Grade 9 subjects

Teacher, parent or learner, here is everything you need to know about choosing Grade 10 subjects.

The time has come. You are in high school and need to decide which subjects you will take. But how do you know which subjects to choose in order to meet all the prerequisites for your future varsity degree? Annique writes about her experience.

As soon as I had the chance in high school, I dropped Maths like a hot, nasty potato and made French one of my main subjects instead (at the German School, this meant that Maths wasn’t part of my final exams). When I made that choice, I was focusing purely on what would get me through Matric and Abitur (the ‘German Matric’), because quite honestly, Maths was the absolute end of me and I was more than happy to neglect it. At that point, I didn’t really think about how this might influence my future university career and my wish to study Psychology, nor was I very proactive in enquiring about it.

When the time came to apply for Psychology, I was told that the only way I’d be accepted is if I did an additional year of Maths, because my Maths mark was so bad (no surprise there…), and Psychology requires Maths for Statistics. I remember that day well, and I just said to myself – well, if that’s the case, I better look for something else to study! Funny enough, this set-back ended up being exactly what I needed…

Grade 9 – Making the Right Choice

In South Africa, each Grade 9 student comes face to face with the decision of choosing specific subjects that they will continue to study until the end of Matric. Like in my case, some scholars base their decision purely on personal interest in or preference of certain subjects, or on how strong they are in them. This choice is, by all means, an option if you are a scholar who is sure that your choice won’t influence your future studies or job in a disadvantageous way – or, if you have no cooking clue what you want to do after school.

For students who plan to go to university and who know exactly what they want to study, the decision is more crucial, as the subjects chosen in high school can have an important, if not essential, impact on your varsity career. If you have a decent idea of what you want to study, then be sure to enquire about the prerequisites for acceptance into the specific degree or university subjects. Do this before you make your choice! Take a look at our EduMatch page.

Subjects, Degrees, and Career Paths

To be able to qualify for your NSC Matric at South African schools in general, you will need 7 subjects in total, and obtain the minimum pass rate for each. 4 of these subjects are compulsory: 1 Home Language, 1 Second Language, Life Orientation and a choice between Pure Maths and Maths Literacy. The remaining 3 are yours to choose!

Pass Rates and Score Allocations

The minimum pass rate for subjects in high school is between 30% and 40%, but this is only to qualify for an NSC Matric! In order to be accepted at a university, you will need to pass certain subjects with much higher marks. To find out the exact minimum percentage you need to get in a specific subject, you need to look up the admissions policies of the university to which you wish to apply – their undergraduate prospectus will tell you exactly what point score (ie. what marks) you need to apply to the various faculties.

Which School Subjects for Which Faculty?

Here’s my advice:  In the table below you can run through a bunch of subjects and check out exactly what career paths these subjects could help you with. But the final choice is YOUR call.

REMEMBER, what you choose in high school DOESN’T determine what career you will find yourself in, but it can help get you into the career you wish to pursue (at least the one you are currently keen on pursuing). In the end, life may take you in a totally different direction, and you may change your mind about what (and if) you want to study and which career is interesting to you.

Subject Group at school (recommended choices in addition to the 4 compulsory subjects)

Field of Study at university


Career Paths    


Human & Social Studies 

(Geography, History, Religious Studies)

  • Humanities subjects (e.g. Languages, Arts, Social Sciences, Psychology, Education, Philosophy, Journalism, Law)

Business, Commerce, & Management Studies

(Accounting, Business Science, Economics)



(Consumer Studies, Hospitality Studies, Tourism)

(FYI, services imply jobs where you help or work for someone, e.g. banking, cleaning, chauffeuring)


  • Tour Operator
  • Chef
  • Hotel or Guesthouse Manager
  • Airline or Cruise Ship Cabin Crew

Arts & Culture 

(Dance Studies, Design, Drama, Visual Arts)

  • Fine Art or Photography
  • Drama & Theatre or Acting
  • Dance
  • Design (e.g. Fashion, Graphics)
  • Fine Artist or Musician
  • Performer or Entertainer
  • Graphic or Fashion Designer
  • Architect

Engineering & Technology 

(Civil Technology, Electrical Technology, Engineering and Graphic Design, Mechanical Technology)

(and Sciences)

  • Engineering (e.g. Mechatronic, Mechanic, Civil, Electronic)


  • Engineer
  • Medical Technologist

Agricultural Science 

(Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural management Practices, Agricultural Technology)

  • Agricultural Studies
  • Farmer
  • Winemaker
  • Nature Conservationist
  • Landscape Engineer

Sciences & IT

(Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Computer Applications, Information Technology)

  • Health and Medical Sciences (e.g. Marine Biology, Physiotherapy, Speech Therapy, Doctor, Psychiatry)
  • Computer Sciences and Technology
  • Physio– or Speech Therapist
  • Doctor or Biologist
  • Engineer
  • Program Developer
  • Software Technician


A Quick Note on Maths Lit…

Before you decide to opt for Maths Lit instead of Pure Maths, it is very important for you to make sure which of the two you will need for your tertiary studies. Most degrees and university studies require Pure Maths. This doesn’t mean that you can’t study if you choose Maths Lit, but it does limit your choices. Make sure to be well-informed about application prerequisites for your desired field of study.


Back to my story… When I realized I couldn’t study psychology, I decided to do a general BA instead, with focus on Film & Media, and various interdisciplinary electives on the side. In 2nd Year I specialized in Screenwriting and after my undergrad, I went on to complete an academic Honours dissertation.

The thing is, my true passion and talents (I say this with humility), are research and writing. It has always been that way. In high school, I won Creative Writing awards and had top essay marks.  So even though I was and still am intrigued by Psychology, I actually ended up studying something that compliments my strengths and talents.

This doesn’t mean it was clever of me to neglect Maths and be ignorant of certain application prerequisites. You should absolutely enquire about these things, as it can be essential to have taken on certain subjects in school. The point I’m trying to make is that even though we have to start thinking about our futures when we choose our subjects in Grade 9, it doesn’t necessarily predetermine anything. You might change your mind completely about what you want to do after school. You might even change your mind during the course of your studies, or have a total and unexpected career change as an adult (no, I’m not implying a mid-life crisis). In our day and age, these things happen all the time, and it’s okay!

Whatever the case may be, do your best in all your subjects, also the ones you don’t like – precisely because you never know when the knowledge you gained might come in handy or pay off.

Some Tips:

  • Before choosing your subjects, talk to a school or career counselor who can assist or advise you. Have a look at an article from a Wits Career Guidance expert at Wits.
  • Try to contact someone in the profession you wish to pursue and ask them about their education and the steps they took to get to where they are
  • Job shadowing! It’s one of the best things you can do to see if your dream job is in fact a dream, or rather a delusion – or… a flat-out nightmare (trust me, this happens, and job shadowing can sometimes make you dodge a bullet)

EduConnect 2cents

We know this can be easier said than done, but study what you love, because chances are it’s exactly what you’re good at. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, and to be truthful to yourself about it.  Don’t choose something that will be a struggle from day one and make you miserable. Ask yourself what you do well, what you enjoy, as well as what stimulates you spiritually and intellectually – then go after it! Have a look at what career options are out in the world here. 

Join the Conversation

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344 thoughts on “Grade 9 – How to choose the Right High School Subjects?”

  1. hi , I’m a grade 10 learner , I’m now at the stage where we are able to change subjects, I’m currently doing Business Studies, Life Science and Computer Applications Technology(we don’t have IT as a subject) , I want to go into IT , I have the option of doing physics but I’m not really fond of the subject ,our school says that Computer application technology does not count after school. What should I do at this stage ?

  2. My name is Toy Bodbijl and I’m a former LS, NS & LO teacher. Presently I am an Environmental Educator, working towards inspiring young people to choose Life Science as a school subject and Biology as a career path through hands-on outdoor lessons. I am very pleased to have stumbled upon your page and must compliment you on the easy-to-understand information and your positive comments to those who inquire. If there is any information you think I could make use, please let me know. Keep up your wonderful dialogue!

    1. Hi Toy,

      Thanks for your wonderful message 🙂 You made our day! We’ll be sending you an email shortly.

    1. Hi Tiffany 🙂

      For you to study Psychology you should definitely think of sticking with Pure Maths. Some other subjects which would be relevant to the field of Psychology is Life Sciences or Physical Sciences. The reason I say this is to open up more opportunities if you ever decide to change your mind or move into a different area of study.

  3. Hi there my name is Tinashe l am wondering which subjects and percentage do l need inoder to study nursing reply

  4. Hi
    I’m doing business sciences.geography.pure maths at school and I’m thinking of becoming a pilot is it possible

  5. hey, my name is LuLibo
    and I’m in grade 9.
    I want to become a doctor, but my science marks are so not good enough!!!
    Just like in march control test I got 58% on NATURAL SCIENCES.
    Ever since I’m getting sad marks on NATURAL…
    I lost hope on becoming a doctor which is so sad.
    But I got interested in history when i received 94% on my report.
    So I don’t know which way I should go next year!
    I’m so confused what subject I should choose.

    1. Hi LuLibo 🙂 Choosing subjects is really difficult. Especially when you excel in one thing but have a desire to take a subject you don’t perform too well in. If you really want to be a doctor then putting the hard work into your science subjects will be worth it in the end. There is no shame in asking for help, so chat to your teacher or to a friend that does well in it to see if they’d like to help you out. If you’re still confused, go chat to your Life Orientation teacher, they should be able to give you some sort of guidance. Otherwise, take a look at this guide for some more help:

    1. Hi Tendai 🙂 You only need to perform well in your languages and in maths (Pure Maths or Maths Lit). However, Visual Arts will definitely help you prepare and help you gain confidence. Try and choose subjects that will give you opportunities if you change your mind – like pure maths, life science, accounting, etc. All the best!

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