What is the Law for Matric Exams?

The Matric Examination period is one of the most stressful times in a younger person’s life. Many students feel a sense of crippling anxiety when they walk into their examination venues and begin to contemplate all the far-reaching effects that these tests may have on their careers. Worse still, students are usually bombarded with new protocols and directives that must be adhered to during their examinations if they wish to receive their certificates. But how much of this comes from the schools and how much comes from the government itself? What kind of rules and requirements are involved when you write your matric exams and what does the law say about all of this? What is the Law for Matric Exams?

Matric exams themselves (formally known as National Senior Certificate ((NSC)) Examinations) are government-administered and thus, their content and associated regulations are not determined by your individual school.

The basic matric examination protocols are set forward by the Department of Basic Education who also provide generalised curriculum guidelines for the year in the form of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

What is the Law for Matric Exams?

What are the Rules of an Examination?

The individual rules of an examination will depend heavily on the type of examination in question. There are, for example, notable differences between school-based assessments and Grade 12 end of year NSC exams. When dealing with matric exams and the Grade 12 curriculum, intricate guidelines are given out for each subject respectively, you can find the guidelines for your individual subjects here.  

These guidelines vary depending on each subject but government instructions usual cover the following matters –

  • The amount of question papers.
  • The amount of marks for each paper.
  • The amount of time that must be given for each paper.
  • Whether or not papers may be written on the same day or if an interval must be given.
  • A general overview of the content.

Other, more generalised rules are also given for the conduct, administration and management of NSC exams, they include, but are not limited to, the following –

  • Students may not leave the exam venue within the first hour of the session.
  • A student may be allowed to leave in an emergency but they must be supervised.
  • All questions must be directed to the invigilator. Students must not attempt to help others in their communications.
  • Students may not create disturbances or act in an improper or unseemly manner.
  • Students may not have books, notes, photos, etc. which could help them in their examinations other than those provided by the invigilator.
  • Only approved calculators may be used and only when they are prescribed.
  • Students must be given a period of ten minutes before the beginning of the exam to read through the exam paper. This is in addition to the time allocated for the reading of any necessary instructions.
  • Students may not do any writing during this ten minute period.
  • When a student is given multiple questions/answers to choose from and they provide more than the required amount of answers, only the first required number of answers will be accepted. In other words, if a student is given 5 questions and asked to answer any 2, but they then proceed to answer all 5, only the first 2 answers will be marked.
  • Examiners and internal moderators must disclose when their sons, daughters, brothers or sisters are writing their matric exams during the period of appointment. They must then be relieved of certain duties during this period.
What is the Law for Matric Exams?

What Happens if you Miss your Matric Exams?

In the event that a student misses their final examination, they must provide a ‘valid reason’ for their absence. If they do not provide such a reason, they will not be allowed to write a supplementary exam in the following year and they will not receive a result.

There are multiple impediments that can be considered valid reasons for absenteeism (when supported by evidence), they include, but are not limited to –

  • Illness (doctor’s certificate required).
  • Humanitarian reasons such as a death in the family (letter required).
  • A court hearing (supported by written evidence).
  • Representing the country/province in a sporting/cultural event.
  • Any other reason that is deemed valid by the head of the assessment body or by his/her representative.

What Happens If You Cheat in an Exam?

Annexure M of NSC exam regulations (beginning on page 164) specifies all the potential irregularities that may be committed by a student and the resulting penalties for such infringements. Most commonly, these acts include, but are not limited to, things like –

  • Possession of unauthorised material during an exam.
  • Possession of an unauthorised electronic device during an exam.
  • Caught copying or receiving help from another student .
  • Presenting false identification.

Most of these violations are punished in the same way, namely –

  • The student’s exam paper will be considered null and void.
  • The student may be barred from a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 subsequent exams, excluding supplementary exams (the exact number will be determined based on the severity of the infraction).
  • If there is evidence of collusion with another student, that student may face similar penalties.
  • In certain scenarios, such as when false ID has been presented or when a student is given assistance by an invigilator/teacher, the SAPS may also be contacted.
What is the Law for Matric Exams?

According to the National Protocol for Assessment Grades R-12, irregularities committed by students in Grade 10 and 11 should be dealt with in the aforementioned manner.

While these guidelines are specifically designed for public schools and public exams, private schools are instructed to align their procedures to these standards and with Umlasi Directives.

What does 777 mean in Matric Results?

A code 777 refers to an outstanding mark (outstanding as in ‘not yet known’ rather than exceptionally high). When a mark has not been captured and a reason for this irregularity has not been established, code 777 is given. This code must be finalised as either a 444 (absent) or 999 (absent with valid reasons) as soon as possible.

What is the Decision on a Matric Rewrite?

You may only rewrite your matric exams if you fulfil specific criteria. There are many situations in which an individual may qualify for the supplementary exams (sometimes referred to as Second National Exams), they include, but are not limited to –

  • The student did not pass grade 12 but only needs a maximum of 2 subjects to pass.
  • The student missed their exams but had a valid reason, ie, they were medically unfit or experienced a death in the family.
  • If the student is one requirement short of the minimum requirements needed for a higher certificate, bachelor’s degree, etc, they may be allowed to write certain supplementary exams.

Students will need to register for their supplementary exams. This should be done as soon as possible or they will run the risk of missing the registration period.

In Conclusion – What does the Law say about Matric Exams?

End of year examinations in Grade 12 are government-administered and must follow specific regulations and guidelines that are specified by the Department of Basic Education. While public schools and public examinations must follow these rules precisely, private schools are still instructed to operate in alignment with these protocols.

What is the Law for Matric Exams?

During these examinations, there are certain codes of conduct that must be observed by exam candidates and invigilators alike. With regard to students, these rules include things like –

  • Students may not leave the exam venue within the first hour of the session.
  • A student may be allowed to leave in an emergency but they must be supervised. 
  • Students may not create disturbances or act in an improper or unseemly manner.
  • Students may not have books, notes, photos, etc. which could help them in their examinations other than those provided by the invigilator.
  • Students must be given a period of ten minutes before the beginning of the exam to read through the exam paper. This is in addition to the time allocated for the reading of any necessary instructions.
  • Students may not do any writing during this ten minute period.

In the event that a student misses their final examinations, they will be allowed to write supplementary examinations in the following year if they can provide valid reasons for their absence, these reasons may include factors such as –

  • They were medically unfit.
  • There was a death in the family.
  • They had a court hearing.
  • Any other reason deemed acceptable by the head of the assessment body or his/her representative.

Students may be caught cheating in many different ways (commonly these instances are referred to as irregularities), in most of these scenarios, the student’s exam paper will be considered null and void and they will be barred from a set number of future exams. In some instances, the SAPS may even be contacted if the infraction warrants such a response.

Candidates may be allowed to rewrite their exams in the form of supplementary exams if they fulfil certain prerequisites.

Disclaimer LAW101: All of our posts are for research purposes only. Law 101 aims to assist its readers with useful information on the laws of our country that can guide you to make decisions in line with the South African Governmental Laws currently in place. Although our posts cite the constitution in many instances, they are intended to assist readers who are looking to expand their knowledge of the law. Should you require specific legal advice we advise you to get in touch with a qualified legal expert.

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