You Failed Your Matric Exams—Now What?

by Shirley Erasmus

South Africa’s matrics of 2022 had a pass rate of 80.1%. This is great news for those who achieved their matric, but what do you do if you find out you are one of the people who failed your matric examsWhat are your options? The good news is that this is, by no means, the end of the road. There are several options available to students who have not passed their matric exams—so don’t despair!

Table of Contents

matric exams

Why Have You Failed Your Matric Exams?

The first step is to analyse the situation before you can decide what to do next. You need to ask yourself: Why exactly have you failed matric or your matric exams? Here are two common reasons:

Failing Your Matric Exams Was Beyond Your Control

Circumstances that are beyond your control are bound to happen, and it’s understandable. Illness and family issues can take their toll on your matric year and prevent you from excelling in your matric exams in many ways. It’s important to be gentle with yourself when these circumstances occur and understand that there is always another option available to you if you failed your matric exams.

You Struggled to Write Your Matric Exams

It is possible that you simply had a lack of interest, or the academic struggles were too overwhelming. Or, perhaps you didn’t study as hard as you should have for your matric exam.

Make sure that you are aware of why you have failed so that you can decide on the next best course of action. If you failed because you did not work hard enough, you will obviously need to adjust your behaviour and try a bit harder. However, if you did not pass matric because you missed your matric exams due to unfortunate or unforeseen circumstances, there are options available for you to explore.

learners researching options after having failed matric exams

What Are Your Options if You Failed Your Matric Exams?

If you failed your matric exams, relax—you still have a number of options available to you. Read on to learn about supplementary exams, re-writes and TVET study options.

1. Supplementary Exams

The supplementary examination in February/March has been phased out and is not available anymore. A new examination is available during May/June where candidates can improve their results or complete outstanding results. The closing date for application is 8 February 2024 the current year.

Entry Requirements for the Supplementary Exams

In order to qualify for the supplementary exams, you need to ensure you meet the below criteria before applying:

  • Candidates can only register for subjects which they were registered for in the previous November examination.
  • Candidates who opt for the multiple examinations opportunity (MEO) option, need to complete the outstanding subjects in the NSC June examination.
  • Candidates who were absent with a valid reason (medical unfit, death in the immediate family or other special reasons*) from one or more external question papers, may register for the NSC June examination.
  • Candidates who want to improve their overall achievement status, or only want to improve the achievement of a subject, may register for the NSC June examination. This includes the MEO candidates.
  • In the case where a candidate was absent for one or more papers in the November exam with a valid reason, the candidate has the choice whether to write only the outstanding papers or all the papers.
  • In a case where an irregularity is being investigated, provisional enrolment for NSC June examination may be granted to the candidate concerned, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  • Candidates who were unable to write or complete one or more of the NSC November examination question papers for reasons other than illness/injury or death in the family, may apply to write the NSC June examination, provided that a written report is submitted by the principal of the school to the Head of the assessment body.
learner writing supplementary exam after failing matric exams

Terms and Conditions of the Supplementary Exams

All candidates who are looking to apply for the supplementary exams in 2024 are encouraged to take note of the following terms and conditions set out by the Department of Education:

  • The supplementary exam will be written at the school where your November matric exams were written or at a centre designated for the supplementary exams.
  • If you feel that your exam has been unfairly marked, and you are certain that if it were re-marked you would achieve a higher result, you can apply and pay a fee towards having your exam paper or papers remarked.
  • If you are not certain that all the questions on your exam paper have been marked, you can apply to have your exam paper/papers rechecked.
  • This means that an examiner will check that all the questions have been marked and all the marks add up to the total.
  • Remember that there is a deadline in which you need to have applied to have your papers remarked or rechecked.  The closing date is 2 February 2024.
  • You will be able to apply for a remark/recheck online.

Candidates Who Do Not Qualify for the Supplementary Exams

Candidates, who do not qualify to write the June NSC examination, have the following options:

How to Apply for a Re-Mark/Re-Check

If you are simply looking to apply for a re-mark and would like someone to take another look at your exams, all you have to do is follow the steps below:

  • Register on the e-Gov portal to create a personal account.
  • You will need to register using your ID number and personal information.
  • Enter the One Time Pin (OTP) that will be sent to you.
  • Login using your username and password that you created.
  • Select e-remark/recheck from the available services.
  • You will be able to select which subjects you would like to remark/recheck.
  • Accept the declaration and then you will be able to receive communication on the status of your request through e-mail.

This is an option for students who may be certain that their matric exams went well and felt confident about the paper. If you discover that the results do not add up or a question was left unmarked, you can apply to have the paper remarked or rechecked.

learner re-doing matric after failing matric exams

2. Re-Do Matric

If you do not qualify for a supplementary exam you may need to consider re-doing the matric year. This is a daunting option to many, since this requires you to re-do the entire year and continue to pay school fees. However, if you are determined to pass Grade 12 and get that certificate, know that at least this may be a possible option!

For students who are unable or unwilling to return to the same school, you should consider private colleges such as Damelin or Abbotts College which allow you to do your matric through correspondence or to attend classes every day.

Another option to consider is the Second Chance Programme. In January 2015, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, launched the Second Chance Matric Support programme. This programme aims to provide support to learners who are rewriting matric subjects in February and March as well as progressed learners (those who wrote 3 or more subjects in November and plan to write the rest in June).

The Second Chance Programme offers 4 main support options:

  • Face to face tuition for those writing in June and November: This is offered in all provinces, mainly in rural and semi-rural areas
  • Support via Broadcasting: This includes HD Open View Television Broadcasts: Channel 201 at 36 venues, nationally or privately (500 000 households connected); DStv Channel 319; SABC Education Geleza Nathi broadcasts weekdays on SABC 1 from 5am to 6am; and SABC Education YouTube videos.
  • Printed resources: Resources include Mind the Gap study guides in 8 of the 11 subjects, past exam papers, study tips and maths and science textbooks.
  • Internet resources: Learners will be able to access the internet at teacher centres, community centres, Vodacom Centres, libraries and free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Support is offered in the following subjects:

  • Accounting
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • English First Additional Language
  • Geography
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematical Literacy
  • Physical Sciences
  • Life Sciences

For more information, check out the Department of Basic Education’s website to find out more about the Second Chance Programme.

learners attending tvet college after failing matric exams

3. TVET Colleges

Another option available to you is to consider vocational training. TVET colleges allow students who have not passed matric exams to receive a vocational or occupational qualification. What this means is that you will receive education and training towards a specific range of jobs or employment possibilities.

There are steps you can take towards achieving your National Senior Certificate, even if you do not achieve it the first time round! Make sure that you speak to your teachers, guardians or parents who will be able to guide you in the right direction, especially if you are not sure how to proceed. 

Fund Your Studies with Fundi

If you have received your matric results and you failed matric, it is certainly not the end of the world. Remember that determination and commitment go a long way to helping you to achieve your goals.

If you have decided to complete your matric and pursue higher education, and are in need of funding, Fundi is here to help! Fundi offers study loans that cover a range of educational costs—from textbooks and tuition fees to accommodation and study devices

Be sure to try out the Fundi Loan Calculator to see if you qualify for a Fundi Study Loan today!

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