Subject

Whether through traditional schooling or platforms like Ember Academy, students can register, study, and reattempt the subject. This process, though challenging, can significantly improve their final matric results.

The Impact Of The Retake On The Final Matric Certificate

A successful retake can replace the previous score, potentially elevating the student’s overall average and type of pass.

Tips For Preparing For A Retake

Proper preparation is the key to success. Revision tips offer valuable insights to help students excel in their retakes.

How Do Matric Results Impact University Admissions?


Matric results serve as a gateway to a student’s future in South Africa. They act as a reflection of a student’s dedication, understanding, and capabilities. Universities scrutinize these results to gauge a student’s potential for higher studies. But beyond the numbers, how do these scores truly influence university admissions? Let us explore the nuances.

Can You Achieve A Bachelor Pass In Matric With A Low Average?

Introduction: A Bachelor’s Pass is often associated with academic excellence, but what if a student’s average is not top-tier? Can they still aspire for this pass? Let us delve into the nuances of averages and their impact on achieving this coveted pass.

The Minimum Average Required For A Bachelor Pass

While each subject has its passing criteria, the overall average also plays a crucial role. This average is a testament to a student’s consistency across subjects and can influence university choices.

How Universities View A Low Average

Universities understand that students are more than just their grades. While a high average is advantageous, universities also value extracurricular activities, leadership roles, community service, and personal essays. Institutions like Ember Academy even offer programs to help students bridge the gap and enhance their academic standings.

Strategies To Compensate For A Low Average In University Applications

Beyond grades, students can showcase their passion for their chosen field, provide recommendations, or even share personal stories that highlight their determination and resilience.

What Are The Admission Requirements For Different University Courses?

As students transition from matric to university, they are met with a plethora of course options. Each course, with its unique demands, requires specific academic achievements. Let us explore these varied requirements to help you make informed decisions.

Science And Engineering Courses

These rigorous courses often demand a strong foundation in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and sometimes Biology. Entrance tests, interviews, or practical assessments might be additional hurdles.

Arts And Humanities Courses

While these courses might be more flexible with Mathematics requirements, they value linguistic proficiency, creativity, and critical thinking. Some courses might require portfolios, auditions, or written essays.

Commerce And Business Courses: 

These courses emphasize analytical and logical thinking. A good grasp of Mathematics, Economics, and Accounting can be beneficial. Some universities might also value leadership roles or entrepreneurial ventures.

Which Is Better: Studying At A Private University Or A Public University?

The debate between private and public universities is age-old. Each type of institution offers a distinct experience, with its own set of advantages and challenges. Let us weigh the pros and cons to guide students in their tertiary education choices.

Science And Engineering Courses

These rigorous courses often demand a strong foundation in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and sometimes Biology. Entrance tests, interviews, or practical assessments might be additional hurdles.

Arts And Humanities Courses

While these courses might be more flexible with Mathematics requirements, they value linguistic proficiency, creativity, and critical thinking. Some courses might require portfolios, auditions, or written essays.

Commerce And Business Courses

These courses emphasize analytical and logical thinking. A good grasp of Mathematics, Economics, and Accounting can be beneficial. Some universities might also value leadership roles or entrepreneurial ventures.

How Can I Finance My Further Studies After Matric?

Pursuing higher education is an investment in one’s future. However, the financial aspect of this journey can be daunting for many. With tuition fees, accommodation costs, and other expenses, how can students ensure they can afford their dream courses? Let us explore the financial avenues available.

Is It Possible To Get A Bursary For University If I Do Not Excel In Matric?

Bursaries are often seen as rewards for academic brilliance, but do they cater only to the top achievers? Can an average student dream of financial aid? Let us explore the diverse criteria of bursaries and understand their accessibility.

Bursaries Based On Financial Need

Several bursaries prioritize students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. These bursaries aim to level the playing field and ensure that every deserving student gets a fair shot at higher education.

Bursaries Based On Extracurricular Achievements

Not all bursaries focus solely on academics. Achievements in sports, arts, or community service can also be recognized and rewarded. students need to highlight these achievements in their applications.

Tips For Applying For Bursaries

Researching available bursaries, understanding their criteria, preparing a compelling application, and meeting deadlines are crucial steps. Students should also consider attending workshops or seeking guidance from career counsellors.

What Types Of Financial Aid Are Available To Students?

Financing higher education can be a maze, with various avenues offering financial relief. From government grants to private scholarships, the options are vast. Let us guide students through this maze, helping them understand each financial aid type.

Government Grants And Loans

The South African government offers various grants and loans to support students. These financial aids can be based on merit, financial need, or specific fields of study.

 Private Scholarships

Corporations, NGOs, and private institutions offer scholarships. These scholarships can be based on academic excellence, leadership qualities, or specific talents like music or sports.

Work-Study Programs

Many universities offer programs where students can work part-time, either on-campus or with associated organizations, to support their studies. These programs offer both financial aid and practical experience.

How Can I Improve My Chances Of Employability?

In today’s competitive world, a degree might not guarantee a job. Students need to go beyond academics, equipping themselves with skills and experiences that make them stand out. Let us delve into strategies that can enhance a student’s employability in the modern job market.

Internships And Work Experience

Practical experience is invaluable. Internships offer insights into the industry, help students apply their theoretical knowledge, and build a professional network.

Networking And Building Connections

Building a robust professional network can open doors to job opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship. Platforms like LinkedIn, alumni associations, and industry seminars can be instrumental.

Continuous Learning And Skill Development

The world is evolving rapidly. To stay relevant, students should continuously update their skills, attend workshops, and be open to lifelong learning.

What Are My Options After Completing Matric?

Completing matric is a significant achievement, but it is just the beginning of a student’s journey into adulthood. The world beyond matric is vast, and filled with opportunities, challenges, and decisions to make. Whether it is further studies, starting a business, or exploring the world, the options are endless. Let us dive deep into the myriad of possibilities that await students post-matric.

What Career Paths Are Open To You If You Do Not Excel In Matric?

Introduction: Not every student will graduate matric with flying colours, but that does not mean their future is bleak. The world is filled with success stories of individuals who turned their challenges into opportunities. Let us explore the alternative career paths available for those who might not have excelled in matric.

Vocational Training And Technical Colleges

Not everyone is cut out for traditional university education. Vocational training offers hands-on experience and skills in specific trades. From plumbing to culinary arts, these courses provide direct entry into the workforce. Technical colleges, like those affiliated with Ember Academy, offer specialized training that can lead to fulfilling careers.

Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Academic excellence is not a prerequisite for business success. Many successful entrepreneurs did not excel academically. With the right idea, passion, and determination, students can venture into the business world. Resources like business workshops, start-up incubators, and mentorship programs can guide budding entrepreneurs.

Apprenticeships And On-The-Job Training

Learning while working is a valuable approach for many. Apprenticeships offer structured training in professions like carpentry, electrical work, or mechanics. Students earn while they learn, gaining both experience and skills.

How Can You Start Your Own Business Or Explore The World Post-Matric?

The world of post-matric is not confined to textbooks and classrooms. it is a vast expanse waiting to be explored, filled with opportunities to learn, grow, and discover oneself. Whether it is the entrepreneurial spirit calling or the wanderlust itch, Let us delve into the possibilities.

Steps To Start A Small Business

Starting a business requires more than just an idea. It involves market research, business planning, funding, and perseverance. Platforms like Ember offer courses and resources to guide young entrepreneurs through the process.

Opportunities For Travel And Exploration

Travel broadens the mind and offers life lessons no classroom can. Gap years, volunteering abroad, or backpacking trips can be transformative experiences. They offer insights into different cultures, lifestyles, and perspectives.

The Importance Of Self-Discovery And Personal Growth

Beyond careers and academics, post-matric years are crucial for personal development. it is a time to discover passions, strengths, and purpose. Engaging in self-reflection, pursuing hobbies, or taking personal development courses can be enlightening.

Whether it is higher education, vocational training, or entrepreneurial ventures, the horizon is vast and inviting. So, to every Grade 12 learner reading this: Remember, your matric certificate is a chapter, not the entire story. Embrace the journey, cherish the lessons, and stride forward with confidence, for the world is your oyster!

People Also Asked

In South Africa, the passing mark for matric varies depending on the subject and its level of difficulty. For most subjects, the passing mark is 30% or 40%. However, for languages, students must achieve at least 40% if it is their home language and 30% if it is their first or second additional language. It is essential to note that these percentages are general guidelines, and specific requirements might vary based on the curriculum or changes in the education system.

In the South African matric system, students are required to take seven subjects. Of these, four are compulsory: two languages (one must be the student’s home language), Life Orientation, and either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy. The remaining three subjects are chosen from a list of approved subjects, which includes options like Physical Sciences, Business Studies, History, and more.

Yes, a South African matric certificate is recognized in many countries around the world. However, the acceptance often depends on the specific university or institution abroad and the course of study. Some universities might require additional qualifications or entrance exams. it is advisable to research the specific requirements of the foreign institution or consult with an educational advisor to ensure a smooth application process.

Supplementary exams are viewed as an opportunity for students to improve their matric results. Most universities in South Africa accept the results of supplementary exams, especially if they lead to meeting the admission requirements for a specific course. However, it is essential to check with the specific university regarding their stance on supplementary exams, as some might have particular guidelines or preferences.

Author: Roegshana Pamplin
Editor: Caitlin Roux
Date Published: February 8, 2024 

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