FET College


What Is The Difference Between The IEB And NSC?

Did you know that there is not only one Matric programme you can enrol in? The NSC and IEB are the two Matric programmes we will be looking at. No matter which of these programmes you choose, you will be able to obtain a high-quality Matric certificate at the end of your educational journey.

The only difference is that as a student, you must determine your needs and which programme will give you the most useful skills and knowledge.

What Is The IEB?

The IEB (Independent Examinations Board) is an independent assessment agency with the authority to administer examinations to a wide range of client schools. They use the same CAPS curriculum as the Department of Basic Education, but they add information that they believe will help students develop valuable skills.

Even though the IEB is viewed as more difficult, they still have an average pass rate of between 97% and 98% each year.

What Are The A Levels?

A-levels, or Advance Level Qualifications, are qualifications based on UK standards that are taught to students aged 16 through the end of high school. Students are able to select whatever A-level subjects they want that would be most advantageous to their future studies. They often contain subjects that are not taught in regular South African schools, such as modern foreign languages.

The A-levels are taught not just in UK schools, but the IEB has also adapted several of these A-levels for use in South African schools. The A-levels are designed for students who know exactly what they want to study and what knowledge and skills they want to use to further their careers.

What Are The Benefits Of Studying With The IEB?

The following are some of the advantages of studying for your Matric Certificate with the IEB:

  • You will gain critical thinking abilities that you can use in a variety of situations
  • The IEB will assist you in preparing for the workload you will face while attending college or university
  • You will improve your problem-solving abilities and be encouraged to think of creative solutions to problems
  • Your Matric certificate will allow you to study at an international university or college

Is The IEB Accredited?

Yes, the IEB is an accredited organisation. They are accredited and recognised by the following entities:

  • The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  • National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
  • Umalusi

The IEB Matric Certificate is also recognised internationally by a variety of universities and colleges.

Is The IEB Private Or Government?

The Independent Examination Board (IEB) is not a government agency, they operate separately and is a private assessment board. They offer examinations to a variety of independent schools.

What Is The NSC?

The National Senior Certificate (NSC) is the traditional Matric certificate you will receive after you have completed your grade 12 year in high school. This is the most popular Matric programme in South Africa, with over 600,000 students sitting for the Matric examinations for their NSC each year.

What Are The NSC Levels?

The NSC levels are also known as the Matric pass levels. On your NSC, you can attain one of  these four (4) pass levels:

The table below contains information on how to acquire one of these levels:

Type Of Pass


Bachelor’s Pass

40% in your Home language subject

50% in four (4) other subjects

30% in two (2) other subjects

You are allowed to fail a subject

Diploma Pass

40% in your Home language subject

40% in three (3) other subjects

30% in two (2) other subjects

You are allowed to fail a subject

Higher Certificate Pass

40% in your Home language subject

40% in two (2) other subjects

30% in three (3) other subjects

You are allowed to fail a subject

National Senior Certificate Pass 

40% in your Home language subject

40% in two (2) other subjects

You are allowed to fail a subject

What Curriculum Does The NSC Follow?

When you study an NSC, you will be following the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) curriculum. This curriculum is prescribed for South African students between Grades R and 12. 

Its goal is to offer students information and skills that they can apply in their own lives. This means that the information will be taught in local contexts.

How Does The CAPS Curriculum Work?

Here are some key points about how the CAPS programme works:

  • Each subject has one CAPS document that specifies how the subject should be taught and assessed
  • The CAPS curriculum is highly focused on content
  • The CAPS curriculum is based on the “Foundations for Learning” concepts and emphasises language and mathematics
  • English must be taught from grade 1
  • In the intermediate phase, students must study six (6) subjects
  • Annual assessments are given to students in grades 1 through 9
  • From grade 10 through grade 12, critical assessments are conducted

What Are The Benefits Of Studying A NSC?

Here are some of the benefits of completing an NSC:

  • You will be able to pursue further education
  • When applying for a job, employers will be able to see the competencies of the student on their NSC
  • The NSC assists in transitioning students from education into the workplace
  • You will gain knowledge and skills that can be used to participate in society as a free citizen

Is The NSC Accredited?

Yes, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) is accredited. It is accredited and recognised by:

  • The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)
  • National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
  • Umalusi

Is IEB Better Than NSC?

No, the IEB and NSC should not be compared in terms of which is better. A better method to assess these programmes is to consider your needs as a student first, and then decide which programme will best fit you.

The bottom line is that you will still graduate with a genuine and recognised Matric certificate.

What Other Options Do I Have?

If you do not intend to enrol in the NSC or IEB programmes, you will have other options. They are as follows:

  • Study for a General Education Development (GED) Certificate
  • Enrol for the National Certificate (Vocational) – NC(V)
  • Study courses that do not require a Matric certificate

Author: Esmari Pool
Editor: Esmari Pool
Date Published: November 11, 2022


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