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National Senior Certificate

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Our National Senior Certificate Programmes offer you the chance to get your adult matric, rewrite your matric exam, or upgrade your matric results to help you to get a Matric Certificate, if you failed at first, or to improve your current marks.

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The National Senior Certificate is an award that students can achieve after completing their final year of high school (matric). You have to complete grades 8 through 12 in order to achieve this award.

What Is The National Senior Certificate Exam?

Traditionally, the National Senior Certificate is written each year during the matric examinations. Learners that pass with high marks will be able to gain access to university entry, bursaries for their studies, leadership, and even entry-level work. 

Who Can Write The NSC Exam?

Learners who are currently in grade 12 can write these examinations. Learners who have a complete SBA (School Based Assessment) can also write these exams.

When Does The NSC Exam Take Place?

The NSC exam takes place each year from October to December. You will likely receive an exam timetable from your educational institution with all of the details for the course. Alternatively, you can visit the DBE website to view the exams timetable.

How Are NSC Marks Calculated?

The NSC results are calculated by 25% of your internal School-Based Assessments (SBA) and 75% of your final examinations. 

School-Based Assessments

Your School-Based Assessments will consist of:

  • Class tests
  • Oral presentations/speeches
  • Class assignments
  • Trial examinations (preparatory exams)
  • The June examinations

Are Trial Examinations Important?

Yes, trial examinations add to your SBA mark which is used to determine if you are allowed to write the final exams. Trial marks make up around 7% of the SBA mark.

The trial exams are also important to prepare adequately for your final exams. You will see how the questions are asked and, as you will receive results and memos, you can use that to see which subjects and study areas you should work on.

National Senior Certificate Article Infograph

National Senior Certificate Pass Levels

There are four different NSC pass levels:

  • Bachelor’s Degree Pass 
  • Diploma Pass 
  • Higher Certificate Pass 
  • National Senior Certificate Pass

Bachelor’s Degree Pass 

Minimum requirements for this pass level:

  • At least 40% for your Home Language
  • At least 50% in four other subjects
  • At least 30% in two other subjects

This is the minimum entry-level pass for university. The higher your marks are, the better your chance of being accepted into a university will be. Note that you will also have to look at the other application requirements for the university course you want to study.

National Senior Certificate 3

Diploma Pass 

Minimum requirements for this pass level:

  • At least 40% for your Home Language
  • At least 40% in four other subjects
  • At least 30% in two other subjects

Higher Certificate Pass 

Minimum requirements for this pass level:

  • At least 40% for your Home Language
  • At least 40% in two other subjects
  • At least 30% in three other subjects

National Senior Certificate Pass 

Minimum requirements for this pass level:

  • At least 40% for your Home Language
  • At least 40% in two other subjects
  • At least 20% in the remaining subjects

Calculating Your Average Point Score

The Average Point Score (APS) is calculated by taking each subjects’ percentage (excluding Life Orientation) and assigning a score level to each:

  • 80-100% (Distinction) – 7 points
  • 70-79% – 6 points
  • 60-69% – 5 points
  • 50-59% – 4 points
  • 40-49% – 3 points
  • 30-39% – 2 points
  • 0-29% – 1 point

You can calculate your APS to determine whether you meet the requirements for the field you want to study.

Can I Rewrite The National Senior Certificate?

If you are younger than 21, you can rewrite your NSC through the Department of Basic Education. Whether you passed or failed matric, you can rewrite two of your subjects and get a mark that will help you to qualify for the course you want to study.

You can write the Second Chance programme if you:

  • Are under 21 years old
  • Wrote the November exams
  • Failed a subject
  • Could not write the exams for valid reasons (i.e. illness, death in the family, etc.)
  • Have proof of university admission requirements and need to improve a subject to gain university entry


This exam takes place yearly in May or June. You can apply through your high school, or a provincial or district office.

National Senior Certificate 2

After your results are out, you will be awarded a combined certificate that has your best marks. If you do not choose to rewrite the certificate, you can choose to:

  • Remark your paper
  • Recheck your paper
  • View your exam paper

You can apply for these options online through the DBE website.

Remark Your Paper

You can have your exam paper sent to a different examiner to make sure that there are no missed marks on your paper. This includes questions that were not marked or those that were marked incorrectly. This procedure costs R120.

Recheck Your Paper

You can have your exam paper rechecked for R29 to make sure that all of the questions have been marked and that marks are allocated correctly.

View Your Exam Paper

You will only be able to view your paper once you have had it rechecked or remarked. Each subject you want to view will cost R234.

Can I Combine Other Certificates With My NSC?

Yes, you can combine your NSC with other certificates:

Your best marks will be used and results will be issued as a single certificate.

What If I Lost My Matric Certificate?

You can apply for a lost or damaged matric certificate re-issue with:

  • An affidavit stating what happened to the certificate
  • If you did not lose it, you should bring your original certificate
  • A certified copy of your ID
  • Proof of payment (the fee is R141)

How Does Updating Your Matric Certificate Work?

You can apply to update your matric certificate at a DBE office. This is only applicable if your certificate was issued within the past 12 months. 

You must visit one of their offices so that you can explain your situation. If there is proof that your certificate was not updated or that there is an error on the certificate, you will be granted a re-issue. While you wait for the corrections, you will receive a statement of results that you can use as a substitute.

Can I Complete My NSC Online?

No, the traditional matric programme involves face-to-face classes and cannot be done online. You can, however, do an Adult Matric programme at a later stage in life and get your matric certificate online.

You must be 21 years old or older when you write  Adult Matric and you will need a grade 9 certificate. You will be awarded an Amended Senior Certificate which is on the same level as the National Senior Certificate.

Is The NSC Accredited?

Yes, the National Senior Certificate is fully accredited and awarded by Umalusi. Umalusi is a professional accreditation body that ensures quality education.Umalusi also awards and accredits the Amended Senior Certificate as offered by Bellview Institute of Distance Learning.

The Difference Between A National Senior Certificate And An Amended Senior Certificate

The NSC is awarded to students who have passed their matric year. The Amended Senior Certificate is awarded to adults who complete the Adult Matric programme. These two certificates are the same, except for the time frame in which you get your certificate. The programmes of each course are different.

National Senior Certificate Details

  • Awarded after completing high school
  • Focus is on academic knowledge
  • You must finish grade 11 to do your matric
  • You need to be younger than 21 to study matric
  • You can rewrite matric before you turn 21
  • You can gain access to university if you meet all of their requirements
  • The qualification is accredited
  • You need to choose 7 subjects for your studies
  • NQF level 04
  • You can get into an entry-level job with your matric

Amended Senior Certificate Details

  • Awarded upon completing the Adult Matric programme through Distance Learning
  • Focus is on academic knowledge
  • You must have a grade 9 certificate to study the programme
  • You must be 21 or older to write the final matric exam
  • You can rewrite this exam as many times as you need to
  • You can gain access to university if you meet all of their requirements
  • The qualification is accredited
  • You must choose 6 subjects to study
  • NQF level 04
  • You can get into an entry-level job with your matric

Frequently Asked Questions

A National Senior Certificate is the same as a Matric Certificate. This qualification is on an NQF level 04.

The National Senior Certificate is obtained after completing matric. A Senior Certificate is the award obtained for completing the Adult Matric course when you are 21 years old or older.

Both of these awards are regarded as equivalent qualifications. It is only the time in which you complete the course that will be different. Employers and educational bodies will accept both awards as a matric certificate.

A National Senior Certificate opens doors for many new opportunities after completing high school. 

Depending on your results, you will be able to further your studies through Distance Learning or at a university. You will also gain entrance to many entry-level jobs.

Yes, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) is more commonly known/referred to as matric.

No, you cannot. The traditional matric course is completed during high school over the span of 12 months. This excludes the rest of the senior phase (grade 10 and grade 11) that you have to complete before writing matric.

Even if you get your matric through the Adult Matric programme, you will have the option to complete your matric in 12, 24, or 36 months.

You will need the following marks for an NSC pass:

  • Minimum of 40% for your Home Language and two other subjects
  • Minimum of 30% for three other subjects
  • You can fail one of your subjects, even if it is your First Additional Language, but you MUST get a minimum of 30% in the rest of your subjects (a total of 6 subject passes are required)

If you pass your Adult Matric course on the level of a Bachelor’s Degree, you will be able to use your certificate to apply for a university course. Note that neither an NSC or Senior Certificate guarantees university acceptance, you must have the correct subjects, high marks, and meet all of the other university registration requirements.

The National Senior Certificate gives learners more opportunities to pursue their ambitions and thrive in their chosen fields of study.

An Amended Senior Certificate is obtained by people over the age of 21 years old who want to get a Matric Certificate.
A National Senior Certificate is obtained in highschool, at the end of your Matric year.

An Admission Point Score (APS) is a score calculated from your Matric results and is used to determine which courses you are eligible to study for.

To pass Matric and get your National Senior Certificate you need to have passed at least 6 out of 7 subjects.

A Matric Distinction is awarded to learners who achieve an accumulative average of 80%.

An online matric qualification is on an NQF level 04.

Yes, a National Senior Certificate is a Matric Certificate that you receive when you have successfully completed high school.

Author: Karla Nortier
Editor: Garth West
Date Published: December 15, 2021