What Is The Difference Between Matric Rewrite and Matric Upgrade?

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

While it can be exceedingly disappointing to receive bad marks in your matric finals, know that that is not the end of tertiary education dreams. There are several options open to you to improve your matriculation results, and get the marks you deserved all along. Two paths you can consider are the matric rewrite and a matric upgrade. Although they are named very similarly, they are two different options- and here’s everything you need to know about both.

What Is The Difference Between Matric Rewrite and Matric Upgrade?

The key difference between a matric rewrite and a matric upgrade is the age at which you take them. You also have more flexibility with the matric upgrade option than with a matric rewrite, and there is no ‘timeout’ on how late after matric you can do a matric upgrade like there is with the rewrite. 

We will look at the key features of each in greater detail below, so you have a better idea of what each type of matric improvement has to offer.

What does Matric Rewrite Mean?

A matric rewrite, sometimes called a supplementary exam, gives you the chance to retake subjects you either failed, or where you didn’t do as well as your potential suggests. You can only rewrite your matric subjects while you are under 21 years of age, and cannot retake for more than 5 years after your initial exam session. You will also (as the name suggests) only be able to rewrite the same subjects you initially selected for your matric- you cannot swap to other subjects.

As the matric rewrite is offered by the Department of Basic Education itself, it is at a lower cost than the Matric Upgrade. In fact, it’s often free to take the exam. However, to get to the root of why you failed your subject or underperformed in the first place, you may need additional tutoring or support to guide you through the material better.

In some cases, students may even stay back at school for another year to do their matric rewrite, although it is more normal to continue as a graduated student and simply enroll for the examinations at an exam center near you. So unless you have a clear reason for your underperformance (say, for example, a death in the family that you were grieving) and are confident you can do better with self-study and management, you may need to consider a new educational support network to help you perform to your full potential.

What does Matric Upgrade Mean?

A Matric Upgrade is a different path to getting better matric results. For example, if you passed, but didn’t get the results to get into the tertiary education program of your choice. It’s also a way for people who never received a matric in the first place to get one- for example, those who left school after Grade 10 and now wish to further their educational prospects by obtaining their matric. You can only sit the exams for a Matric Upgrade course after you turn 21. However, you can register to study for the Matric Upgrade beforehand, meaning you can enroll anytime after you turn 19. The age limit is just for the exam session itself. 

Matric Upgrades are structured programs offered through a variety of public and private colleges in South Africa. Compulsory subjects will remain, but you can change your elective subjects to better suit your educational strengths, something you cannot do with the Matric Rewrite. For example, you could take Math Literacy instead of Mathematics.

There is no 5-year limit on the Matric Upgrade as there is with the Matric Rewrite, and you can take the course as many times as you would like. However, they are typically pricier than the rewrite option, and will need at least 12 to 24 months to complete through a formal educational program. This has the benefit of providing structure, tuition material, and guidance to you, however.

What Happens if I Upgrade My Matric Results?

If you do a full Matric Upgrade, you can simply choose to use the Senior Certificate you receive in place of your original certificate. You would do this if you retook all 6 subjects and did better in all of them, or if you failed initially but passed this time. However, you also have the option to combine your original matric results and those from your Matric Upgrade if that would give you a better end result.

In effect, this would mean taking the best subject results from the two exam sessions (bearing in mind the compulsory subject requirements needed) and fusing them into one better qualification.

Regardless of the path you choose, once you have your amended Senior Certificate, it will work like any matric. You can apply to educational institutions and pursue your educational dreams based on your final results, not the poorer initial marks.

What Are the Benefits of Rewriting Matric?

The benefit of rewriting matric isn’t just ‘better marks’. Remember that it’s not the marks that count in the end, but what they let you do! With your matric rewrite, you have the chance to perform better in subjects you initially failed or underperformed in.

This could lead to you receiving a higher category of pass (for example, a Bachelor’s Pass rather than a Higher Certificate Pass), and open new educational doors. You can apply to programs that better suit your dreams and goals, or apply for better work opportunities that need higher education. They can also help you access more finance opportunities for your tertiary educational dreams. It’s a second chance at success that will let you shape your future your way- and in the right hands, that can be priceless.

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