Disappointing matric results? Here are your options

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Disappointing matric results is not the end of life as we know it.

Fathima Razack, Department Head at The Independent Institute of Education (IIE), explains, "The most important thing for both parents and learners having sleepless nights over their results, is to not panic."She continues saying that although both students and parents alike might feel despondent, as long as one keeps a clear head and takes a pragmatic approach, all is not lost.

“If parents and learners can handle this situation maturely and strategise their next steps instead of getting stuck in a catastrophising mindset," she says, " disappointing performance could be just the catalyst needed to propel a learner in a new and better direction, with more determination and resolve than before.”

As such, we've put together a few options for you. You'd be surprised at just how many options you've got.

1. Get a remark

If you feel as though you studied really hard for a particular paper, felt good about it after and then were incredibly disappointed after receiving your results, it might be a good idea to get a remark. While we can’t guarantee your results will improve by much, if at all, it's a worth a try. So this is how you go about getting a remark:

The Department of Basic Education will release the state NSC matric exam results on 22 February 2021. 

Learners will have to apply for a remark (complete re-assessment of your paper) or recheck (re-counting and calculating the marks) and register at either their school or district office in their province to do so. You will also have to pay a fee of R120 for a remark or R29 for a recheck.

The closing date for remarking and rechecking is 10 March 2021 "for both manual applications and for online applications". 

Viewing scripts may only be done after a remark or recheck. The closing date for applications to view your paper is 7 days after the release of the remark or recheck and costs R234.

Further instructions will be provided to students on the reverse side of the Statement of Results.

There are also things you can do to improve your results, like even going back to school before rewriting your exams and then possibly getting into the university of your dreams. Don't give up just yet!

Here are a few other options to consider:

2. Register for supplementary exams

If you marginally missed the requirements to get your Senior Certificate, you can retake the exams provided you meet the following criteria:

  • If you hope to improve your overall result or results for a specific subject, you may redo any number of subjects. This is allowed provided they are the same subjects taken in the previous end-of-year examination.
  • If you are a multiple examinations opportunity (MEO) candidate who has previously elected to write outstanding subjects in the supplementary exams.
  • If you were unable to complete the exam period as a result of being medically unfit.
  • If there was a death in the family and you therefore were unable to write your exam(s).
  • If an irregularity is being investigated, provisional enrolment for supplementary exams may be granted, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  • If you were unable to complete one or more exams due to any other valid reason, provided that a written report is submitted by the principal of the school to the head of the assessment body.

When applying for supplementary exams, documentary proof must be provided for all absenteeism.

On their website, the Department of Basic Education has noted that a closing date for applications for the June NSC supplementary exam is "31 March in the current year". 

Find more information here: Supplementary exams: everything you need to know

Also read: The NEW matric pass requirements: Everything you need to know

3. Consider the Second Chance programme

If you have failed your matric exams, it's not be the end of the world. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga announced the launch of the Second Chance Matric Support programme back in January 2015.

The aim of the programme is to provide FREE support to

  • learners who need to re-write a maximum of 2 subjects; and
  • progressed learners – those who wrote 3 or more subjects in November and will complete the rest in June.

The programme has 4 pillars of support:

Face to Face tuition

  • In all 9 provinces, at 50 venues, mainly in the rural and semi-rural areas.
  • This is only available for those writing in June and November.

Broadcasting Solutions

  • Telematics Broadcasts at selected schools – nationally except GP.
  • Internet Broadcasting Programme (IBP) at selected schools in the Free State.
  • HD Open View Television Broadcasts: Channel 201 at 36 venues, nationally or privately (500 000 households connected).
  • DStv Channel 319, Mindset Television Broadcasts (4.5 Million households connected).
  • SABC Education Geleza Nathi broadcasts weekdays on SABC 1 from 5am to 6am with repeats at 11pm.
  • SABC Education Geleza Nathi YouTube videos.
  • Digital Online Course via internet.

Printed resources

This will be implemented for both supplementary and progressed learners and is available at Face to Face classes or from district offices and DBE Offices. 

Internet resources

  • Candidates will be able to access the internet at teacher centres, community centres, Vodacom Centres, libraries and free Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Online course to support learners.
  • Available throughout the year.
  • Compatible on all devices.
  • Available offline via the CAP at libraries, community centres, and so on (Mzanzi Online Libraries Project).
  • Can be accessed on personal computers or at the 74 Vodacom centres, libraries, community centres, etc.
  • No data costs for Vodacom subscribers utilising the Vodacom e-learning site.

Support is offered in the following subjects:

  • Accounting
  • Agricultural Sciences
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • English First Additional Language
  • Geography
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematical Literacy
  • Physical Sciences
  • Life Sciences

Check out the Department of Basic Education's website to find out more about the Second Chance Programme.

4. Redo some subjects

If you didn’t do well in a subject or a few subjects, you can redo them at particular institutions. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially if you didn’t get into the university of your choice because a few of the subjects you needed for a course didn’t quite cut it.

5. Take a bridging course

Much like redoing your subjects, bridging courses allow you to take short courses to improve your marks and potentially get a pre-degree/diploma foundation which could then help you get into a higher education institute should you wish.

And while many public schools don’t let you return and repeat just a few subjects and do a bridging course, these institutions do:

6. Try an extended degree programme

An extended degree programme is where an institution allows you to study your chosen degree provided you do it over an extended period of time. This usually adds an extra year to your studies. And while some may feel like this is a bad thing, it just means your workload is lighter and slightly more manageable.

Most institutions have these programmes in places for those studying courses from media to accounting and even medicine, to name just a few. So do enquire about them – it might make things a whole lot easier.

7. Reapply for university and use your time wisely before you do 

It may feel like the end of the world when you don't get the results you want or, similarly, you don't get into your dream institution.

Fathima suggests, however, that although you might have had your heart set on a particular institution, it might be a good idea to apply at another institution that could be a better fit for you.

"While your marks may not have been good enough to get access to your first choice of course or institution, that doesn’t mean you have no other study options left. Quite the opposite in fact, so parents and prospective students should ensure that they have really investigated the offerings at both public universities and private higher education institutions."

She explains, "Each university and private higher education provider set their own minimum criteria, and these requirements vary between institutions. An institution where the demand outweighs the availability of space may set this bar quite high, which means they are likely to accept only students who are very strong academically. Other institutions may have made provision for students who require more support, and will therefore have more accommodating admission requirements."

But there are numerous ways you could make the most of your time and explore options before you reapply. You could take a gap year to travel or you could start working and build up some job experience. Again, there are so many options available for you.

To learn more about your options also read:


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