Academic grading in South Africa

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In South Africa, the grading system used in secondary schools until 2008 (when the Outcomes Based Education or OBE curriculum took over) was as follows:

  • Code 7 (A Symbol): 80 - 100%
  • Code 6 (B Symbol): 70 - 79%
  • Code 5 (C Symbol): 60 - 69%
  • Code 4 (D Symbol): 50 - 59%
  • Code 3 (E Symbol): 40 - 49%
  • Code 2 (F Symbol): 35 - 39%
  • Code 1 (FF Symbol): 30 - 34%


The OBE system, when in its experimental stages, originally used a scale from 1 - 4 (a pass being a 3 and a '1st class pass' being above 70%), but this system was considered far too coarse and replaced by a scale from 1 to 7.

For the final standard exams, a 'normal pass' is given for an average mark 50%-59%, a pass with merit for 60% - 79%, and a distinction is given or an average of 80% or more.

Most universities follow a model based on the British system. Thus, at the University of Cape Town and the University of South Africa (UNISA), the percentages are calibrated as follows: a 1st class pass is given for 75% and above, a second (division one) for 70 - 74%, a second (division two) for 60%-69%, and a third for 50 - 59%. Any lower than 50% is a fail. The University of the Witwatersrand considers an A to be 75% and above.

Resources[edit]

  • South African Education Department [1]
  • Stellenbosch University Grade Comparison (page 21) [2]
  • Cape Town University Academic Grading [3]
  • University of the Free State Academic Grading [4]