National Senior Certificate

The National Senior Certificate or NSC is the equivalent of a high school diploma and is the school-leaving certificate in South Africa.

This certificate is commonly known as the matriculant (matric) certificate, as grade 12 is known as the matriculation grade. The NSC, previously known as the Further Education and Training Certificate or FETC, replaced the Senior Certificate with effect from 2008 and was phased in starting with grade 10 in 2006.

Structure of the Senior Certificate

The school-leaving certificate presently awarded is the Senior Certificate (commonly known as the Matric Certificate). Pupils study at least six subjects, including two compulsory official South African languages – a first and second language – and four elected subjects. Also included as a seventh subject non-optional is Life Orientation.

Subjects are all taken on the same level – there is no higher or standard grade as in the past. The official pass grade is 40%. The mean mark in any subject is usually about 55. Only a small proportion of candidates score an ‘A’ in any subject (from as little as 2% to a maximum of about 10% in subjects taken by highly select groups.) A further 8 – 15% are likely to gain a ‘B’ and about 20 – 25% achieve a ‘C’ grade. The Senior Certificate is a group certificate and records an aggregate mark.

Grading system

A 80 – 100%
B 70 – 79%
C 60 – 69%
D 50 – 59%
E 40 – 49%
F 34 – 39%
FF 30 – 33%
G 20 – 29%
H 0 – 19%

The Department of Education has responsibility for general educational policy to be implemented by nine provincial education departments and private providers such as the Independent Examinations Board (IEB). There are nine provincial examination boards and three independent boards, of which the IEB is the biggest. The IEB operates on a national level catering primarily for independent schools.