Is South African Matric Equivalent To A-Levels?

In the ever-evolving landscape of global education, the significance of A-levels has been steadily rising, not just in the UK but across the world. South Africa, with its unique educational challenges and aspirations, has been no exception. 

As students and parents grapple with choices that could shape future academic and professional trajectories, understanding the role and relevance of A-levels in the South African context becomes paramount. 

How Do A-levels Compare With The South African Matric?

The educational landscape is vast and varied, with different countries offering unique qualifications. In the realm of pre-university qualifications, two prominent contenders are the UK’s A-levels and South Africa’s Matric. But how do these two stack up against each other?

Is The South African Matric Equivalent To The UK A-Levels?

While both the South African Matric and the UK A-levels are advanced-level qualifications, they are not directly equivalent. A-levels, originating from the UK, have global recognition, while the South African Matric is more regionally recognized, especially within the African continent.

How Can I Convert My South African Matric Grades To A-Level Grades?

Conversion between South African Matric grades to A-level grades is not a direct process due to the differences in curriculum and grading systems. It is recommended to consult with specific universities or educational bodies that might have conversion guidelines or equivalence  charts.

Is It Better To Do A-Levels Or The South African Matric?

The decision between A-levels and the South African Matric largely depends on your educational and career aspirations. 

If you are aiming for international studies, especially in the UK, A-levels might be more advantageous. However, for local South African institutions, the Matric is the standard.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Doing A-Levels In South Africa?

The decision to pursue A-levels in South Africa comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. Let us delve into them:

Pros of A-levels in South Africa

Cons of A-levels in South Africa

Globally recognized qualification

Can be more expensive than Matric

In-depth study of chosen subjects

Limited schools offering A-levels

Flexibility for international studies

Might not be recognized by all local institutions

What Are The Benefits Of Doing A-Levels In South Africa?

Choosing to pursue A-levels in South Africa can be a strategic decision for students aiming for a robust academic foundation. 

This British qualification, while not native to the South African educational landscape, brings with it a host of advantages that can be pivotal for a student’s academic and professional journey.

  • Global Recognition
  • Specialised Knowledge
  • Distance Learning
Global Recognition

A-levels are recognized by universities worldwide. This global acknowledgement provides South African students with a broader range of options for higher education, especially if they are considering studying abroad.

Specialised Knowledge

Unlike broader curriculums, A-levels allow students to delve deep into their chosen subjects. This in-depth study prepares them for specialised university courses, ensuring they have a strong foundation in their field of interest.

Distance Learning

The digital age has made education more accessible. Institutions like Ember Academy offer remote A-level courses, allowing students to study from the comfort of their homes, making it convenient and flexible.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Doing A-Levels In South Africa?

Every educational pathway comes with its set of challenges, and A-levels in South Africa are no exception. While the qualification offers numerous benefits, students and parents should also be aware of potential hurdles that might influence their decision.

  • Cost
  • Limited Availability
  • Local Recognition

Pursuing A-levels can be a financial commitment. The expenses can be higher than the South African Matric, especially when you factor in examination fees, study materials, and potential tutoring.

Limited Availability

A-levels are not as widespread in South Africa as they are in the UK. Not all schools offer this qualification, which might require students to opt for distance learning or even consider relocating to a different region.

Local Recognition

While A-levels are globally recognized, it is essential to note that some South African institutions might prioritize Matric graduates. As such, students should research specific university requirements to ensure their A-levels will be acknowledged.

What Do I Need To Know About University Admissions With A-Levels In South Africa?

The transition from high school to university is a significant step, and when you are armed with an international qualification like the A-levels, it is essential to understand how it translates within the South African university admissions landscape.

Do I Need A-Levels To Get Into University In South Africa?

A-levels, while prestigious, are not the only ticket to South African universities. However, they can be a valuable asset in the admissions process, especially for certain courses or universities.

Which A-Level Subjects Are Required For University Admission In South Africa?

Navigating the university admissions landscape with A-levels in South Africa requires a clear understanding of subject prerequisites. 

Different courses and universities have varied expectations, and aligning your A-level subjects with these can be pivotal for a smooth admissions process:

  • Subject Specificity
  • General Acceptance
Subject Specificity

Courses with a specialized focus, such as Medicine or Engineering, often have specific A-level subject requirements. For instance, Medicine might necessitate A-levels in Biology and Chemistry.

General Acceptance

While specialized courses have particular prerequisites, many universities value strong performances in foundational A-level subjects like Mathematics, English, and the Sciences.

What Is The Minimum A-Level Grade Required For University Admission In South Africa?

Achieving the right grades in your A-levels is more than just a testament to your academic prowess; it is usually  a key criterion for university admissions in South Africa. 

Different institutions and courses set varied grade benchmarks, and understanding these can be instrumental in your university application journey:

  • Varied Requirements
  • Benchmarking
Varied Requirements

Universities and specific courses might have distinct grade expectations. Some might be accommodating, while others, especially competitive courses, might demand top-tier grades.


Typically, A-level grades that mirror distinctions in the South African Matric are viewed favourably. However, consulting with individual universities is crucial to ascertain specific grade requirements.

How Do I Apply To University In South Africa With A-Levels?

The transition from A-levels to university in South Africa is a significant leap, and the application process can seem intricate. However, with the right guidance and understanding of the steps involved, you can navigate this journey with confidence:

  • Research
  • Documentation
  • Application Process


Start by pinpointing universities that both offer your desired course and recognize A-levels as a valid entry qualification.


Collate all essential documents, which will encompass your A-level results, identification, and any other paperwork stipulated by the university.

Application Process

The majority of South African universities have transitioned to online application systems. Adhering to all deadlines and furnishing comprehensive, accurate information is paramount.

How Can I Pursue A-Levels In South Africa?

Considering A-Levels in South Africa? It’s a promising step for your education journey. Whether you’re a local student or planning to study in South Africa, this path offers excellent opportunities. Let’s explore how to get started.

Where Can I Study A-Levels In South Africa?

A-levels, being an international qualification, are offered in select institutions in South Africa. Whether you are looking for a traditional classroom experience or the flexibility of distance learning, there are options available:

What Are The Best A-Level Schools In South Africa?

Opting to pursue A-levels in South Africa is a commendable decision, but it is equally crucial to select the right institution. The school you choose can significantly influence your A-level experience, from the quality of teaching to the resources available:

  • Reputation And Results
  • Facilities And Faculty
  • Feedback
Reputation And Results:

Schools with a consistent history of top-performing A-level students are often indicative of quality teaching and robust academic resources.

Facilities And Faculty

Modern facilities coupled with experienced A-level educators can significantly enhance your academic journey.


Insights from former students and parents can be invaluable. Their first-hand experiences can offer a clearer picture of what to expect.

How Long Does It Take To Complete A-Levels In South Africa?

Typically, A-levels take two years to complete. The curriculum is divided into the AS level (first year) and the A2 level (second year). However, the duration might vary if you are studying part-time or through distance learning.

How Much Does It Cost To Do A-Levels In South Africa?

The cost of A-levels in South Africa can vary based on the institution, location, and whether you are opting for classroom learning or distance learning. 

On average, you can expect to pay between ZAR 20,000 to ZAR 50,000 per annum, but it is essential to check with specific institutions for accurate figures.

Can I Get A Scholarship To Study A-Levels In South Africa?

Education is a valuable investment, and while A-levels promise a robust academic foundation, they also come with associated costs. Scholarships can be a beacon of hope, lightening the financial load and making the A-level journey more accessible:

  • Institutional Scholarships
  • External Scholarships
Institutional Scholarships

Many institutions offering A-levels have scholarship programs in place. These are often merit-based, rewarding academic excellence or other notable achievements.

External Scholarships

Beyond the confines of schools and colleges, there are numerous trusts, organizations, and foundations in South Africa that might offer scholarships to deserving A-level students. Exploring these avenues can open doors to financial relief.

How Should I Prepare For A-Levels?

Embarking on the A-level journey is a commendable decision, one that promises a robust academic foundation. However, the rigour and depth of the curriculum demand meticulous preparation. 

Here is a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the preparation phase, ensuring you are well-equipped to tackle the challenges and reap the rewards of this esteemed qualification:

How Can I Prepare For A-Levels?

A-levels, with their in-depth curriculum, require a strategic approach to preparation. The right strategies can not only enhance understanding but also ensure retention, paving the way for academic success:

  • Study Plan
  • Resources
  • Practice Papers

Study Plan

Crafting a detailed study plan is paramount. This should factor in the syllabus, your strengths and weaknesses, and allocate ample time for revision. Regularly updating this plan based on progress can be beneficial.


Utilizing a mix of resources, from textbooks to online platforms, can offer varied perspectives and enhance understanding. Websites like Ember Academy provide valuable revision tips that can be instrumental.

Practice Papers

Regularly attempting past papers can offer insights into the exam pattern, highlight areas that need attention, and boost confidence.

What Are The Different Ways To Study For A-Levels?

The A-level curriculum, with its depth and breadth, demands a multifaceted approach to studying. Understanding the various methods can help tailor a strategy that aligns with your learning style:

  • Self-Study
  • Group Study
  • Distance Learning

This traditional method involves studying independently, leveraging textbooks and online resources. It offers flexibility but demands discipline.

Group Study

Collaborating with peers can offer varied perspectives, clarify doubts, and make the learning process interactive.

Distance Learning

Institutions like Ember Academy offer A-level courses remotely, allowing for a structured learning experience from the comfort of your home.

What Resources Are Available To Help Me Study For A-Levels?

A plethora of resources are at the disposal of A-level students. Leveraging these can enhance understanding and ensure a holistic preparation:


These are the backbone of A-level preparation, offering detailed explanations and practice questions.

Online Platforms

Websites and apps offer interactive lessons, video explanations, and quizzes. They can supplement textbook learning and offer a varied approach.

Tutoring Centres

For students seeking personalized guidance, tutoring centres  can offer tailored lessons, addressing specific challenges.

Can I Get A Tutor To Help Me With A-Levels?

Seeking external guidance, especially in the form of tutoring, can be a game-changer for many A-level students. Tutors, with their expertise, can offer personalized strategies, clarify doubts, and ensure you are on the right track:

  • Benefits
  • Finding The Right Fit


Tutors can provide individualized attention, tailor lessons based on your needs, and offer flexible schedules.

Finding the Right Fit

It is crucial to find a tutor who understands the A-level curriculum, aligns with your learning style, and is approachable.

How Can I Find A Good A-Level Tutor?

The quest for the perfect A-level tutor requires a blend of research and intuition. The right tutor can not only enhance understanding but also boost confidence:

  • Recommendations
  • Online Platforms
  • Trial Lessons

Word of mouth, especially from peers or seniors who have undertaken A-levels, can be invaluable. Their first-hand experiences can offer insights.

Online Platforms

Numerous websites connect students with qualified tutors. These platforms often have reviews and ratings, offering a glimpse into the tutor’s efficacy.

Trial Lessons

Before committing, consider taking a trial lesson. This can help gauge the tutor’s teaching style and ascertain if it aligns with your needs.

How Can I Stay Motivated And Manage Stress While Studying For A-Levels?

The rigorous nature of A-levels can sometimes be overwhelming, making stress management and motivation crucial components of your study journey. Balancing academic demands with self-care ensures not just academic success, but also mental well-being:

  • Routine
  • Study Environment
  • Active Learning
  • Physical Activity
  • Mindfulness and Meditation


Establishing a consistent study routine can help in time management and ensuring regular breaks to avoid burnout.

Study Environment

Creating a conducive study space, free from distractions, can enhance focus and productivity.

Active Learning

Engaging in active learning techniques, such as teaching the material to someone else or creating mind maps, can break the monotony and enhance retention.

Physical Activity

Regular exercise can act as a stress reliever, improve concentration, and boost overall well-being.

Mindfulness And Meditation 

Practices like meditation and deep breathing exercises can help in managing anxiety and staying centred.

How Can I Manage My Time Effectively While Studying For A-Levels?

Time management is the linchpin of A-level preparation. Effective utilization of time can make the difference between feeling overwhelmed and staying on top of your studies:

  • Prioritisation
  • Study Blocks
  • Avoid Procrastination
  • Set Goals
  • Review And Adjust

Identify topics that demand more time and those you are confident in. Allocate study hours accordingly.

Study Blocks

Instead of long, continuous study sessions, break your study time into manageable blocks, interspersed with short breaks.

Avoid Procrastination

Identify what causes delays, be it distractions or lack of interest, and address them head-on. Tools like the Pomodoro Technique can be beneficial.

Set Goals

Establish daily, weekly, and monthly academic goals. This provides direction and a sense of accomplishment.

Review and Adjust

Regularly assess your study schedule. If something is not working, be flexible and adjust your strategy.

How Can I Deal With Stress While Studying For A-Levels?

Stress, if unchecked, can hinder your A-level preparation. Recognizing stressors and addressing them pro-actively can ensure a smoother study journey:

  • Open Communication
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Stay Organized
  • Seek Help
Open Communication

Talk about your feelings and challenges with someone you trust, be it family, friends, or a counsellor.

Relaxation Techniques

Engage in activities that relax you, be it reading, listening to music, or taking a walk.

Stay Organized

A cluttered study space or schedule can amplify stress. Keep your notes organized and maintain a clear study plan.

Seek Help

If stress becomes unmanageable, consider seeking professional help. Sometimes, an external perspective can offer clarity and coping strategies.

What Are My Options After Completing A-Levels?

Completing your A-levels is a significant milestone, opening doors to myriad opportunities. Whether you are eyeing higher education, diving into the workforce, or taking a gap year, the world is your oyster:

What Should I Do After I Finish A-Levels?

The completion of A-levels marks the beginning of a new chapter. While the most common route is higher education, there are several paths one can embark on:

  • Higher Education
  • Apprenticeships
  • Gap Year
  • Entrepreneurship

Higher Education

Universities globally recognize A-levels, making them a ticket to undergraduate courses worldwide.


For those keen on diving into the professional world, apprenticeships offer a blend of work and study, allowing you to gain practical experience.

Gap Year

Taking a year off to travel, volunteer, or explore personal interests can offer a fresh perspective and clarity about future endeavours.


If you have a business idea or are passionate about a venture, this might be the time to take the entrepreneurial plunge.

What Are The Different Career Options For A-Level Graduates?

A-levels, with their rigorous curriculum, equip students with skills that are valued in various professions:

  • Finance and Banking
  • Science and Research
  • Arts and Media
  • Public Service
Finance And Banking

A strong foundation in Mathematics and Economics can pave the way for roles in banking, investment, and financial analysis.

Science And Research

For those who have pursued Science subjects, careers in research, laboratory work, and even academia are potential avenues.

Arts And Media

A-levels in subjects like English, Art, or Media Studies can lead to careers in journalism, advertising, or even the film industry.

Public Service

With a focus on subjects like History or Sociology, roles in public administration, social work, or even diplomacy can be explored.

Can I Get A Job With A-Levels Without Going To University?

While higher education is a common next step after A-levels, it is not the only option. The skills and knowledge acquired during A-levels can be directly applied in various professions:

  • Technical Roles
  • Sales And Marketing
  • Administrative Roles
Technical Roles 

Jobs in IT, web development, or even certain engineering roles might value the skills over a degree.

Sales And Marketing

With strong communication skills, roles in sales, marketing, or public relations can be pursued.

Administrative Roles

Positions in office administration, human resources, or even event management can be explored based on A-level subjects.

How Can I Find A Job After A-Levels?

Entering the workforce post-A-levels can be both exhilarating and daunting. While the qualification equips you with a robust academic foundation, understanding the job market and aligning your skills with industry demands can be pivotal:

  • Networking
  • Online Job Portals
  • Internships
  • Recruitment Agencies


Engaging with industry professionals, attending job fairs, or joining relevant online groups can open doors to job opportunities and offer insights into industry trends.

Online Job Portals

Websites like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor regularly list job openings. Tailoring your profile and resume to highlight your A-level achievements can be beneficial.


Starting with an internship can offer hands-on experience, helping you understand industry dynamics and potentially leading to full-time roles.

Recruitment Agencies

These agencies can match your skills with potential employers, streamlining the job search process.

What Are The Best Companies To Work For After A-Levels?

The ideal company post A-levels often depend on your subjects and career aspirations. However, certain companies are known for their robust entry-level programs and growth opportunities:

  • Tech Giants
  • Financial Institutions
  • Media Houses
  • Non-Profits
Tech Giants

Companies like Google, Microsoft, or local tech start-ups value skills over degrees and offer roles in IT, development, or digital marketing.

Financial Institutions

Banks and investment firms, given their global operations, regularly  have roles that align with A-level subjects like Mathematics or Economics.

Media Houses

For those with a flair for creativity, media companies or advertising agencies can offer roles in content creation, design, or public relations.


If you are driven by a cause, NGOs or community organizations can be a fulfilling choice, offering roles in outreach, administration, or event management.

What Is The Job Market Like For A-Level Graduates In South Africa?

Understanding the job market dynamics can be instrumental in making informed career decisions post-A-levels:

  • Demand and Supply
  • Skill Recognition
  • Continued Learning
Demand And Supply

Certain industries, like tech or finance, have a higher demand for skills that align with A-level subjects, leading to better job prospects.

Skill Recognition

While A-levels are internationally recognized, it is essential to understand how they are perceived in the South African job market. Engaging with industry professionals can offer clarity.

Continued Learning

The job market is ever-evolving. While A-levels provide a strong foundation, continuous upskilling, be it through short courses or certifications, can enhance job prospects.

The Future Of A-Levels In South Africa

The educational landscape is ever-evolving, and A-levels in South Africa are no exception. With globalization and the increasing recognition of international qualifications, A-levels are poised to play a significant role in the country’s academic future:

How Are A-Levels Evolving In South Africa?

The trajectory of A-levels in South Africa is influenced by various factors, from global educational trends to local industry demands. Understanding these dynamics can offer insights into the future of this esteemed qualification:

Integration with Local Curriculum

Efforts are underway to ensure that A-levels are seamlessly integrated with the South African educational framework, ensuring mutual recognition and equivalence.

Digital Transformation

With the rise of e-learning platforms and digital resources, A-levels are becoming more accessible, allowing students from diverse backgrounds to benefit from this international qualification.

Industry Collaboration

Engagements between A-level institutions and local industries are on the rise, ensuring that the curriculum remains relevant and aligns with job market demands.

What Role Do Online Platforms Play In A-Level Education?

The digital revolution has left no stone unturned, and A-level education in South Africa is a testament to this transformation:

  • Accessibility
  • Flexibility
  • Resource

Online platforms, like Ember Academy, have democratized A-level education, ensuring students from varied geographies and socio-economic backgrounds can benefit.


E-learning offers the advantage of self-paced study, allowing students to tailor their learning journey based on individual needs.

Resource Abundance

From interactive lessons to mock tests, online platforms offer a plethora of resources, enhancing understanding and ensuring holistic preparation.

How Do A-Levels Impact South Africa’s Global Academic Standing?

A-levels, with their international recognition, play a pivotal role in positioning South Africa on the global academic map:

  • International Collaborations
  • Student Mobility
  • Global Recognition

International Collaborations

The recognition of A-levels has paved the way for collaborations between South African institutions and their global counterparts, fostering academic exchanges and research partnerships.

Student Mobility

South African students, armed with A-level qualifications, find it easier to pursue higher education globally, be it in the UK, US, or other international destinations.

Global Recognition

As more students opt for A-levels and excel in global universities, South Africa’s academic prowess is increasingly recognized, enhancing its reputation on the international stage.

In the realm of education, informed choices can be the difference between success and missed opportunities. As A-levels continue to carve a niche for themselves in South Africa, students, educators, and parents need to stay abreast of the latest trends, benefits, and challenges associated with this international qualification. 

Whether you are a student pondering post-matric options or an educator seeking to offer the best to your pupils, we hope this comprehensive guide has provided valuable insights into A-levels in the South African milieu. 

As the world becomes more interconnected, such qualifications not only open doors to global opportunities but also enrich the local academic fabric.

People Also Ask

A-levels in South Africa are offered by the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) Board. The CIE A Level curriculum is split into two parts: AS and A2. AS-Level (4-5 subjects)/A level (2 subjects) is equivalent to grade/year 12 in South Africa. 

A full A level (3 or more subjects) is equivalent to grades/years in the South African educational system. 

In South Africa, AS levels in a given subject are considered to be equivalent to a South African matric by Universities in South Africa.

Year 12 in South Africa is equivalent to Matriculation or Grade 12, which is the final year of high school and the qualification received on graduating from high school.

A-levels, short for Advanced Level, are subject-based qualifications that students in the UK and other countries, including South Africa, can take to gain university entrance or for employment. They are recognized internationally and are divided into two parts: the AS Level and the A2 Level.

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

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