Understanding Tertiary Acceptance

Imagine you are on a walk through lots of fenced fields with gates.  You have to go through each gate to get to the next field.  Tertiary acceptance is a lot like this.  It is important to understand the gates, even from as early as grade 9, so that you can make sure you are on the path that is right for you.

Getting on the path:  Generally, to even be on the path to tertiary acceptance, you must gain a Bachelor Pass (code 4/ 50% in FOUR approved subjects).  However there are a few certificate courses that you can do with lower level matric passes.

Gate 1: Subject Choice – Most tertiary courses require particular subjects to be passed at matric level.  For example:

  • If you want to be a doctor you must have maths (not maths literacy) and physics
  • If you want to be an accountant you must have maths (not maths literacy) and at many institutes you must also have accounting.

Gate 2: Marks achieved for required subjects – Not only do you have to study particular subjects at school but you have to achieve particular marks for these subjects.  For example:

  • If you want to apply to UKZN for engineering you will need maths and physics code 6 (70%+) and also English and LO code 4 (50%+)
  • If you want to apply to University of Johannesburg for commerce law you will need maths code 4 (50%) plus English and LO code 5 (60%+)

Gate 3: Admission Point System (APS) – All your matric subjects combine together to give you a University Entrance Score.  Unfortunately each university and university of technology has it’s own way of calculating the scores and you will need to look this up at the institute you are applying to.  For example:

  • If you apply to University of Pretoria, your matric final codes combine to give you one score out of 42. LO is not included.  Each course has a minimum APS.  Social Work, for example is an APS of 30.  This means you need an average of a code 5 (60%+).

Gate 4:  Final Entry – Assuming you applied on time with all the correct paperwork and you made your way safely through the first three gates, you are now at the final gate.  To get through this gate you must be one of the best applications received by the tertiary institute for your chosen course in that year.  For example:

  • 3500 applications come to the University of Stellenbosch for Medicine. 2000 make it through all the gates but they only have 230 places for 1st year medicine students.  This means that 770 applications will be rejected even though the applicants met all the minimum requirements.  (Numbers are made up in this example).  All universities will take the best applicants first although some universities have special consideration for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

All of this might make it sound like getting into tertiary is quite hard.  Fortunately different institutions have different requirements.  In general Universities are the hardest to get into, followed by Universities of Technology.  Colleges are easier to get into and may offer you a place even if you don’t have a Bachelor Pass for your matric.

The better your marks are, the more options you will have for tertiary education.

One final note – If you receive “provisional” or “conditional” acceptance before your matric results are out, it means that the university will offer you a place as long as your matric marks are the same or better than the marks you applied with.

82 replies
  1. Kiwi
    Kiwi says:

    I have completed my matric last year and I have applied at Stellenbosch university for bdc in computer .I received a conditional offer instead of final.y is it conditional not final???

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Conditional means, on the condition that your marks at matric are still as strong as they were on your term 2 report, you will have a definite offer. So it is not final but it is very positive. You can be sure of a place if you maintain your grades.

      Reply
  2. Saskia
    Saskia says:

    I did my matric correspondence and completed it in 2006. I did not do maths or science and I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to write prelims (therefore I did not get those additional marks) Is there ANY WAY that I could study medicine part time?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi Saskia, Medicine is not offered as a part time course and unfortunately there is no way to be admitted to it without maths and physics. If you really have your heart set on medicine you will need to do an adult matric in maths and physics. Kath

      Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi Milly, Medicine applications consider your NBT results, your end of Grade 11 plus one other report and (in most institutes) your extra mural activities including volunteering, community service, leadership, sport and music. It will never just be about your matric grades. Some institutes select before the matric marks come out. In this case you would have to apply NEXT YEAR with your rewrite marks. Others will wait for your marks to come out. The best thing to do will be to phone the admissions at the institute you want to study at and ask if they can manage applications where the learner is rewriting. If you don’t get into medicine, some institutes will allow you to transfer from a BSC as long as you have the right subjects and do extremely well. Kath

      Reply
      • kganya
        kganya says:

        i am also upgrading two subjects and i would like to find out if i send my application to a university during the year and the application gets declined provisionally can the university still consider me when i have written my final exams or does a decline letter imply that the university is not considering you even if i am upgrading

        Reply
        • Kath Morse
          Kath Morse says:

          Hi, They will wait for his matric final marks before making a decision. He should go ahead with the application. He can expect that his marks will continue to improve this year. He can also include his grade 12 results in the applications. All the best, Kath

          Reply
  3. Andiswa Syre Manqeler
    Andiswa Syre Manqeler says:

    I wanna do dental therapy in any of the Universities in Western Cape
    Wat requirements do I need

    Reply
  4. Nsindiso
    Nsindiso says:

    Hi. I did my matric in 2016 and I’ve been Provisionally Accepted for MBChB for the 2019 intake. What does that mean for me?

    I’ve been trying to accept the offer but there are other tabs, “Interest”, which list other programs, but doesn’t allow me to accept the MBChB offer. I’m a lot confused.

    PLEASE HELP.

    Reply
      • Ndamulelo
        Ndamulelo says:

        Hi, I came across your comment and I would like to ask you some questions if you don’t mind, please send me a dm on WhatsApp (0670145742). I am currently in the same stage as you was and talking to someone who’d passed that stage will be really helpful.

        PLEASE

        Reply
    • Nurjahaan
      Nurjahaan says:

      Hi Kath, could you please advice what to do in the event that if my daughter currently being grade 10 has always been passionate about all things medical and always remained hopeful that she’d someday end up there. The entire holidays she’s been dispondent with concern that she might not get physics due her maths mark. He always excelled in maths being her strongest forte but the school had an IT teacher teaching maths (she had trouble understanding with his Xhosa accent) which caused her marks to deteriorate which inturn caused her not to get physics. I’ve taken it up with the principal which was to no avail and was told to uproot her to another school of choice. She really wants to do physics, how can she attain this in order to pursue her dreams?

      Reply
      • Kath Morse
        Kath Morse says:

        Hi, Schools stream learners to give them the best chance of achieving a Bachelor Pass and being able to study further. Your situation is frustrating but you already have all your options. Either your daughter (and you) accept that she is going to be on a different career path or you change her school to a school that will allow her take maths and physics. If she has scored under 50% for maths in Grade 9 then it will be a lot of work for her to learn the Grade 9 work as well as stay on top of the Grade 10 work. Also she will struggle with the Grade 10 content until she has properly mastered the Grade 9 work. Sorry for the bad news. Kath

        Reply
  5. Nsindiso
    Nsindiso says:

    Hi. I did my matric in 2016 and I’ve been Provisionally Accepted for MBChB for the 2019 intake. What does that mean for me?

    I’ve been trying to accept the offer but there are other tabs, “Interest”, which list other programs, but doesn’t allow me to accept the MBChB offer. I’m a lot confused.

    PLEASE HELP..

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Provisionally accepted means: on the condition that your matric results are as strong as your current results, you have a place in the program. This is not a final offer. You will get a final offer after your matric results are released. If the provisional acceptance letter asked you to go to a website and you are struggling, you will need to phone the institute and ask them to help you. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  6. SM
    SM says:

    Good day,

    I matriculated in 1999. But i went on to study Bsc and did Bsc Hons and MSc. I now want to study medicine, but in my matric I got D symbol for Maths and Physics standard grade. What advise would you give me. I have tried to apply before and it seems I am unsuccessful. I did not apply to all institutions though.

    Reply
  7. Dylan
    Dylan says:

    Hi guys, I’ve been provisionally accepted at Stellenbosch University for MBChB (medicine) and one of the conditions of the provisional acceptance is that I get 60% for Maths in my final Maths mark. My current year average for Maths is 61% and theres a possibility that I didn’t done well in my finals which would pull my average down below 60%. So what would happen then if I get like 58% for Maths but then meet all the other conditions of the provisional acceptance??

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi Dylan, Unfortunately you won’t be accepted if you don’t meet each of the individual criterion. However, the chances are good that you will be OK. Most people get small improvements on their matric final marks (due to all that hard work!). If you get slightly under, make sure you get a remark. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  8. Letitia
    Letitia says:

    Good day, I’d just like to know whether an extra subject such as History is included when universities calculate your APS. And how long does it take to get a final acceptance from a university after getting a provincial acceptance at UCT to study audiology.

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Life Orientation is not counted. The university takes your 6 best marks for your APS. So if you did really well in History then it will count instead of one of your other subjects. You still have to meet minimum subject entry requirements for the course, even if that subject doesn’t count in your APS. You should hear from UCT in the next week. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  9. Bubbles
    Bubbles says:

    I’ve been provisionally selected at uni, but I know people who received final feedback saying they are accepted. My matric results are slightly better than grade 11. Do I have hope?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Yes you have hope. As long as your results didn’t go down from end Grade 11 you should receive an offer. Be patient 🙂 All the best, Kath

      Reply
  10. Peter
    Peter says:

    Hi I matriculated in 2016 and managed to get Two distinctions in Maths and Physical Science and 74% average but I didn’t do well in my NBT thus I wasn’t accepted at Wits Medical school but I haven’t lost hope yet I want to know if my Matric results are good enough for me to get accepted into Medical school or do I need to upgrade them together with my NBT marks so that I can be accepted at Medical school.
    If my Matric results are better which Medical school do you prescribe me to apply to so that I can be accepted?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, All medical schools take into account your matric results plus NBTs. Some also award points for personal portfolio. 74% average is on the low side for medicine. You have other options however. You can take a science degree in human physiology and transfer to medicine at the end of first year at Stellenbosch University, UCT or WITS. WITS also have post-grad medicine which you can apply for after your first degree. You need to have biology and maths in your first year subjects but there are no other stipulations. If you email me your matric certificate and NBT results I will be able to give more specific advice. kathsaili@gmail.com All the best, Kath

      Reply
  11. Siyabonga Mhlanga
    Siyabonga Mhlanga says:

    Hi im currently in grade 12 and i study accounting so i wanted to know if i could do medicine in Varsity without having done Life Sciences in high school

    Reply
  12. Nina
    Nina says:

    Hi, my brother is currently in the process of applying to university. And his grade 11 marks unfortunately only just meet the requirements. What do you think his odds are to get provisionally accepted at the north west university? He applied for marketing for which he needs 24 aps and he has 26. He meets the requirements but it’s not that much better than what it has to be. His matric marks so far this year is a lot better. The way i understand it he has to either get accepted or do really well in matric and take a gap year to apply again next year using his matric results? What do you think are the odds of him getting in and when do you think he will hear?

    Do you know of any bridging courses he can take?

    Thank you so much. Really hoping for the best here.

    Reply
  13. Petronella
    Petronella says:

    I completed my matric in 2012 and got provisional acceptance at Cput for 2020. Since i am not upgrading my matric what is the condition for my acceptance to be final

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, I think that if you have provisional then you will be accepted once final offers are made. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  14. Chelsea
    Chelsea says:

    I got conditionally accepted to medicine. If my nsc results do not meet the final criterion but I get the papers remarked and they end up improving to meet the criterion, will they reconsider the application or would I have to wait to reapply next year?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi Chelsea, The remarks don’t come through quickly so you would likely miss out this year. However, if you accept a place in another course at the university you want to study medicine at, they can still contact you in the first week of lectures and invite you to move across. So it depends on timing. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  15. Rose
    Rose says:

    Good day,

    Earlier this year I was provisionally accepted for medicine at UP and Wits. However, as finals draw near I can’t help but fear that my marks will drop. Do you by any chance know how much our APS scores can drop by in our final marks whilst still being able to maintain provisional acceptance at the aforementioned universities? And will an LO mark dropping from the 90 percent range to the 80s contribute to this at all? Thank you in advance for your assistance 🙂

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi Rose, I can honestly say that I never heard of anyone being refused a place after gaining provisional acceptance. You’ve put in a consistent, strong effort to get where you are now, I’m sure it will pay off in the exams. I expect that if your marks dropped below the minimum requirement for your course then you would lose your place. I don’t think that’s likely to happen. All the best with finals. Kath

      Reply
      • Ngakwana
        Ngakwana says:

        Hi my brother is currently in grade 12 and he got an average of 58% for his marks with 60% for both physics and maths which whay was required marks and APS for occupational therapy at Sefako makgatho health sciences University but his admission status is minimum requirement not met, does he still stand a chance if he gets 70% and above, he is confident he is gonna do extremely well come January

        Reply
        • Kath Morse
          Kath Morse says:

          Hi, Sefako Makgatho select based on the end of Grade 11 results only. Maths, Physics, Life Science and English must be all code 4 or better and nothing under code 3. He cannot still get in, even if his matric results are great. If his end of Grade 11 results do meet the minimum APS then he should contact admissions and ask them to explain why his application was rejected. All the best, Kath

          Reply
  16. Shenice
    Shenice says:

    Good day.

    I received my final grade 11 report yesterday and I want to know, when do I apply for the course I want to study?
    Do I go during the holidays or next year?

    I want to study microbiology at Wits, but I’m not sure how it works.
    Are there certain requirements for grade 11 that I have to meet in order to gain provisional acceptance?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Applications open around April next year and you will be able to apply online. There are minimum requirements to be considered for a place but not for provisional acceptance. They will offer you provisional acceptance if your marks are very strong and it looks nearly certain that you would be selected after matric. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  17. vinny
    vinny says:

    Hi V ..

    my daughter have passed grade 11 and her physics is level 3 and other subjects level 5…is she still have chance to be admitted @ medicine faculty…

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Unfortunately no. There is no way to be accepted with Physics code 3. May be she can look at some of the health options at a University of Technology or consider nursing? All the best, Kath

      Reply
  18. Lynne
    Lynne says:

    Hello Kath, for Universities looking at Grade 11 marks do they use the individual subject requirements (eg. Maths, English etc) and the Bachelor’s Pass (4 subjects higher than 50%) to make a provisional offer and then use the Matric APS, NBT’s and final results for final selection or do they simply look at the Grade 11 APS first and individual subject marks to make the provisional decision? My son is way over the requirements for the individual subjects for his course and got the Bachelor’s Pass on his Grade 11 final marks but one subject (which is not a required subject for his course of choice) pulled his Grade 11 APS under 65% (62.5%). So I’m wondering if that will block provisional acceptance. Thanks

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Very few applicants get provisional acceptance and it really isn’t something you should worry about. Universities have their own selection criteria for early offers but generally the applicant would have to meet all the minimum requirements and be either academically outstanding or desirable in terms of creating gender or race equity within the particular course. The offer of provisional acceptance is usually based on two reports. Some universities also wait for NBTs. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  19. naiema jattiem
    naiema jattiem says:

    Hi i was provisionally excepted for bsc but my matric result was not so good so i didnt make rhe minimum requirements does that mean i cant study anything else at the university what is my options i have passed with bachelors

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Unfortunately you will not get into medicine with 33 points. You might want to consider nursing or emergency medical care. All the best, Kath

      Reply
      • Lona
        Lona says:

        Hi I matriculated in 2018 and passed with a bachelor . I am now changing my maths to maths lit this year. Will the university I apply at consider my final matric results from 2018 for admission to the university or the final marks(rewrite) ?

        Reply
        • Kath Morse
          Kath Morse says:

          Hi, Universities will consider rewritten and new subjects however you might need to work at making them recognize your rewrite. When you apply, phone and tell them you are rewriting and ask that they hold of on deciding about your application until you have results. When you have your results, take them into the university and ask them to add the new results to your previous. I do need to say that I don’t think you can write Maths Lit after you have written Maths. If I turn out to be wrong, can you whatsapp me on 061 390 4470? Thanks, Kath

          Reply
  20. Lona
    Lona says:

    When accepting students do universities first consider matriculates then post matriculants students ? Or students who applied first

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, It depends on the university and the department. Some rank all applicants, including post-matrics, and offer places based on the ranking. Others rank within batches of when the applications were received. So there can be some advantage to applying early but it depends where and what course. There is no advantage to being post-matric. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  21. Tshepang
    Tshepang says:

    Hello Kath, I matriculated in 2018 and I’m waiting for the online applications to open so that I can apply to go study. My question is that now that I have my grade 12 marks, does that mean I am still going to get a provisional acceptance if I meet the requirements or will I get final approval/ admission. If not? How long will I have to wait until I get a final admission?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, You will only get provisional acceptance if you have outstanding results, otherwise you will have to wait and see when matric results come out next year. All the best, Kath

      Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, there is no age restriction for applications for medicine. You will be assessed on your matric results, National Benchmark Test (NBT) which you can register for online, and your CV. You must have maths and physics as part of your matric. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  22. Whitney
    Whitney says:

    If I’m pre-enrolled at a tertiary institution .Does that mean I have to wait for tertiary institution to give a final offer for the registration period?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, I’m not sure what “pre-enrolled” means. If you have conditional or provisional acceptance, that means that you will be offered a place on the condition that your final results are as good as your current results. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  23. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    Hi I completed my matruc last year and obtained code4 in mathematics and was as to pass the other subjects very well, but the thing is I wanna do medicine wholeheartedly so I was thinking of going back to school so that I can work obtain better results, will I be making the right choice?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, Have you looked at other options in health? May be you can find a career that suits you and where you can get access with the marks you currently have. It is very unlikely that you will improve maths code 4 to code 6 or 7, which you will need. If you want to give it a try, there is a program at Stellenbosch University called SciMatUs. I suggest you contact them. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  24. Lethabo
    Lethabo says:

    Hi .
    I was provisionally accepted at the University of Johannesburg and I met all the requirements of the qualification I wished to study.
    But then I got an email that my application was not a success .
    I would like to find out why?

    Thank You

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, If both provisional acceptance and the rejection letter have happened in the last month for an application to start in 2021, then I suggest you phone admissions and ask them what is going on. It sounds like a simple admin mistake. If you applied in 2019 to start in 2020 then it is a different story. Provisional acceptance is only confirmed once your matric results are in. Provisional means that as long as your matric marks are as good as they were when you first applied then you should get a place. If your matric marks go down, you may loose the place. If you are still not sure what has happened, you can contact me on whatsapp: 061 390 4470. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  25. Kath Morse
    Kath Morse says:

    Hi, It likely means that they did not pay attention to the fact that you have finished matric. I suggest you phone admissions and draw their attention to it. Otherwise it could be that you meet minimum requirements but they are not sure that you will be one of the top applicants. Remember you have to compete for spaces, not just meet minimum requirements. All the best with your application. If you are NSFAS funded, make sure you apply for a bursary to study engineering as NSFAS will not fund you to change degrees. Kath

    Reply
  26. Palesa
    Palesa says:

    Hey mam I wanted to ask. I did my matric in 2016 but my nbt was low and had only applied at wits and up for medicine , so they both rejected me due to my nbt results. I got 78 for Afrikaans, 65 for English. 79 for maths .81 for life science. 85 for physical science and 85 for accounting. I didnt want to take a gap year so I did Bsc biological science at wits. My final mark was 60% do i stand to get into medicine

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi Palesa, You can apply again this year but they won’t take your BSc marks into consideration, you will just be applying off of your matric results. You will likely find that NBTs are cancelled due to Corona, but check with WITS admissions. You can also complete your current degree then apply to the Graduate Entrance Medical Program (GEMP) at WITS. https://educonnect.co.za/the-backdoor-into-medicine/ All the best, Kath

      Reply
  27. Nompilo moyo
    Nompilo moyo says:

    Hello, I applied to the University of Witwatersrand and got a response that stated ‘Awaiting matric results’. Does this mean I have been accepted?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, It means they haven’t decided and they are going to wait and see how your matric goes. It isn’t bad news. 🙂 Kath

      Reply
  28. Emma
    Emma says:

    I’ve been provisionally accepted for BEng and my friend has been conditionally accepted for BEng, what is the difference?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, As far as I am aware, they both mean the same thing. However if you both applied to the same institute and got these two statuses then you will have to ask them what they mean by it. All the best, Kath

      Reply
  29. Emma
    Emma says:

    Hi, I am currently in matric and looking at taking a physics bridging course next year to apply for the 2022 intake for universities. Will I have to wait until the end of 2021, until I have completed the bridging course, to apply for university? Or will they accept marks that could be considered ‘equivalent’ to grade 11 marks?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, You will apply with the regular 2021 intake. Some universities have a box to tick if you are doing a matric upgrade. Others don’t have a process for it. If the university you are applying to does not have that you will need to call admissions and explain your situation and ask how to proceed with the application. Then when you get your final results you will need to phone again and make sure that they consider your upgrade in making the final decision on whether to offer you a place. All the best on your re-write, Kath

      Reply
  30. Mamello
    Mamello says:

    Hi, I’m currently doing grade 11 and is interested in studying medicine. My maths and physics are both above 85% but my life sciences dropped from 70% to 48%. I’m quite certain that I can bounce back, but my only concern right now is if this inconvenience will not meet the requirements to study medicine?

    Reply
    • Kath Morse
      Kath Morse says:

      Hi, there is no minimum requirement for Life Science, only maths, physics and your overall average. Selection is based on your end of Grade 11 report, your NBTs and your personal portfolio which includes volunteering, leadership and extra mural activities. All the best, Kath

      Reply
    • Lana Baron
      Lana Baron says:

      Hello Luzuko. You would need to submit your final matric certificate to the University and they should accept if your results are the same or better than when you applied. You matriculated in 2018 though, so I am not sure what happens in a specific case like yours. Try this link to check student status at UJ: https://student.uj.ac.za/status.aspx or contact them on +27 (0) 11​ 559 4555 /mylife@uj.ac.za

      All the best, Lana

      Reply
  31. Kath Morse
    Kath Morse says:

    Hi, Please see the UCT prospectus, page 35: http://www.students.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/434/prospective/ug_prospectus/ug_prospectus.pdf However, also note that UCT did not ask students to write the NBTs this year so the only points are coming from school results. I am not sure how they have adjusted entrance criteria to take this into account. You would need to phone UCT admissions to find out. UCT also have three categories for minimum marks – an open category, a category for targeted race or gender and a category for underprivileged learner, based on address, high school, parent income and parent education. All the best, Kath

    Reply

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