Supplementary Exam: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re a 2018 Matriculant looking to be accepted into a tertiary institution or hoping to become employed, passing Matric and receiving your certificate is one of the essentials. However, due to various circumstances, Matric exams may have been an overwhelming struggle for you, resulting in you not meeting the minimum requirements to pass Grade 12 and step into your planned future. But all is not lost – you may qualify for a supplementary exam (now called a second national exam), allowing you a second chance to pass your failed subject/s.

Supplementary exam vs Rewriting your Matric

If you didn’t get the results you were hoping for in Matric, you qualify to write a second national exam (previously called supplementary exams) in the year immediately after your Matric final. You can also re-enroll for your Matric year, and retake the end of year exams, up to 5 years after you completed Matric. If you Matriculated more than 5 years ago, you can apply for an Amended Senior Certificate. All second national exams (for supplementary exams and Amended Senior certificate exams) will now be written in June, while re-enrolling in Matric will mean you take all Matric exams again (mid-year, prelims and finals at the end of the year).

Do I qualify to write a supplementary exam?

According to the Department of Education you qualify for a supplementary exam:

  • If you did not pass Grade 12 but need to pass 2 subjects to obtain your NSC. You can register to retake any number of subjects for your supplementary exam. However, you need to have written these subjects during their final year exam.
  • If you were medically unfit or had another special reason for being absent for an exam.
  • In the instance of a death in your immediate family, you may register for the supplementary examination.
  • If you provide evidence that you qualify for admission to a higher education institution/occupation but do not satisfy the requirements, or if you are one requirement short in meeting the minimum admission requirements for higher certificate, diploma and bachelor degree programs, you can register for supplementary exams. 
  • In a case where an irregularity is being investigated, provisional enrollment for supplementary examination may be granted, pending the outcome of the investigation.
  • If you were unable to write or complete one or more of the National Senior Certificate examination question papers for reasons other than illness or injury. The school principal will need to submit a report to the Head of the assessment body.

How do I register for a supplementary exam?

  1. Contact the Department of Education, via your school.
  2. Applications will close in January 2020. But avoid any further stress and register as soon as possible, after receiving your results.

The supplementary examinations usually take place in June 2020, however, the 2020 dates have not yet been finalized, so keep an eye on the media releases posted on the Department of Education website, as well as updates posted via our BrightSparkzSA Twitter page and BrightSparkz Tutors Facebook page.



03 JANUARY 2019 at Midnight


04 JANUARY 2019 at Midnight


05 JANUARY 2019 at Midnight

Individual results available at schools and


If you’d like to receive an instant Email or SMS as soon as your results are released, sign up via the eNCA website – the official partners of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) for 2019 Matric results.

*For answers to other frequently asked questions about supplementary exams, visit:

How do I prepare for my supplementary exam?

  • Past Exam Papers

Past exam papers are some of the best form of revision. Get access to a number of papers for various subjects via YOU Online or directly from the Department of Education’s examinations page.

  • Tutoring

This is also an excellent time to consider tutoring. Our tutors will assist you with those difficult sections of work you just can’t seem to grasp on your own. They will help ensure you cover all the material needed before your rewrite. You will improve your chances of improving your marks by getting support systems in place well in advance.

Get in touch with us via our supplementary exam page and we’ll set you up with a tutor who will be there with you every step of the way.

We want to see you succeed, and assist you in achieving the marks that you not only need, but are capable of.

What do I do if I don’t qualify to write a supplementary exam?

If you don’t meet the criteria for a supplementary exam (listed above), you have the following options:

  • Re-enroll for the NSC at a school without delay, if you are younger than 21 years old. Enroll as a part-time candidate at a Public Adult Education Centre, if you are older than 21
  • Register for the Senior Certificate (SC) examination which is a school leaving qualification for adults and out-of school learners
  • Alternatively, if you were not successful in your examinations, you could consider vocational education and training. There are 50 Public Further Education and Training (FET) colleges across all provinces of South Africa comprising over 300 campuses or teaching sites.


Find out more information, or book a tutor for your supplementary exams now!

Still not sure if a supplementary exam is for you? Read our blog article to decide!

Supplementary Exam Infographic Supplementary Exam Tutor




Written By: Ashleigh de Jager, BrightSparkz Blog Writer (containing inserts from the DoE website)