History or Geography? A surprise finding…

The Department of Education has released their report on the 2013 National Senior Certificate.  The departmental push for increased bachelor passes as well as increased maths and physical science passes is evident throughout.  SAILI noted in our blog last week, that taking maths does not always help with gaining a matric pass (see our post: Maths or Maths Lit).  However, as a general trend, we are seeing stronger performance in maths and science with the maths pass rate up from 54% to 59.1% and the physical science pass rate up from 61.3% to 67.4%.   Probably the greatest surprise in the report though is the emergence of History as a subject of choice both for those just aiming to pass and also those aiming for distinctions.

History is often pitted against geography as the harder choice for the smarter student.  SAILI analysis of the 2013 results calls this into question.  Results from 2010-2013 show increasing pass rates for both History and Geography with History consistently leading.

% Achieved at 30% or above


2010 2011 2012 2013


69.2 70 75.8 80


75.8 75.9 86 87.1

Between History, Geography and Business Studies, History outperformed at both the 30% and 40% mark with performance weakest in Geography.  In fact 14% MORE students passed History at 40% than those who passed Geography at the same level.  This indicates that History is a subject of choice for students performing at the certificate and diploma pass marks.

However, the History surprises don’t end there.  History also outperformed Geography at the distinction end gaining 51% more distinctions than Geography, putting it on par for distinction performance with Mathematics.  The History or Geography question may still come down to personal choice however for schools looking to improve their Matric pass rate. history rather than geography is the recommended subject.

Click to read the full  Departmental report .


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