Decoding the Matric Pass Symbols

You’ve finally received your final matric result, but what exactly do those pesky matric symbols mean? 

After all of the hard work put into the last twelve years of school, you have finally made it to the finish line. Twelve years of waking up at the crack of dawn, spending half of your life in classes and working hard after school. You’ve spent twelve years studying for tests and working on class assignments. You’ve made friends for life and hopefully made decisions about what you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. The final matric result that appears in black and white on your matric report can be the key to your future. It’s important to understand exactly what these matric symbols mean.



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How Exactly is your Final Matric Result Calculated?

  • 25% of your final matric result comes from your Internal School-based Assessments (SBA). This is the mark given to you by your school. It’s made up of all of your class work, assignments, tests and exams done throughout the year. 
  • The other 75% of your final matric result comes from the external final exam (except, of course, for Life Orientation, which is made up entirely of internal assessments)

Here’s what you need to achieve to be able to receive the following pass levels:

Higher Certificate Pass

To gain a higher certificate you will need to:

  • Obtain 40% in your Home Language.
  • At least 40% in two other subjects.
  • You will need to obtain at least 30% for three other subjects. It is important to note that one of your languages must either be English or Afrikaans to qualify for a Higher Certificate.

Diploma Pass

In order to receive a diploma pass, you will need to achieve the following:

  • You must obtain at least 40% for your Home Language.
  • You must obtain at least 40% for four other High Credit (We’ll get to this! Keep reading!) subjects.
  • You will also need to score at least 30% for two other subjects

Bachelors Degree Pass

In order to receive a Bachelors Degree pass, you need to achieve the following: 

  • At least 40% for your Home Language.
  • At least 50% for four other High Credit subjects.
  • And at least 30% for two other subjects.



What These Matric Symbols Mean?

Now that you know all of the different kinds of matric symbols, let’s talk about what each one means and where it can get you.

  • Higher Certificate Pass: This will gain you provisional entrance into any College or certificate course.
  • Diploma Pass: This will gain you provisional entrance into any Technikon or diploma course.
  • Bachelors Degree Pass: This will gain you a provisional entrance into any University or degree course.

It’s important to realise that each of the matric symbols gives you a provisional entrance. Depending on what you would like to study, each course may have their own requirements. What this means, is that if you receive a diploma pass – you can study towards a diploma or a certificate, while achieving a bachelors pass means you will be able to study towards a degree, certificate and diploma.

Still confused? Here is an example.

Meet Lerato. She really wants to study mechanical engineering at UCT (University of Cape Town). Even though she studied as hard as she could and achieved a Bachelors Degree Pass, her pass mark for Mathematics in matric is 60%. This means that even though she has a Bachelors Degree Pass, she won’t be able to study engineering because UCT requires 80% and above in Mathematics for admission.

This is why it is important to know exactly what you would like to study and the matric result you will need to achieve in that particular subject.

Not all Subjects are Rated Equally

This is where things get interesting!

You will need a minimum of seven subjects to obtain your matric certificate. These must include two languages, Life Orientation and either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy. These are your compulsory subjects. This means that you can choose the three remaining subjects from the higher credit OR lower credit subject lists.

Matric subjects are split into two categories:

  • Higher Credit Subjects
  • Lower Credit Subjects

Higher Credit Subjects

Lower Credit Subjects

LanguagesAgricultural Management Practices
AccountingAgricultural Technology
Agricultural ScienceCivil Technology
Business StudiesComputer Applications Technology
Consumer StudiesDance Studies
Dramatic ArtsDesign Studies
EconomicsElectrical Technology
Engineering Graphics & DesignHospitality Studies
GeographyLife Orientation
HistoryMechanical Technology
Information TechnologyTourism
Life Sciences
Mathematical Literacy
Physical Sciences
Religion Studies
Visual Arts



Have you finished matric but your results aren’t good enough to apply for the course you want to pursue? Find out how you can improve your matric subjects and get the marks you need to pursue further education.

You’ve worked hard and persisted until the end to achieve your pass, but it’s important to know that not all passes are equal.

In summary:

  • A Bachelors Pass is a provisional entrance into a university (course dependent).
  • A Diploma Pass will give you a provisional entry into a Technikon/college.
  • A Higher Certificate Pass will give you a provisional entry into a College or certificate course.

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Your future lies out there and waits for you to choose your best path. Don’t be distraught if you did not score the pass symbol you had hoped for. There are many ways to upgrade your marks and you also have the option to do a bridging course or extended degree programme.