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Key dates: What you need to know about the 2021 matric...

South Africa


What you need to know about the 2021 matric exams 

Students listen as Free State MEC for Education, Dr Tate Makgoe encourages them at Kagisho Comprehensive School before they start writing their first exam on 5 November 2020 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Matric exams for 2021 will commence from Wednesday 27 October. (Photo: Gallo Images/Volksblad/Mlungisi Louw)

With 18 days to go before matriculants across the country sit for their final matric exams, the Department of Basic Education held a press briefing on final preparations amid the Covid pandemic on Friday.

When do the exams start?

Matriculants will write their final National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams from Wednesday 27 October and the final exam will be written on Tuesday, 7 December.

Are the learners well-prepared?

Cheryl Weston, curriculum director in the Department of Basic Education, said that an “intensive” programme was launched at the beginning of the year to help learners prepare for their exams. Matrics had an additional 20 days of teaching, with most schools increasing teaching hours, sometimes to as late as 5pm, said Weston. 

Various support programmes have been launched to help learners prepare for their exams. These programmes will conclude a day prior to the final exam being written, said Weston.

How many people will be writing the NSC?

This year 735,677 full-time candidates will be writing, “which is the largest number of candidates since the inception of the NSC,” said Priscilla Ogunbanjo, the director of public exams. 

Usually, about 600,000 full-time candidates write the NSC exams, said Ogunbanjo, although 2020 also saw an increase with 697,226 candidates writing.

162,109 part-time candidates will be writing the exams this year, up from last year which saw 117,808 part-time candidates sitting for the exams.

How many examination centres will there be?

In total, there will be 11,308 examination centres across the country, said Ogunbanjo, with 6,326 in public schools, 526 will be independent centres, 326 will be designated centres and 4,130 will be part-time centres, said Ogunbanjo.

Ogunbanjo said that all examination centres will have strict screening, physical distancing, hand sanitisers and everyone will be wearing masks.

What happens if a learner tests positive for Covid-19 or shows symptoms during the exam?

To accommodate learners who have tested positive for Covid-19, those learners will have to write in isolation rooms at the examination centre, said Ogunbanjo.

Some provincial education departments have designated centres for learners who test positive for Covid-19, Ogunbanjo added.


Marking will start on 8 December and is scheduled to be completed on 22 December, said Ogunbanjo.

Ogunbanjo said that 41,596 markers will be grading the exams at the 194 marking centres across the country.

All marking centres will have a compliance officer, daily screening and will maintain other Covid-19 health protocols. 

In case of a Covid-19 outbreak at any of the marking centres, provincial education departments have arranged backup marking centres.

When will the results be released?

Ogunbanjo said that the results will be released by provinces on 21 January 2022. DM


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