South African Matric Pathways @ Home

Compiled by Hanlie Wentzel and updated 9 February 2023.


Is it possible to get your matric at home? Yes, it is!

There are currently 4 pathways to a matric qualification (school exit)  in South Africa:

  1. NSC (National Senior Certificate) of the Department of Basic Education.
    • Follow the SA (CAPS) National Curriculum.
    • South African High School Diploma OR National Senior Certificate.
    • For University bound students (need to pass with endorsement).
    • Need to apply for Matriculation exemption (if student DID NOT pass with endorsement).
    • NOTE: The IEB exam is also used with some CAPS aligned online service providers and mostly private schools. The IEB uses the South African national curriculum which is regulated by the Department of Basic Education. The IEB NSC is quality assured by Umalusi which is the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education. The IEB NSC is also an internationally bench marked qualification and is equivalent to Cambridge AS level.

2.  American High School Diploma (Vocational, Standard, Honors/College Pathways)

      • Follow the US National Curriculum.
      • Equivalent Foreign Secondary Qualification.
      • For University bound students (need to pass the Honors Pathway/College Prep option).
      • Need to apply for Foreign Conditional Exemption.
      • The Honors American High School Diploma is equivalent to a Cambridge A level.

3. GED Test

    • Follow the US National Curriculum.
    • South African NQF4 Matric equivalent.
    • You do not qualify for matric exemption per USAf’s requirements.
    • You can qualify for matric exemption by doing a Higher Certificate (NQF5) after your GED. 

4. Cambridge Certificate/ Edexcel/ BTEC Diploma 

    • Follow the UK National Curriculum.
    • Equivalent Foreign Secondary Qualification.
    • For University bound students.
    • Need to apply for Foreign Conditional Exemption per USAf requirements.
    • Alternatively you can also do a BTEC National Diploma (Pearson) with a IGCSE English to qualify for a matric with exemption.

MatricPathways to Exemption SA PNG

Here are some examples of reasons why families may choose a specific pathway:

  • Afrikaans families often choose the NSC (CAPS) pathway because it enables you to study in your home language, Afrikaans.
  • The GED option is for neurotypical children that do not necessarily want to pursue a competitive degree at a South African university, e.g. Engineering. It is still recognized as a matric equivalent in South Africa and your child can easily study at an online university, a College or a Technicon. This is also a great, flexible option for neurodivergent children with Autism, PDA, ADHD/ ADD, BPD, learning challenges like Dyscalculia and Dyslexia, as well as children recovering from chronic illness. As well as co-occuring conditions like Depression, Anxiety, GAD, Gender Dysphoria, etc.
  • The American High School Diploma gives you a lot of freedom and a wide variety of interesting subject choices. You can also use an accredited umbrella school in high school and still use the eclectic method to gain the American High School Diploma. The Amercian education system is very homeshool friendly and there are a lot of amazing homeschool curricula choices, as well as accredited online schools available to you as a homeschooler. This is a rigorous, widely recognized and high quality international school leaving certificate that is equivalent to a Cambridge A level matric. Although, this may not be very well known in South Africa and is often confused with the GED.
  • Cambridge is a rigorous and widely recognized international school leaving certificate and this is often the preferred choice for academic children.
  • A BTEC National Diploma is level 3 vocational qualification that is a practical, work related qualification that equips a student with the skills required within a specific work function. High school students now have a credible alternative to an academic matric exemption. A student can now achieve a foreign exemption by completing a BTEC National Diploma and English Language International GCSE level (A-C). These diplomas are available across most industries, from Business to Hospitality, Art and Design to IT, Tourism and Sport. See


All these options can give you matric exemption that is needed to apply for degree studies at a South African University. You just need to comply with USAf’s requirements:

  1. The National Senior Certificate/ IEB: Senior Certificate with endorsement (certain subject choices and scores apply).
  2. The GED (NQF4) plus a Higher Certificate (NQF5).
  3. The American High School Diploma (Honours Pathway/ College Prep) plus 2 AP exams/ SAT/ letter of acceptance from a US university.
  4. Cambridge/ Edexcel: e.g. 4 AS and 1 IGCSE OR 2 A and 3 IGCSE OR 3A and 1 IGCSE (certain subject choices and scores apply).
  5. BTEC National Diploma and English Language GCSE (A-C).

 Keep in mind that tertiary institutions have their own admission requirements, so please check with your institution of choice to see what you will need to apply and qualify for admission to a specific course.


What is a matriculation exemption?

A matriculation exemption is a legal requirement for first-degree study at a South African university.

  • Foreign students wishing to register for first-degree studies in South Africa must have their school qualifications evaluated by the Matriculation Board that will then issue a certificate of exemption to those who qualify.
  • South African students who did not pass Senior Certificate with endorsement are required by law to apply for a matriculation exemption through the Matriculation Board.

Foreign Secondary Qualifications – South African Universities

See this detailed article with all the information you will need to apply to a South African University with a Foreign Secondary Qualification, written by Ashley, on 8 April 2019:

“A certificate of exemption is issued on application to prospective students who have obtained a Senior Certificate without endorsement or equivalent foreign school-leaving qualification, who meets the requirements of the published regulations and wishes to pursue first degree studies at a South African university”. 

How do I Apply for an Exemption Certificate?

You need to get hold of the M30e form which is obtainable from:

a)  Admissions Offices of universities or
b)  Download it from the Matriculation Board website or
c)  Request it via e-mail addressed to: or
d)  Request that the form be faxed to you.

If I’m not sure whether I’ll Qualify for Exemption or not, what do I do?

Visit the online assessment and application page and follow the instructions.

NB: Some universities will admit you into their institution before you have applied for your matric exemption. They will leave the process up to you to do before it comes time to graduate. If you are not cleared or do not apply, you won’t graduate.

Eunoia Decision Tree

Here are more detailed information on the different Matric Pathways. Children have different needs and you need to choose the option that will be the best fit for your child. If your child wants to pursue tertiary studies – or you want to make that option at least available for your child – make sure that you choose the correct Matric Pathway from the start. Most Matric Pathways require that you start on that pathway from grade 9 (American High School Diploma) or grade 10 (NSC and Cambridge).

A. National Senior Certificate (CAPS)

The National Senior Certificate or NSC is a high school diploma and is the Department of Basic Education ‘s school-leaving certificate in South Africa. This certificate is commonly known as the matriculation  (matric) certificate, as grade 12 is the matriculation grade. Pupils study at least seven subjects, including two compulsory official South African languages, either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy, Life Orientation and three elective subjects. NSC is a three-year program (Grades 10, 11, and 12) and your child has to have passed Grades 10 and 11 to get into Grade 12.

Once your child is in Grade 12, he or she has to first submit portfolios of the year’s work in each subject because there is a year mark as well as an exam mark. The problem you have here as a homeschooler is that the Department of Basic Education will not allow you to send your child’s portfolio to the nearest school to be marked.

At the barest minimum, you need to register with a private organisation that is accredited to mark the portfolio and other assessments. Organisations like Impaq Education , Brainline Distance Education , Hatfield Christian Online School and  Alpha Education  offer these services. You will have to pay examination fees and assorted other costs. These organizations also offer study guides, workbooks, portfolio books, electronic downloads, videos, facilitator guides for you, a suggested timetable, lesson guidance and explanations.


If you prefer to write the matric exam through the Department of Basic Education, rather than the IEB or SACAI, then you can enroll your child in a correspondence college like INTEC or Damelin Correspondence . Intec or Damelin will provide the curriculum, set and mark the continuous assessments and then your child will write the DBE matric examination. One of the advantages of Intec and Damelin is that they will offer you massive choices in subjects, ranging from academic to technical and vocational, as well as flexible study options.

B. American High School Diploma (Vocational, Standard & Honors Pathways)

An American High School Diploma is one of the options for South African high school homeschool students to get a matric certificate with university exemption, if you do the Honors Diploma.

You can choose between 2 Matric Pathways: a Standard Diploma (for Non-University bound graduates) or a Honors Diploma (for University bound graduates). For this secondary qualification, you will need to apply for a matric exemption. See this excellent and detailed article on The American High School Diploma as a SA school leaving certificate  from the Facebook Group: Homeschooling in SA toward an American High School Diploma

For your Diploma to be accredited, you need to enroll in an online school/ virtual school/ umbrella school that is accredited. See below info on accredited service providers. An abundance of accredited service providers is available. With service delivery being important in a competitive US market, an adviser is typically allocated to your student and his/her family, who will guide you through the course selection process to reach your educational goals. You will furthermore be (pleasantly) surprised at the number and nature of courses offered.

Virtual Schools will typically provide the curriculum, albeit with your choice on core and elective subjects. Consider or similar sites, and SAVS with South African based teachers.

Umbrella Schools on the other hand offer more flexibility, where you may use their curriculum, or do an eclectic approach where you choose your courses and have a degree of freedom in meeting the regional Diploma requirements. Consider Bridgeway Academy, Homelife Academy

Online schools: some providers are very flexible, and you can enroll anytime, do your work from anywhere and at anytime through the academic year. Some may be more restricted with enrollment time, require class attendance, or has a fixed assignment/test schedule. Obtain also clarity on their transfer policy for completed courses, and the number of courses a student is allowed to take annually. In determining the value of an online high school program, you will want to consider the following: rate of successful program completion, ease of communication with the school and with teachers, flexibility and delivery of classes, counseling and tutoring services, individualized programming, availability of specialization (engineering, religion, arts, etc.), dual credit offerings, and extracurricular activities or clubs.

Here are a few of the accredited service providers homeschoolers in South Africa are using. They are recognized by USAf for matric exemption. Some are located in South Africa and others are in the US but available to international students through online/distance learning.

  1. Acellus Academy (US based accredited online school)
  2. South African Virtual School (SA based and affiliated with Florida Virtual School for accreditation)
  3. Active Academy & Pure Life Academy (both based in SA and affiliated with SwitchedOn Education for accreditation.)
  4. Bridgeway Academy (US based Umbrella School)
  5. Home Life Academy (US based Umbrella School)
  6. Kairos Academy SA (SA based and affiliated with Home Life Academy for accreditation, by Annerine Wenhold.)
  7. Diversio Learning Academy (SA based and affiliated with Home Life Academy for accreditation, by Stephane Burger)
  8. Edu8 (SA based and affiliated with Acellus Academy for accreditation.)

See this list of The 50 Best Online High School Diploma Programs:

For more detailed information on this matric pathway see: The American High School Diploma

C. Cambridge Matric

Cambridge matric is one of the options for South African high school homeschool students to get a matric certificate with university exemption. Cambridge Assessment International Education is part of Cambridge Assessment, Europe’s largest assessment agency and a department of the University of Cambridge. The curriculum is highly rated across the world because of its emphasis on deep engagement.

In South Africa most students do two courses: IGCSE (grade 10 – 11) takes 18 months – 2 years to complete and is for students from 14 – 16 years of age. This is the same as grades 10 and 11 in local schools although the subject content is different. Your student will take 7 subjects on this level.

Following this, South African high school students do the AS Levels (grade 12) normally from about 16 – 19 years of age. This is also an 18 month – 2 year course and is the equivalent of Grade 12 in South Africa and is recognized by the South African Matriculation Board as the equivalent of Senior Certificate subjects (NQF4) passed at the Higher Grade, which is a necessary requirement for University Entrance. Your student will take 5 subjects on this level.

A levels is optional. To achieve the equivalents of  A Levels the South African student needs to complete a Grade 13, but most students do not take this option as it is not necessary for matric exemption and university exemption. The Full A-Level course is only required for students wishing to enroll at an International University that requires this qualification. It is incumbent on the student to ascertain from the tertiary faculty for course entrance requirements. In many respects only the AS-Level is needed.

There are a number of distance colleges who offer distance tuition and offer tutor support.

Tutor Support

There are a number of Distance Colleges / Online Schools / Virtual Schools that offer distance education and tuition, such as:

For more information on this matric pathway and various service providers see: Homeschooling with Cambridge

D. American GED

A GED grade 12 equivalent is an alternative to getting a South African matric qualification. The GED (General Equivalency Diploma) does not have the status or the intellectual depth of Cambridge or the American High School Diploma, but if you are looking for a simpler and more affordable way for your child to exit school with a matric level qualification, then it will work. The South African Qualifications Authority has evaluated the GED at the NSC level and it is accepted South Africa as a NQF4 matric equivalent (without exemption).

The GED® test consists of four subjects which you can book to write on different days:

1. Reasoning through Language Arts – 150 minutes (including a 10-minute break)
2. Mathematical Reasoning – 90 minutes
3. Science – 90 minutes
4. Social Studies – 90 minutes

What Must Your Child to do Before the GED?

Many parents with children younger than 15 or 16 ask what they should do before the GED. Since there is no prescribed curriculum to follow to prepare for the GED you can give your children a unique, customized education and let them pursue whatever interests them. However, since the GED tests four subjects, it makes sense to encourage your children to develop their skills in those subjects. You could follow an eclectic approach to homeschooling and use a variety of American (US national curriculum) resources, curricula and service providers. This article has some recommendations of homeschool curricula for younger children, which they recommend for this purpose: What to Do Before the GED®

The GED tests can be written at 38 test centers in South Africa. You would usually enroll your child with a GED Test Prep service provider to make sure that they master the content of the GED exams. South African GED Test Prep service providers (usually as a grade 12 year):

For more information on how to homeschool with the GED as a school exit see:

Update received on 12 September 2018 regarding FOREIGN CONDITIONAL EXEMPTION for South African with a GED®

The GED is still recognized as a foreign grade 12 option by SAQA.*
USAf has confirmed in writing that they will not consider applications for foreign conditional exemption from South African-based holders of the GED® who

a. Register for, or begin work on the GED® after the end of 2018. (This will allow people currently enrolled for the GED® to complete the credential, seek admission to a foreign university and apply to the Matriculation Board for foreign conditional exemption. It will however, mean that this route will be closed to new South African GED® candidates); or

b. Obtain the GED® credential after December 2019.
This means that the GED is still recognized as a foreign grade 12 equivalent but that FOREIGN EXEMPTION will not be issued to South Africans anymore as from the end of December 2019.

This means that after that date, South Africans with a GED® who wish to apply for a DEGREE course at a university, will have to qualify for one of the OTHER CATEGORIES of exemption. Students wishing to apply for Diploma courses and Higher Certificate courses at SA colleges do not require exemption and should be accepted with a GED®.


Sourced from:

  5. Wayne. “How to get a matric at home.”, THE POST / 1 February 2018 at 3:00pm. Web. Accessed: 30 May 2018