Matric jargon explained, from MEO to NBT

Ready. Set. Study!
Ready. Set. Study!

Congrats! You and your teen have made it to the big leagues. 

Matric is a special year and marks the beginning of a tough yet rewarding period. 

Aside from the emotions stirred at the thought of our young adults entering their final year of high school, things get even more intense when faced with the need-to-knows that come with the territory of parenting a matriculant. 

If you find yourself reading through things three or four times just to get the gist, there's nothing wrong with you, it can just really be confusing. 

Also see: Matrics 2019: Past papers, study guides and exam tips

Do you find it hard to wrap your head around education lingo? Are there essential terms missing from our glossary? Share your comments with us, and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions welcome!

To remedy this, we've put together a glossary of the often-mentioned and seldom-explained terms that are most likely to come up. 

*We've kept the below quite basic, but be sure to keep visiting the page as we'll be adding to it often.

Who is the authority when it comes to matric exams?

There are different role players, each looking after a specific aspect:

The National Qualifications Framework (NQF)

The NQF is the official system which validates all qualifications (including the National Senior Certificate) in South Africa. The NQF is regulated by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), ensuring that each level of achievement, whether certificate, diploma or degree, is on par with all nationally recognised skills and knowledge. 

Umalusi, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training

Umalusi monitors and verifies the value of all education and training offered in South Africa – including the National Senior Certificate. Guided by the General and Further Education & Training Act and the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act, this authoritative body ensures that education providers meet the required criteria set out in both acts. 

National Examination Board (NEB)

According to the Department of Basic Education, The NEB is "the advisory body, established by the Minister of Basic Education, to advise the Minister on all matters relating to examinations and assessment." 

Also see: Edge app: Download old matric exam papers here

The matric pass:

We explain everything in detail here: What are the NEW matric pass requirements?

In short:

Compulsory subjects 

Of the seven subjects studied in matric, four are compulsory in order to achieve a National Senior Certificate. This includes a Home Language and First Additional Language (in any of our official languages), either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy and Life Orientation. 

Higher certificate pass 

A learner must pass at least 6 out of 7 subjects to meet the requirements of a Higher certificate pass. This pass means that a learner has achieved the minimum requirements for passing matric. Achieving a Higher certificate pass enables a learner to study a professional trade via a TVET college.

There are a number of options available for learners set on improving their marks including: 

  • Rewriting to pass or improve subjects in the subsequent NSC June exams,
  • Taking a bridging course at a TVET college in order to reach a pre-degree/diploma foundation. 

It would then be possible to apply to study at a University of technology. 

For more information on how to improve matric marks, read through: Disappointing matric results? Here are your options

Diploma pass 

Only one subject may be failed in order to achieve a Diploma pass, and a learner will be able to obtain a diploma at a TVET college or University of Technology after matriculating.

Bachelors pass

With a Bachelor's pass, a learner is eligible to study towards a degree at a university, University of technology, TVET college or any accredited Higher Learning Institution in the country. 

Also see: What are the NEW matric pass requirements?


Progressed learner 

These are learners who have failed a grade for the second time and are progressed to the next grade to minimise the dropout rate. 

Prior to being progressed to Grade 12, a learner must have passed a minimum of 4 subjects in Grade 11 (including Life Orientation and the Language of Learning and Teaching), satisfied all School Based Assessment (SBA) requirements in each subject and demonstrated regular school attendance. 

The yearly matric results include two figures: the matric rate including progressed learners, and the matric rate excluding progressed learners.

Multiple Examination Opportunity (MEO)

A supportive measure for progressed learners, this approach allows learners to split their NSC examinations into two separate sessions. These candidates sit for a minimum of three subjects in the November examination, writing the remaining subjects in the following NSC June exams. The MEO option is only available to progressed learners who: 

  • have failed at least three subjects;
  • fulfilled all SBA requirements in seven subjects;
  • sat for the preparatory examination in each subject;
  • maintained regular school attendance.

Getting ready for tertiary studies

The National Benchmark Tests (NBT) 

The purpose of the National Benchmark Tests is to asses how university-ready your child is and consists of two multiple-choice tests. 

Each test is 3 hours long and includes the Academic and Quantitative Literacy (AQL) test, a test of academic literacy and basic mathematical ability, as well as the Mathematics (MAT) test, aimed at assessing a learner's grasp of Core Math concepts.  

Only the AQL test is compulsory for all learners, while the MAT test is taken by learners who plan on studying courses in Engineering and Science at the tertiary level. 

Learners seeking entrance into a tertiary institution are advised to register for the tests at least one month in advance. 

Testing takes places from 11 May 2019 to 4 January 2020 at specific locations across the country.

For more details on the NBTs, read through our Matrics, here’s all you need to know about the 2019 National Benchmark Tests (NBT)

Chat back:

Do you find it hard to wrap your head around educational lingo? Are there essential terms missing from our glossary? Share your comments with us, and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions welcome!

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