South African Matric Pathways @ Home

Compiled  by Hanlie Wentzel on 30 May 2018. Updated 28 September 2020.


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

There are currently 4 pathways to a matric (NQF 4: National Qualifications Framework Level 4) qualification  in South Africa, that I am aware of:

  1. NSC (National Senior Certificate) of the Department of Basic Education.
    • 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 (Standard & Honors Pathways)
    • Equivalent Foreign Secondary Qualification.
    • For University bound students (need to pass the Honors Pathway option).
    • Need to apply for Foreign Conditional Exemption.
    • The Honors American High School Diploma is equivalent to a Cambridge A level.
  3. GED Test
    • South African Matric equivalent.
    • Do not qualify for matric exemption per USAf’s requirements.
  4. Cambridge Certificate
    • Equivalent Foreign Secondary Qualification.
    • For University bound students.
    • Need to apply for  Foreign Conditional Exemption.

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.


How much do I pay for an Exemption Certificate?

The standard application fee for 2018 was R500.00  this will increase to R530.00 on 1 January 2019 and is a non – refundable fee.  The Exemption fee is adjusted annually and the applicants are required to pay the fee applicable for the year.


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 (DBE)

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 (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.

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.

D. American GED test

A GED grade 12 equivalent is an alternative to getting a matric online. 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 simple and cheap 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.

The GED test series, which is currently used internationally, including SA, is a series of four subject tests. Universities in South Africa do not accept the GED qualification – check first at the tertiary institution where your child wants to apply.


1. American High School Diploma: Accredited schools

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  or 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.

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

2. Cambridge Matric Support

There are a number of distance colleges who offer distance tuition and offer tutor support. For more information on this matric pathway and various service providers see: Homeschooling with Cambridge

3. GED Matric Support

#Online GED South Africa

Many high school homeschoolers choose the GED® in South Africa. The GED® homeschool grade 12  equivalent* enables families to continue with their own unique high quality courses of study, until such time as a candidate is old enough and academically ready to start preparing for the GED® tests.In addition, the GED® credential is a high school equivalency* that opens the doors to future opportunities for homeschoolers.

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. 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. There are more than 3 000 test centers worldwide.

The GED tests four subjects:

  1. Mathematical Reasoning
  2. Reasoning Through Language Arts
  3. Social Studies
  4. Science

What is the SAT?

The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test that enables students to show colleges what they know as well as how well they can apply that knowledge. The SAT consists of three major sections:

  • Critical Reading
  • Mathematics
  • Writing

Most students in the USA take the SAT during their grade 11 year and again during their grade 12 year of high school, to improve their scores and almost all colleges and universities in the USA use the SAT to make admission decisions.

Information on the costs involved, see Enroll for GED

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