Top 10 FAQs About Matric Exams in South Africa

by Staff Reporter

With matric exams looming ahead, you may have loads of questions on your mind that you desperately need the answers to! Don’t stress, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’re going to cover the top 10 most frequently answered questions (FAQs) about matric exams to help you feel more prepared than ever.

Ready? Let’s journey into the top 10 FAQs about matric exams in South Africa.

Table of Contents

matric exams

1. What Are the Matric Exams in South Africa?

Matric exams, short for matriculation examinations, are the final high school examinations in South Africa. They hold great importance as they are equal to the Grade 12 exams in many other countries. 

Successful completion of matric exams is necessary for obtaining a National Senior Certificate (NSC), which is your key to unlocking higher education or even entering the job market.

Want more tips and guidance on how to jumpstart your career? Be sure to check out our Careers page for more information.

2. When Do the Matric Exams Start?

Matric exams typically start in the months of October or November each year. It’s important for learners to keep track of the official examination timetable, as the exact dates may vary slightly from year to year.

For matrics in 2023, exams are set to start with English Home Language, Second Language and First Additional Language on Monday, 30 October 2023.

Wondering what’s in store for the remainder of the year? Don’t worry, we got you covered with our South African School Calendar for 2023.

3. When Do the Matric Exams End?

Matric exams usually end in November or December, depending on which subjects you take. For example, looking at the October/November Examinations Timetable for 2023, learners who are writing CAT and IT will finish much later than all the other learners and are set to finish exams on Wednesday, 6 December.

Then there are the learners who take Music and Dance Studies, who write on the 4th and 5th of December consecutively. Assuming you have not chosen CAT, IT, Music or Dance Studies, you would finish earlier with Afrikaans on Friday, 1 December.

As you can see, it really all depends on the subjects you’ve chosen. It’s therefore important to double, and even triple-check your timetable to ensure you don’t make a mistake and end up missing your exam!

The Department of Education has already released the matric exam calendar for 2023. For more information, be sure to access the matric exam calendar and get an early start on your exam prep.

learner studying for matric exams

4. What is a Bachelor’s Pass in Matric?

To pass matric exams and earn a bachelor’s pass, learners are required to obtain a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with a minimum of 40% in their home language and three other subjects. Additionally, they must achieve at least 30% in two other subjects. 

The above are the general pass requirements for a matric bachelor’s pass, but it is crucial to verify the specific entry requirements of the tertiary institutions you plan to apply to.

5. How Do You Pass Matric Exams With Distinctions?

Distinctions are like academic gold stars. To snatch them, aim for 80% or higher in a subject. Work hard, and those distinctions will shine on your report card! If you need some help raising those marks, don’t worry, we’re here to guide you.

Here are some tips to help you get distinctions for your matric exams:

Set Clear Goals

Set clear, achievable goals for each matric subject. Know what grades you aim to achieve and understand the requirements for distinctions. Having specific targets will motivate you to stay focused throughout the year.

Create a Study Schedule

Organise your study schedule early on. Allocate dedicated time for each subject, considering your strengths and weaknesses. Consistency is key, so stick to your plan and avoid last-minute cramming.

Understand the Exam Format

Familiarise yourself with the format of the matric exams. Know the types of questions, the weighting of different sections and the time allocated for each paper. This understanding will help you allocate your study time effectively.

Study Past Exam Papers

One of the most effective ways to prepare for Matric exams is to practice with past exam papers. Past papers give you a sense of the exam structure and the types of questions asked. Aim to complete as many past papers as possible, focusing on improving your accuracy and speed.

These are only some of our top tips for studying effectively for matric exams. If you’re looking for more guidance, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Studying for Matric Exams.

learners studying for matric exams

6. How Do You Study for Matric Exams?

During matric, you’re given tons and tons of notes during class that you later on need to take home and study for exams. The only problem is, how do you remember it all? Although there’s no magic trick to memorising all your study notes, there are some study tips you can use that will help you retain the information a whole lot better: 

Active Learning

Engage with the material actively rather than passively. This means taking notes, asking questions and discussing the topic with peers or teachers. Actively participating in your learning process helps reinforce your understanding and retention.

Use Multiple Senses

Engage multiple senses while studying. Combine reading with highlighting important text, drawing diagrams, or even listening to relevant audio. The more senses you involve, the stronger your memory connections become.


Create mental images to represent the information you’re studying. Visualising concepts or facts can make them more memorable. If you can see it in your mind’s eye, you’re more likely to remember it.

Teach Others

Teaching is one of the most effective ways to learn and retain information. Explain the topic to a friend, family member or even an imaginary audience. Teaching forces you to solidify your understanding.

Remember, everyone’s learning style is unique. Experiment with these strategies to find what works best for you. Consistency and practice are key to improving your ability to retain information effectively.

learner studying for supplementary matric exams

7. What Happens If You Miss a Matric Exam?

If you happen to miss your final exam, don’t fret. You can get a second chance to write your exams and improve your marks through what’s called a “supplementary exam.” Here’s how it works:

How to Apply for a Supplementary Exam

Applying for those supplementary exams is a breeze. Just follow these simple steps:

Now, it’s time to play the waiting game. Keep an eye on your mailbox for that admission letter. It’ll have all the details you need, like where and when those supplementary exams will take place.

After you’ve applied for the supplementary exam and have been accepted, it’s time to re-take your matric exam. To pass this matic rewrite, you’ve got to score at least 50%. It’s your opportunity to make things right and secure that matric passing grade. So, don’t stress too much, study hard, and give it your best shot!

learner reviewing study material for supplementary matric exams

8. What Happens If I Fail 2 or More Matric Subjects?

Failing a matric subject isn’t the end of your journey. You can rewrite the matric exams and give it another shot. Or, you can explore different paths like adult education programmes or skills training. There’s always a way forward.

One path you can consider taking is an adult matric. An adult matric, also called a Senior Certificate (SC), is a way for adults to continue their education—just like high school grads do with the National Senior Certificate (NSC).

Here’s the deal: both the NSC and SC are at an NQF Level 4. But don’t mix them up, because there is a difference between the two. Let’s break it down:

  • National Senior Certificate (NSC): This one’s the classic way to get your matric. You earn it by going through the usual high school journey and finishing Grade 12.
  • Senior Certificate (SC): This is for adults who couldn’t complete their matric the first time around. It covers the same subjects as the NSC, but here’s the cool part—you can decide how fast or slow you want to complete it (within the educational institution’s allocated time frame). It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure, but for education! Plus, with the adult matric, you only have final exams—no assignments or classwork.

In summary, they’re kind of similar, but not quite. High schoolers graduate early with the National Senior Certificate (NSC), while adults have the flexibility of earning the Senior Certificate (SC) at their own pace. No rush, just your own learning journey!

learners rewriting matric exams

9. Can I Rewrite Matric Exams?

Yes, you can! If you didn’t pass your matric exams the first time, don’t worry. You can definitely have a second chance and rewrite your matric exam. There are a couple of places that offer matric rewrite programmes to help you improve your grades and reach your goals, namely:

Department of Education

If you’re under 21 and want to rewrite your matric, you can apply through the Department of Education’s Second Chance Matric Programme (SCMP). Established in 2016, it gives learners a shot at redoing their matric subjects. 

Completing the SCMP can lead to either a Senior Certificate (SC) or National Senior Certificate (NSC), which is commonly known as your “matric.” 

You’ll find various subjects to choose from for your rewrite, but if you aim for the NSC, you can only redo 1 or 2 subjects, while SC candidates can redo any subject to meet the full requirements for their matric certificate.

Elroi Academy

For those who are looking to do their matric from the comfort of their own home, consider Elroi Academy. They offer distance education from Grade 10 to Grade 12 and specialise in matric rewrites and bridging courses. 

Eligibility for matric rewrites at Elroi Academy falls into two categories: those who completed matric after 2007 can earn a National Senior Certificate (NSC), while those who did so before 2007 qualify for a Senior Certificate (SC).

Matric College

If you’re 21 or older and want another shot at rewriting your matric, consider Matric College. They offer distance learning courses, and their exam centers are registered by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Completing Matric College’s matric rewrite course earns you an accredited matric certificate with a SAQA ID number, a formal recognition that qualifies you at an NQF Level 4.

learner writing down matric exam number

10. How Do You Get Your Matric Exam Number?

Once you’ve finished your matric exams and nabbed your National Senior Certificate (NSC), you can find your exam number at the bottom right corner of your matric certificate. It’s important to keep this number safe as you’ll need it to check your matric results.

Your matric results are essentially the last thing you’ll need to worry about before you start applying to college or university, which comes with its own fair share of worries. The biggest concern most students have is funding their studies.

However, with Fundi by your side, funding your education is possible! To find out more about Fundi and all it has to offer, be sure to check out our article, 3 Ways to Fund Your Tertiary Education in 2024. 

Support Resources Available for Matric Students

Look, matric exams can be nerve-wracking, and we totally get it. But don’t worry; you’re not alone. There are some awesome support resources out there to help you ace those exams and come out on top!


FundiConnect has a range of tools and resources that can help you rock your matric exams! Best part? They’re all free! Whether you’re looking for the latest past exam papers or are in dire need of some tips on how to study, we’ve got the tools you need to help you pass.

To help get you started, here are some awesome resources that will help you get exam-ready:

Matric Live

Matric Live is not just an app; it’s your secret weapon for acing your matric exams. Here’s the scoop:

  • Convenient: You can conveniently practice past exam questions right from your mobile phone. It’s like having a personal exam tutor in your pocket!
  • Free: Yes, you heard it right. The app is absolutely free to download during exam season. It’s the app’s way of saying, “Let’s do this together!”
  • Play: Test your knowledge while competing with friends and other learners from different schools. Who’ll grab that number one spot?
  • Learn: Dive into a treasure trove of past exam questions, lessons and videos covering all your subjects. Learn the material and earn those points!
  • Exam: Step into a live virtual exam environment. Can you conquer all the questions before the clock runs out? Challenge accepted!

Ready to download Matric Live? All you have to do is head over to either Apple iStore or Google Play and hit the download button. Hooray!

learners studying for matric exams together

Grade 12 Past Papers

You’ve probably heard it plenty of times by now, but it’s only because it’s the truth: Studying Grade 12 past papers is the best way to prepare for matric exams! Here are a few tips on how to study from past exam papers in order to get the most out of them:

  • Start off by giving an open-book test a shot, using your old exam papers.
  • Afterward, use those freely available exam answer sheets to check how you did. Pay extra attention to the questions that made you scratch your head.
  • Now, for the tough part—go back and review those tricky topics. Get them locked in your brain.
  • Take another test, but this time, go closed-book. Give yourself a score and see how you’re doing.
  • If you stumble on anything, don’t worry. Just take some extra time to really get the hang of it.
  • Finally, for the grand finale, test yourself one more time with a closed-book exam. But here’s the kicker—time yourself to make it a bit more realistic (as if you’re in a real-life exam environment).

Using the resources and tips above, there’s nothing stopping you from taking your final matric exams head-on. Good luck matrics!

Fund Your Tertiary Education with Fundi

After passing your matric exams, you’ll be entering a whole new chapter of your life as a tertiary student. Navigating this new chapter can be confusing, which is why we’ve made it our mission to offer students as many resources as possible to make student life easier.

From career guidance and study advice to funding information and educational resources, FundiConnect is your one-stop-shop for everything student. And, if you’re in need of funding, the good news! Fundi is here to offer a helping hand. 

Fundi is a leading education finance and fund management specialist that offers study loans to students in need of financial aid.

From tuition fees to textbooks and study devices, Fundi covers a range of educational costs, so that the only thing you have to worry about is navigating your student journey.

Curious to know if you qualify for a Fundi Study Loan? Be sure to give our Fundi Loan Calculator a try!

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