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NSC Requirements & Subject combinations- full details

NSC Requirements & Subject combinations

The Independent Examinations Board, or IEB, is a South African independent assessment agency which offers examinations for various client schools, mostly private schools. It is most prominent in setting examinations for the school-leaving National Senior Certificate, or NSC for its client schools


A learner must offer a minimum of seven subjects.

The approved subjects for the NSC Grades 10 – 12 (General) are grouped in two main categories, namely Group A (A1, A2 and A3) and Group B (B1 to B7 and Other Subjects). A learner must select four subjects, i.e. two official languages (at least one at Home Language level), Mathematical Literacy or Mathematics and Life Orientation from Group A and a minimum of any three subjects from Group B. One of the three choice subjects may be selected from the Other Subjects group.


Table A1: Official Languages at Home and First Additional Level


Afrikaans Home Language; Afrikaans First Additional Language; English Home Language; English First Additional Language; IsiXhosa First Additional Language; IsiZulu Home Language; IsiZulu First Additional Language; Sepedi Home Language; Sepedi First Additional Language; Sesotho Home Language; Sesotho First Additional Language; Setswana First Additional Language; Siswati Home Language; Siswati First Additional Language; Xitsonga First Additional Language

Table A2: Mathematical Sciences


Mathematical Literacy; Mathematics

Table A3: Human and Social Studies


Life Orientation


Table B1: Culture and Arts


Dance Studies; Design; Dramatic Arts; Music; Visual Arts

Table B2: Business, Commerce and Management Studies


Accounting; Business Studies; Economics

Table B3: Official Languages at Second Additional Level and Non-Official Languages


Isizulu Second Additional Language; Arabic Second Additional Language; French Second Additional Language; German Home Language; German Second Additional Language; Gujarati Home Language; Gujarati First Additional Language; Hebrew Second Additional Language; Hindi Home Language; Hindi First Additional Language; Italian Second Additional Language; Latin Second Additional Language; Mandarin Second Additional Language; Modern Greek Second Additional Language; Portuguese Home Language; Portuguese Second Additional Language; Serbian Home Language; Serbian Second Additional Language; Spanish Second Additional Language; Tamil Home Language; Tamil First Additional Language; Telegu Home Language; Telegu First Additional Language; Urdu Home Language; Urdu First Additional Language

Table B4: Engineering and Technology


Engineering Graphics and Design

Table B5: Physical, Mathematical, Computer and Life Sciences


Agricultural Management Practice; Agricultural Science; Computer Applications Technology; Information Technology; Life Sciences; Physical Sciences

Table B6: Human and Social Studies


Geography; History; Religion Studies

Table B7: Services


Consumer Studies; Hospitality Studies; Tourism

Other approved subjects


Equine Studies; Maritime Economics; Nautical Science; Sports and Exercise Science

Please note: Associated Board of Royal Schools Practical Music; Trinity College of London Practical Music Examination; Unisa Practical Music Examination may only be offered as an 8th subject

Immigrant candidate
An immigrant candidate may offer only one (1) official language on at least First Additional Language level and obtain a rating of 30% in that language, provided that another subject from Group B is offered in lieu of the one official language that is not offered.

Instead of offering another subject from Group B, an immigrant candidate may offer his or her home language in lieu of that one official language, subject to the following:

  • Such language is listed on Home Language level in Table B3.
  • In the absence of the Home Language of the immigrant in Table B3, such a candidate may offer his or her home language on the A level of the General Certificate of Education (GCE) of the United Kingdom, or an examination recognised by the Department of Education as equivalent to Home Language Level for this purpose.

Information regarding the pass requirements for the National Senior Certificate (NSC)

  1. Specific requirements

Specific institutional and programme needs may have specific language requirements or require appropriate combinations of recognised National Senior Certificate subjects and categories of achievement. Learners must check their results against specific institutional and course requirements for the course of study they wish to follow.

  1. Subject combinations

There are specific subject combination rules for the NSC as part of the 7-subject package

    • Mathematical Literacy may be offered as an 8th subject (in addition to the learner offering MathematicsPhysical Sciences must be offered with Mathematics (Grade 10 in 2017)
    • Sports and Exercise Science must be offered with either Life Sciences or Physical Sciences
    • Consumer Studies may not be offered with Hospitality Studies
    • A learner may not offer two languages from any one of the following language groups:
      • IsiXhosa, isiZulu, SiSwati and isiNdebele;
      • Sepedi, Sesotho and Setswana; and
      • the same language as a Home and as a First or Second Additional Language.

see Also: IEB NSC Registration, Requirements & Results 

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