Matric Pass Symbols, Levels and Meanings

The beginning of the year marks a crucial time in the lives of high school leavers as their matric results can be the key to them achieving the bright future they have been planning all along. Before planning for the future, high school students need to understand the meaning of the matric certificate symbols and levels. This is important as many people believe that one only needs to score 30 percent to pass matric and be awarded the National Senior Certificate (NSC). This is not entirely true as there are minimum subjects requirements (matric symbols) a student needs to have before being awarded the NSC.

Beyond the National Senior Certificate pass, other matric pass levels give students provisional acceptance into a specific study programme. It is noteworthy that even though each of the matric pass levels (H, D, and B) gives a provisional entrance into higher learning education, the course of study has varying requirements in the tertiary institutions across Mzansi. In most cases, the institutions use the Admission Point Score (APS), determined by the matric result. Following the release of the 2021/2022 matric results by the Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, on January 21st, 2022, here are the meanings of the matric pass symbols and levels on your matric certificate.

What are The Percentages for Various Matric Symbols?

For the matric exam, a minimum of seven subjects is required. A student is expected to score at least 40 percent in all the subjects to gain a provision entry into higher institutions as the average pass mark for most courses in the country is 40 percent. That said, below are the percentages for the various matric symbols.

Matric Certificate Symbols Mark Percentage Achievement Level Achievement Description
A+ 80 – 100% Level 7 Outstanding
A 70 – 79% Level 6 Meritorious
B 60 – 69% Level 5 Substantial
C 50 – 59% Level 4 Moderate
D 40 – 49% Level 3 Adequate
E 30 – 39% Level 2 Elementary
F 0 – 29% Level 1 Not Achieved

How Are Matric Results Calculated?

As students’ final matric marks significantly count towards the determination of their future, a student must know how the final matric marks are calculated to know how to perform in advance and be able to challenge any mark that may seem to be incorrectly calculated. The results are calculated using the seven subjects (including compulsory, high credits, and low credit subjects) chosen for Grade 9. The final marks determine the matric pass symbols a student obtains. Thus a matric result is calculated as follows:

  • The results are divided between 25 percent and 75 percent assessment criteria, making them up to 100 percent.
  • 25 percent of assessment criteria are for School-Based Assessments (SBA). They include the projects, tests, and assignments performed by students over the first three quarters of the year before the final examinations.
  • Then 75 percent represents each matric subject’s final examination mark.
Matric symbols and levels
(Image Source)

The Different Types of Matric Pass Levels in South Africa

There are four matric pass levels in Mzansi. They include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree Pass (B)
  • Diploma Pass (D)
  • Higher Certificate Pass (H)
  • National Senior Certificate Pass

The Meanings of The Matric Pass Levels and Their Requirements

National Senior Certificate Pass

This is the minimum achievement a student needs to pass a matric exam. The requirements to attain the National Senior Certificate matric pass level are as follows:

  • A student must score 40 percent in Home Language.
  • Must score at least 40 percent in two other subjects.
  • Must score at least 30 percent in three other subjects.

Note: A student can still obtain the National Senior Certificate Pass level even they fail one subject, including First Additional Language.

Higher Certificate Pass (H)

With the higher certificate pass level, a student qualifies to gain a provisional entrance into college or certificate course. The requirements for this matric pass level include:

  • A score of 40 percent in Home Language.
  • A score of at least 40 percent in two other subjects.
  • A score of at least 30 percent in three other subjects.

Note: To obtain the higher certificate pass level, a student must score at least 30 per cent in either English Language or Afrikaans as they are the language of teaching and learning at higher institutions.

Diploma Pass (D)

Diploma matric pass level ensures that a student gains provisional entry into any university of technology or diploma course. To obtain this matric pass level, a student is required to:

  • Score 40 per cent in Home Language.
  • Score at least 40 per cent in three other high credit subjects.
  • Score at least 30 percent in three other subjects

Note: A student must score at least 30 per cent in either English Language or Afrikaans to obtain the diploma pass level. They are the language of teaching and learning at higher institutions.

Bachelor’s Degree Pass (B)

This is the highest matric pass level in South Africa. It gives students provisional entrance into any university or degree course. For the Bachelor’s Degree pass level, one must obtain the following:

  • Score 40 per cent in Home Language.
  • Score at least 50 percent in four other high credit subjects.
  • Score at least 30 percent in two other subjects

Note: To achieve the Bachelor’s Degree pass level, a student must score at least 30 per cent in the language of teaching and learning at tertiary institutions – English Language or Afrikaans.

What is The Significance of APS?

APS, which stands for Admission Point Scores, are the marks calculated from students’ final matric results. These marks help to determine whether a student qualifies for admission into college or university. The APS also determines the course a student studies in the tertiary institution, as each university has its entry requirement which differs from the entry requirements for the various courses they offer.

Hence, students need to research the university or college they would like to attend and the requirements for the courses they offer as one may gain entry into a university and end up not studying the particular course they have in mind.

What are APS Points?

The APS points differ from the secondary school grading levels, and they are as follows:

Marks (%) APS Points
80 – 100% 7
70 – 79% 6
60 – 69% 5
50 – 59% 4
40 – 49% 3
30 – 39% 2
0 – 29% 1

The APS Requirements for National Senior Certificate Pass are:

  • APS total points of 14
  • Admission point score of at least 3 in Home Language
  • Admission point score of at least 3 in other two subjects
  • Admission point score of 2 in four other subjects

The APS Requirements for Higher Certificate Pass

  • APS total points of 15
  • Admission point score of 3 in Home Language
  • Admission point score of 3 in other two subjects
  • Admission point score of 2 in three other subjects

The APS Requirements for Diploma Pass

  • APS total points of 19
  • Admission point score of 3 in Home Language
  • Admission point score of 3 in other four high credit subjects
  • Admission point score of 2 in two other subjects

The APS Requirements for Bachelor’s Degree Pass

  • APS total points of 23
  • Admission point score of 4 in four high credit subjects
  • Admission point score of 3 in Home Language
  • Admission point score of 2 in two other subjects
Christel House students celebrating their matric results (Image Source)

Frequently Asked Questions About Matric Symbols

As several universities in the country follow a grading model based on the British system, high school graduates often get confused about how their matric result percentages are being calibrated in diverse tertiary institutions. Below are the frequently asked questions about matric pass symbols and their answers.

1. What is a Distinction Pass in Matric?

80% to 100% (A+) are good marks to score in NSC and are rated as an outstanding achievement. In most universities, 75% and above are considered a first-class pass while some like the University of Witwatersrand consider 75% and above as an A.

2. What Does Symbol A Mean in Matric Results? 

Symbol A, which falls under 70% to 79% marks, is a meritorious achievement level in the NSC. It is equally a division one pass in some universities in the country.

3. What Does Symbol C Mean in Matric Results?

A moderate achievement level, matric symbol C with marks of 50% to 59%, is considered a third division pass in the university.

4. What Can I do If I fail Matric?

If a student fails matric, there are many alternatives to choose from. They include:

  • Go for a remark to check if your exam papers were marked correctly.
  • Rewrite the matric exam in your old school or another school.
  • Study courses that need no matric result at some colleges like Bellview Institute of Distance Learning, Matric College, and Skills Academy. These courses will help you build a pre-diploma/degree foundation.
  • Study certificate course at FET (Further Education and Training) accredited colleges.
  • Register for Adult matric, a distance learning programme offered by Matric College.

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