The 98.38% pass rate represented a one percent increase over 2009, IEB chief executive Anne Oberholzer said on Tuesday.
This was the second consecutive pass rate increase.
In 2010, 8 285 pupils from 172 schools wrote the IEB National Senior Certificate exam - 153 more than in 2009.
Of those who passed 81.53% qualified for university entry while 14.45% qualified for entry to diploma studies and 2.4% qualified to study at higher certificate level.
"The IEB is proud of the achievements of learners in the schools that write the National Senior Certificate through the IEB.
"These performances reflect the dedication of the teachers to the very important work they do," Oberholzer said.
There was an increase in the number of pupils who wrote mathematics paper three and for the first time, 41 pupils from both state and IEB schools sat the exercise science exam.
"The IEB continues to encourage the development of mathematical competence among learners at its schools.
"Since the inception of the NSC in 2008, participation in mathematics paper three at the IEB has increased by 68.5% from 1 414 candidates in 2008 to 2 383 candidates in 2010."
The IEB in conjunction with the Zenex Foundation, the Anglo-American Chairman's Fund and the University of Pretoria, initiated and oversaw the benchmarking study of the NSC undertaken by UK NARIC, the United Kingdom's national agency responsible for providing information and advice about vocational, academic and professional skills and qualifications from all over the world.
"From that study we have been reassured that the NSC is a qualification with an underlying level that is both robust and fit for the purposes of examining senior secondary school levels.
Comparable to UK GCE
"In terms of the qualification's comparability, the report concludes that the National Senior Certificate at Grade 12 is broadly comparable to the United Kingdom's GCE Advanced Subsidiary (AS-level)," Oberholzer said.
Of the 8 285 candidates, 76 wrote the Combined Abitur-NSC exams offered by the German Schools in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The qualification consists of five subjects assessed by the IEB and seven subjects assessed by the German education authorities.
Those who are successful are recognised by German education authorities for entry to German universities and by the South African education authorities for entry to South African universities.
Of the 76 candidates, 74 passed with entry to tertiary study.
The IEB is an independent assessment agency separate from state and provincial exam boards and the national quality assurance body Umalusi has granted the IEB accreditation for the assessment of the NSC.