Failed Matric? Here Are Your Options

By Tevait Feanle •  Updated: 01/23/24 •  5 min read

Failing matric may feel like a world-ending blow, but it isn’t. While there are still many learnership and job opportunities that will not need a matric at all, failing to complete your final year of school will offer you life setbacks- but there’s plenty you can do to move on from your failure and build a way forward into higher academics and better job positions if you wish. Here are some paths to consider.

Send Your Examination Papers for Either a Remark or a Recheck

If there seems to be a discrepancy between your academic performance so far and the results you received, this is a great first step after failing matric (or a specific subject). If your results were very close to a pass and you failed by only a few points, it is also worth considering this option. If you know you did not perform well on the paper, however, you may want to skip this step and move on to other options.

You can apply to have your examination papers remarked or rechecked. A recheck will simply give the paper another look, ensuring that all sections had a mark and that these marks were correctly tallied. A remark is more in-depth and will reassess everything in the paper with a new marker.

Despite rigorous standards, matric markers handle hundreds of thousands of papers every session, and errors can sneak through. 

Rewrite Your Matric Papers

If you are under 21, you have the right to use supplementary exam sessions to retake papers, or your full matric, if you fail them. Registration for this option will open very shortly after matric results are announced, and typically close by the first few weeks in February. So be sure to get your application in as early as possible. 

The Department of Basic Education runs these exam sessions in June and November of every year. You can choose the session which works best for you.

Upgrade your Matric Result

If you failed your matric a while ago and would like to achieve a matric to further your academic goals, learners over 21 can opt to upgrade their matric result. You will retake matric subjects- either the ones you initially took or new ones you feel you can do better in (for example, math literacy vs math). You will either completely replace your older existing matric with the new one, or combine the results with your highest grades to get the best possible combination of marks. 

Upgraded matrics are not offered through the Department of Education itself. Instead, you will need to apply to a college or tertiary education establishment offering a matric upgrade option. Typically there will be costs involved, but unlike the supplementary exam sessions, new tuition material (and often lectures or online options) are offered to help support you through the matric upgrade process.

Returning to School and Reregistering For Matric (Repeat Matric)

For learners who failed in the very last open matric session, you can also opt to repeat your final year in the school you were attending. Some learners will see this as embarrassing, but you shouldn’t. While your final matric year is seen as your first step into adulthood, you are still a very young person (and a teenager). Not everyone is emotionally or physically prepared for that last step into your new adult life. 

Repeating matric can be a very good way to stay in the safe and structured school system, and rediscover a passion for learning you did not have on your first try. The school structure will be familiar to you and can offer the right learning environment to help you do better this time. 

Registering At Another School To Complete Matric

If you do feel too embarrassed to return to your initial school (although you shouldn’t), you can also opt to re-enroll in a different high school. This could be advantageous if you feel your initial school was unfairly prejudiced against you or did not provide the right type of learning environment or support for your needs. Sometimes all we need is a fresh set of educational material, with different educators, to help make subjects you were struggling with make sense.

Again, you would need to do this the year immediately after you failed your matric. If you have been out of school for several years, you should rather look at the upgraded matric path, which offers a very similar option but tailored for people who may be working and already have experience in the self-management needed to learn at home through evening or part-time classes, and different educational structures.

Completing Matric Via Distance Learning

Distance learning, where you do not attend a school daily, but receive tuition support, materials, and sometimes online classes, is a great option if you fail matric, too. Some institutions now also offer it for learners who have passed Grade 11 but want to leave the formal schooling system for whatever reason, as an alternative to attending in-person classes at your school.

Distance learning is a different experience from the in-school environment. While you still have educators and course material and a set schedule to keep your studies too, you have to be willing to put in the effort to manage yourself. So it isn’t for everyone, especially if you are still expecting outside people to motivate you. However, it is a fantastic way to start learning these adult life skills, as well as studying while working or attending to other life tasks, and can be an excellent fit for a motivated candidate willing to put in the hard work.

As you can see, there are many options to get your matric even if you failed it the first time around- or many years ago. Your journey to academic betterment doesn’t stop here, so take advantage of the best course to help you build your future.

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