Now is the time for Grade 9s to make important choices

It’s that time of the year for Grade 9s to make choices that will impact their future.

These teens need to select the subjects they will be examined on during their National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.

Subject choice is important as the combination will influence future options, reflect performance levels, as well as enthusiasm and motivation. It will carry them forward, not only for the remaining school years, but into a career path.

Pupils should talk with parents and guardians, their teachers and career counsellors before making a decision.

The choice of which subjects to combine will affect their career path, and seven subjects need to be selected.

The four subjects which are compulsory are-:

  • Home language
  • Second language
  • Maths literacy or maths
  • Life orientation

When choosing subjects, students should go with their passion. The more a student identifies with a subject, the more likely they are to do better in it and the easier the content is to remember.

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Feedback from career or guidance professionals is always a good idea. Give yourself a good idea of what careers you’re considering and research to see if you can organise some work shadowing time.

It will help to investigate what tasks are involved with a particular area, whether you can specialise, and how much demand there is for qualified people in the area you’re interested in.

You also need to know what employees would look for in you personally, as well as in terms of educational achievements. The more you know, the easier it is to decide. 

Have a plan B

Your choice of subject may be limited by your school’s timetable. Even if you’re fairly sure of what you want to study after school, it’s good to leave your options open.

Many tertiary study options involve maths and science. Taking this combination makes many other choices open to you. If you have difficulties with both, consider trying to achieve one out of the two, so you don’t overload yourself.

Bear in mind that due to limited spaces at universities and higher education institutions, admission is often based on your performance. 

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In Grade 12, you can change one of your optional subjects. You need to choose subjects that will push up your aggregate to get the best marks. This will increase your chances of being accepted to the institution you want to apply to.

Your further studies will either be at a TVET college, university or private institution, so you will need to make a decision on which path is best for you in the future.


If you want to attend a university after leaving school, you will need an NSC with an achievement rating of at least four or better in four subjects from the following list: Accounting, Agricultural Sciences, Business Studies, Dramatic Arts, Economics, Engineering Graphics and Design, History, Consumer Studies, Languages , Life Sciences, Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy, Music,  Information Technology, Geography, Physical Sciences, Religion Studies, and Visual Arts.

University of Technology

To study here, you will need an NSC in four of the following subjects with an achievement rating of three or better: Accounting, Agricultural Management Practices, Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural technology, Business Studies, Civil Technology, Computer Applications Technology,  Consumer Studies, Dance Studies, Dramatic Arts, Economics, Electrical Technology, Engineering Graphics and Design, Geography, History, Hospitality Studies, Information Technology, Languages, Life Sciences, Mechanical Technology, Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy, Music, Physical Sciences, Religion studies, Tourism and Visual Arts.

Some courses have extra subject requirements, so it is important to check in advance.