How Many Subjects Are Required for Matric?

Whether it is the gateway to higher education, the starting point of a rewarding career, or a stepping stone to further training and development, the Matric certificate is a powerful tool in shaping your future.

If you are wondering about the Matric or the National Senior Certificate (NSC) in South Africa, you are in the right place. It is the final step in your high school journey, and it is all about combining mandatory and elective subjects. Let us break it down.

What Are The Matric Subject Requirements In South Africa?


Stepping into the world of Matric in South Africa feels like opening a book filled with opportunities. Each subject, each page, holds the promise of a future yet to be written. But before we pen down our story, let us understand the chapters that make up this book.

How Many Subjects Are Needed For Matric In South Africa?

In South Africa, Matric is a significant milestone in a student’s academic journey. To achieve this certificate, students must study a combination of subjects. Let us delve into the specifics.

Which Subjects Are Compulsory For Matric In South Africa?

For every student aiming to achieve the Matric or National Senior Certificate (NSC) in South Africa, certain subjects are non-negotiable. These core subjects lay the foundation for a well-rounded education:

  • Home Language. Ensures proficiency in one’s native language, emphasizing both verbal and written communication.
  • First Additional Language. Encourages bilingualism, ensuring students can communicate effectively in a second language.
  • Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy. Equips students with essential numerical skills, offering a choice between advanced mathematical concepts or everyday mathematical applications.
  • Life Orientation. Prepares students for life’s challenges, covering topics from career guidance to health and social relationships.

Which Subjects Are Elective For Matric In South Africa?


Elective subjects
offer students the opportunity to tailor their Matric experience based on their interests and future career aspirations. The Department of Education provides a diverse list of elective subjects, some of which include:

  • Physical Sciences. For those with a keen interest in understanding the natural world through the lenses of physics and chemistry.
  • Life Sciences. Delves into the study of living organisms, from plants to humans.
  • Accounting. Perfect for budding accountants or those interested in the financial workings of businesses.
  • Business Studies. Provides insights into the world of commerce, management, and entrepreneurship.
  • History. For those intrigued by past events and how they shape our present.
  • Geography. Explores the physical world, human-environment interactions, and spatial processes.
  • Economics. Understand the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
  • Tourism. For those interested in the travel industry and its impact on economies.

And many more! The choice of electives allows students to delve deeper into areas they are 

passionate about, setting the stage for future studies and careers.

What Are The Specific Requirements For Each Matric Subject?

Imagine you are crafting a masterpiece, and each subject is a unique colour on your palette. To bring your vision to life, you need to know which shades are essential and how to mix them just right. Let us decode the hues of the Matric subjects and their specific requirements.

How Many Subjects Are Needed To Pass Matric In South Africa?

While students are required to study seven subjects in total, there is a bit of freedom when it comes to passing. To secure the Matric certificate, students must successfully pass at least six of the seven subjects. 

This ensures that students have a broad knowledge base, covering both the mandatory foundational subjects and their chosen electives. It is a balance that ensures students are well-rounded and prepared for future academic and career pursuits.

What Is The Minimum Mark Required To Pass Matric?

The journey to obtaining the Matric certificate is not just about the number of subjects passed; it is also about the quality of those passes. Each subject has a minimum mark requirement:

  • Home Language. A minimum of 40% is required. This ensures that students have a strong foundation in their primary language, which is crucial for communication in both academic and everyday settings.
  • First Additional Language. A minimum of 30% is essential. This reinforces the importance of bilingualism in South Africa’s diverse linguistic landscape.
  • Other Subjects. For all other subjects, including Mathematics, Life Orientation, and the chosen electives, students need to achieve at least 30%.

It is worth noting that while these are the minimum requirements, many universities and tertiary institutions have their own, often higher, admission criteria. As such, students are encouraged to aim higher to keep all doors of opportunity open.

How To Choose Subject Combinations For Matric?


Choosing subjects is like setting the ingredients for a recipe. The right mix can lead to a delightful dish, while a hasty choice might leave a bitter taste. At this culinary crossroads, let us explore the art of selecting the perfect Matric subject combinations.

What Subjects Can I Choose When Doing My Matric Online?

When opting for online Matric studies, students have the flexibility to choose from a variety of subjects that cater to their interests and future aspirations. Ember Academy, offers a diverse range of subjects, for Adult Matric ensuring that students receive a comprehensive education tailored to their needs. Have a look at the different matric course choices available

Course Name

Description

Adult Matric

Tailored for individuals who might have missed out on completing their Matric during their school years. This course provides adults with an opportunity to earn their Matric certificate, ensuring that age is never a barrier to education.

Matric Rewrite

Did not get the results you were hoping for the first time around? The Matric Rewrite course allows students to retake subjects to improve their scores. It is a second chance to achieve those desired results and unlock further academic or career opportunities.

Matric Upgrade

For students who have passed Matric but wish to upgrade specific subject marks to meet university or career requirements. This course focuses on enhancing understanding and performance in chosen subjects.

Each of these courses is designed with the student’s best interests in mind. Whether you are an adult returning to studies, seeking to improve past results, or aiming to meet specific requirements, there is a course tailored for you. And the best part? With online education, you can study from the comfort of your home, at a pace that suits you!

Is It Possible To Pass Matric With Only 5 Subjects?

To secure the Matric certificate, students must successfully pass at least six of the seven subjects, including all core subjects. This ensures a broad knowledge base. However, passing only five subjects might not grant you the Matric certificate, but it does not mean the end of the road. 

There are options like the Matric Rewrite or Upgrade courses to help students improve their scores and achieve their Matric.

What Are The Different Types Of Matric Certificates Available?

The type of Matric certificate you receive is a reflection of your academic achievements and subject choices. Here are the various Matric certificates available:

  • National Senior Certificate (NSC): This is the standard certificate for those who meet the general requirements of the Matric curriculum.
  • Technical Matric: Designed for students with a technical inclination, this certificate emphasises vocational subjects and provides a pathway to technical careers or further studies in technical fields.
  • Adult Matric: A special certificate tailored for adults who return to their studies to complete their Matric. It acknowledges the dedication and effort of mature students who take the initiative to further their education.

Each of these certificates serves a unique purpose and caters to different student needs and aspirations. Whether you are a traditional student, have technical interests, or are an adult learner, there is a Matric certificate for you.

How Do Different Subject Choices Affect The Type Of Matric Certificate Received?

Your subject combinations play an important role in determining the type of Matric certificate you receive. For instance, students who excel in advanced Mathematics and Physical Sciences might be better positioned for university courses in Engineering or Medicine. 

On the other hand, those who choose subjects like Business Studies or Accounting might find themselves gravitating towards Commerce degrees. It is essential to align your subject choices with your future aspirations, ensuring a smoother transition to tertiary education or the job market.

What Are The University Entry Requirements After Matric?


Completing Matric is a significant achievement, but it is also a stepping stone to further academic pursuits. Universities and tertiary institutions have specific entry requirements that students need to be aware of when considering further studies. Understanding these requirements is crucial for a smooth transition from high school to higher education

How Many Subjects Are Required For University In South Africa?

The matric curriculum instructs students to study seven subjects, universities often have their criteria when evaluating potential candidates for admission. These criteria are designed to ensure that students are adequately prepared for the rigours of tertiary education. Here is a breakdown of how universities typically assess Matric results:

  • Admission Points Score (APS)
  • Subject Requirements
  • Minimum Percentage

Admission Points Score (APS)

Many universities use the APS system to evaluate applicants. This system assigns point values to the marks achieved in each subject. Typically, universities consider the scores of the top five or six subjects, excluding Life Orientation, to calculate the APS.

Subject Requirements

Depending on the course or program of interest, universities might have specific subject prerequisites. For instance:

  • Science Degrees. Might require Physical Sciences and Mathematics.
  • Commerce Degrees. Could prioritize subjects like Mathematics, Accounting, or Business Studies.
  • Arts and Humanities. Might look favourably upon subjects like History, Languages, or Visual Arts.

Minimum Percentage

Some courses might require students to achieve a minimum percentage in specific subjects. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Medicine might necessitate a 70% or above in Life Sciences.

Is A Matric Certificate Necessary For University Admission In South Africa?

Yes, a Matric certificate is the minimum requirement for university admission in South Africa. However, simply possessing a Matric certificate does not guarantee entry. Universities also consider the quality of your pass, the subjects you have taken, and the marks you have achieved.

Which Types Of Degrees Can Be Pursued With A Matric Certificate?

A Matric certificate opens the door to a range of undergraduate degrees. The specific type of degree you can pursue often depends on your Matric results and the subjects you have taken. For instance, science subjects might be prerequisites for science-based degrees, while commerce subjects could lead to business or economics degrees.

How To Apply And Prepare For Matric Examinations?


The Matric exams are the grand finale of your high school symphony. Like any great performance, it requires preparation, practice, and a touch of passion. As the big day approaches, let us tune our instruments and get ready for the show.

How Can One Apply For Matric Courses Online?

Ember Academy makes applying online simple and convenient, so you can start your academic journey right from home. We focus on practical knowledge to help students succeed in their careers. If you’re thinking about enrolling in a course at Ember Academy, here’s an easy-to-follow guide to help you through the application process:

Step 1: Once you have identified the course you are interested in, navigate to the “How to get started” section.

Step 2: Complete the provided form with your details, including your first name, last name, phone number, email address, and the course you are interested in.

Step 3: After submitting the form, expect a call and an email from Ember Academy. One of their friendly staff members will assist you with the registration process over the phone.

Step 4: If you prefer a more direct approach, you can also call Ember Academy toll-free on 0800 39 00 27 to initiate the registration process.

Step 5: Once registered, you all gain access to Ember Academy’s unique support structures, online study groups, and easy contact methods to ensure a smooth and successful learning experience.

By following these steps, you will be well on your way to embarking on a rewarding academic journey with Ember Academy, a leading institution in distance learning.

When Are The Matric Exams Written?

The Matric examinations serve as a culmination of years of study and determine whether a student is eligible to receive their Matric certificate, which can open doors to tertiary education and various career opportunities. Here is what the matric exam schedule typically looks like: 

  • Preliminary Exams. Before the final Matric exams, students typically undergo preliminary or “mock” exams. These are usually held around September and serve as a practice run, helping students gauge their preparedness for the finals.
  • Final Exams. The official Matric exams often commence in late October and can extend until the end of November. The exact dates can vary slightly each year.
  • Results Release. After the exams are completed, students eagerly await their results. The Department of Basic Education typically releases the Matric results in the first week of January of the following year.

Factors To Consider:

  • Timetable. The Department of Basic Education releases an official exam timetable each year. students must familiarize themselves with this schedule to ensure they are adequately prepared for each subject.
  • Preparation Time. Some subjects might be spaced closely together, while others might have several days in between. Students should plan their revision schedules accordingly.
  • Venue. Exams are usually written at the student’s school or a designated examination centre. Ensure you know the location and arrive well in advance of the start time.
  • Special Provisions. Students with specific needs or challenges, such as disabilities, can apply for special provisions, like extra time. it is essential to make these arrangements well in advance.

While the Matric exams are undoubtedly a high-pressure period, thorough preparation, familiarity with the exam schedule, and a clear understanding of the logistics can help alleviate some of the stress. Remember, these exams are just one step in your broader academic and career journey.

What Are The Best Ways To Prepare For Matric Exams?

Preparing for the Matric exams is a crucial phase in a student’s academic journey. With the right strategies and a disciplined approach, students can optimize their study sessions and approach the exams with confidence. Here are 10 ways to effectively prepare for your matric exams

  • Set Clear Goals
  • Create A Study Schedule
  • Prioritize Subjects
  • Use Past Papers
  • Study Groups
  • Breaks Are Essential
  • Stay Updated
  • Limit Distractions
  • Review And Revise
  • Avoid Cramming

Set Clear Goals

Begin by outlining what you aim to achieve for each subject. This clarity provides direction. Breaking these goals into smaller tasks can make the study process more structured and less overwhelming.

Create A Study Schedule

Draft a detailed timetable, allocating specific hours to each subject. This structure ensures a balanced coverage of all topics. Regularly revisiting and adjusting the schedule based on progress can enhance its effectiveness.

Prioritize Subjects

Some subjects might need more attention than others. Identify these early on and allocate additional time to them. This targeted approach ensures that challenging areas receive the focus they require.

Use Past Papers

Practising with old exam papers can be invaluable. It familiarizes you with the exam format and helps identify areas of improvement. Regularly reviewing mistakes and understanding the marking scheme can boost confidence.

Study Groups

Collaborative learning can offer fresh insights. Engaging in group discussions can help clarify doubts and reinforce understanding. Moreover, teaching a concept to peers is a great way to test one’s grasp of the topic.

Breaks Are Essential

Continuous study can lead to burnout. Intersperse study sessions with short breaks to refresh the mind. Techniques like the Pomodoro method, which involves focused study intervals followed by breaks, can enhance productivity.

Stay Updated

The academic landscape is dynamic. Joining student forums or groups can keep you informed about any changes or updates related to the Matric exams. Sharing resources and tips with peers can also be beneficial.

Limit Distractions

A focused study environment is paramount. Consider apps that block distracting websites during study hours. Communicating your study schedule to your family can also help minimize interruptions.

Review And Revise

Regular revision reinforces memory. Techniques like creating summary notes, flashcards, or even mind maps can aid quick recaps. Periodic reviews ensure that previously studied content remains fresh in the mind.

Avoid Cramming 

Last-minute cramming rarely yields good results. Spreading out study sessions and revisiting topics periodically is more effective. This approach, known as spaced repetition, enhances long-term retention.

What To Do If Facing Challenges In Matric?


Matric is a critical phase in a student’s academic journey, and it is not uncommon to face challenges along the way. Whether it is academic difficulties, personal struggles, or external pressures, it is essential to know how to navigate these hurdles and find solutions.

What Should Be Done If Matric Is Failed?

Failing Matric can be a discouraging experience, but it is not the end of the road. There are several paths forward

  • Matric Rewrite. Many institutions, including distance learning colleges like Ember Academy, offer Matric rewrite programs. This allows students to retake subjects they struggled with.
  • Supplementary Exams. If you have narrowly missed the passing mark in one or two subjects, you might be eligible for supplementary exams. These are typically written a few months after the main exams.
  • Seek Feedback. Approach teachers or educators to understand areas of improvement. Their insights can guide your preparation for rewrites or supplementary exams.

Are There Any Alternatives To Matric?


While the traditional Matric qualification is a widely recognized and sought-after credential in South Africa, it is essential to understand that it is not the only pathway to further education or employment. 

Recognizing the diverse needs and aspirations of students, the South African education system offers several alternative qualifications. These alternatives cater to those who might have different academic strengths and interests, or who may have faced challenges with the standard Matric program. Let us explore some of these alternative pathways:

  • Technical Matric (N3). This is equivalent to Matric but focuses on vocational subjects. It is ideal for those inclined towards technical fields.
  • General Education and Training Certificate (GETC). This is for those who have completed Grade 9 and want a certificate to showcase their skills.
  • Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC). This is a vocational qualification equivalent to Matric and can lead to specific job roles.

Is It Possible To Do Matric Part-Time?

Absolutely. Part-time Matric is an option for those who can not commit to full-time studies due to personal or financial reasons. Institutions like Ember Academy offer flexible part-time Matric programs, allowing students to balance their studies with other commitments

How To Utilize A Matric Certificate?


A Matric certificate is more than just a piece of paper, it is a testament to years of hard work, dedication, and academic achievement. It serves as a key that can unlock numerous opportunities in higher education, the job market, and beyond. But how can you make the most of this qualification? Stay glued.

What Are The Different Uses Of A Matric Certificate?

The versatility of a Matric certificate is often underestimated. It is not just a ticket to higher education but can serve multiple purposes in shaping your career and personal development trajectory. Here are some of the primary uses:

  • Higher Education
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Vocational Training

Higher Education

The certificate is a primary requirement for admission to universities, colleges, and other tertiary institutions in South Africa, leading to undergraduate degrees, diplomas, and other advanced courses.

Employment Opportunities

Many employers regard the Matric certificate as a foundational qualification, opening doors to various job roles across sectors.

Vocational Training

For those not inclined towards traditional academic routes, the certificate can also lead to vocational training programs, apprenticeships, or specific industry training.

Is A Matric Certificate Required To Get A Job?

While not all jobs mandate a Matric certificate, having one can certainly enhance job prospects. Many employers view it as a testament to a candidate’s foundational skills and commitment to learning.

Which Careers Can Be Pursued With A Matric Certificate?

A Matric certificate, while a foundational academic achievement, can be the sole qualification needed for a range of job roles in various sectors. These roles often provide individuals with the opportunity to gain experience, upskill, and climb the career ladder. Here are some jobs that typically require just a Matric certificate

  • Administrative Assistant. Handling office tasks, filing, and managing appointments.
  • Sales Representative. Promoting and selling products or services.
  • Customer Service Agent. Assisting customers, addressing inquiries, and resolving complaints.
  • Bank Teller. Handling customer transactions at banks.
  • Data Entry Clerk. Inputting data into digital systems.
  • Retail Associate. Assisting customers, managing stock, and handling sales in retail environments.
  • Call Center Agent. Addressing customer inquiries and issues over the phone.
  • Warehouse Worker. Managing inventory, packing, and shipping goods.
  • Security Guard. Ensuring the safety of properties and individuals

As students and professionals navigate their paths, it is essential to recognize the value of this foundational qualification. Whether it is the gateway to higher education, the starting point of a rewarding career, or a stepping stone to further training and development, the Matric certificate is a powerful tool in shaping your future. 

People Also Asked

The National Senior Certificate (NSC) is the qualification awarded to South African students who complete Grade 12. It is commonly referred to as the Matric certificate and is recognized as the minimum requirement for university entrance in South Africa.

The Amended Senior Certificate (ASC) is designed for adults who have not completed their Matric or need to improve their Matric results. It offers them a second chance to obtain a Matric certificate by meeting the requirements set out by the Department of Basic Education.

An Adult Matric Certificate is similar to the Amended Senior Certificate. It is aimed at adults who did not have the opportunity to complete their Matric during their school years. This certificate allows them to complete their secondary education and obtain a Matric qualification.

Yes, students with foreign school qualifications can apply to South African universities. However, they must obtain an evaluation certificate from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) to ensure their foreign qualifications meet the necessary standards for university entrance.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is responsible for setting the curriculum, exam papers, and marking guidelines for the Matric exams. They ensure that the exams are standardized, fair, and of high quality. The DBE also oversees the administration of the exams, ensuring that they are conducted with integrity and transparency.

Author: Roegshana Pamplin 
Editor: Caitlin Roux
Date Published: February 7, 2024

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