How Many Times Can You Rewrite Matric?

By Tevait Feanle •  Updated: 10/03/23 •  5 min read

While we tend to think of matric only as the exams we write at the end of our Grade 12 year, there are fortunately other ways you can obtain a matric qualification that matches your future academic hopes. While learners over 21 who either don’t have a matric at all or who failed matric can use the ‘adult matric’ system to obtain their qualifications, students younger than 21 can also rewrite their matric (or subjects they failed). This is often colloquially referred to as a ‘matric rewrite’, but is properly called supplementary matric exams. Today we will look at everything you need to know to rewrite matric.

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How Many Times Can You Rewrite Matric?

Technically, there is no limit on the number of times you can rewrite matric. While you are under the age of 21, you will do this by enrolling for supplementary exam sessions. These are offered in the May/June examination sessions every year by the Department of Basic Education. 

Ideally, you should only need to rewrite matric, or the subjects you failed, once- in the May/June session following your original matric session. So if you wrote your Grade 12 matric in October/November of 2023, for example, you can take the supplementary exams (‘rewrite matric’) in May/June of 2024. 

However, you can continue enrolling in the supplementary exams until you will be 21 when writing the exams. If you still have not received a satisfactory result at this point, you will instead use an ‘adult matric’ or matric upgrade to attain your academic goals.

That said, it is important not to simply keep enrolling and failing. It is a waste of both your future and your time and cash. If you are continuously failing to pass matric subjects, you need to dig deep into why, and what you need to do differently to pass. Perhaps you need to find a different academic learning course to help nurture the habits and understanding you need. Or perhaps it is time to shelve the idea of matric you had when you left school, and instead look at other academic options to further your goals. This could be a learnership, where you get practical hands-on job experience and a relevant qualification. Or you might do better with short NQF-level qualifications equivalent to matric (NQF 4 and higher) for which you do qualify. 

What Happens If You Fail Your Matric Rewrite?

If you fail your matric rewrite, you can simply register to write the subjects or whole qualification again in the next supplementary exam session. You can do this until the age of 21. After that, you will instead enroll as an adult matric learner.

You should be aware that supplementary exams(matric rewrites) only let you take the same subjects you initially chose. Once you reach 21 and can look at an adult matric or matric upgrade, you can choose different subjects, although compulsory subjects like home language will still apply. The only subject you will not rewrite for matric is Life Orientation. This is only offered in the Grade 12 year while at school. Luckily, it is not all that important in achieving the type of matric pass you need. Whether you finally achieve the school-leaver’s National Senior Certificate (NSC), or the adult’s equivalent (Senior Certificate (Amended)), is not all that relevant to your academic future. Despite the different names, they are equal qualifications.

How Much Does It Cost To Redo Matric?

You can register and re-register for a matric rewrite through the Department of Basic Education’s online portal for free. They also offer a limited amount of academic support through face-to-face classes and TV/radio broadcasts under the Second Chance Matric program (SCM). These may be enough for you to improve your marks and attain your matric. If this is the case for you, you can redo matric for free.

However, many learners who have previously failed matric exams will need considerably more academic support than these free channels offer. In that case, you may look to one of the matric rewrite or upgrade programs on offer from vocational and other colleges in South Africa. These will not, however, be free. It will cost between R5,000 and R21,000 for one of these programs. This varies depending on the institution, type, and depth of tuition offered, and the length of time you need to prepare to redo matric.

What Is The Difference Between Rewrite And Upgrade in Matric?

With a matric rewrite or supplementary exam, you can rewrite subjects you didn’t pass, but cannot change your choice of subjects. With a matric upgrade, you can choose new subjects and wholly rewrite your matric examinations. You will have the option of either completely replacing your original matric results or combining the best subjects from the two matric certificates you received for the best possible result.

If you failed your matric the first time around, don’t despair! The matric rewrite will help you further your academic goals.

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