Even more pass the 2023 IEB exam


The percentage of matriculants who passed the Independent Examination Board’s (IEB) National Senior Certificate examination (NSC) last year has risen for another year in a row.

2023’s matrics achieved a pass rate of 98.46%, slightly higher than the 98.42% of 2022 and the 98.39% of 2021.

The IEB announced these figures on Thursday.

According to the IEB, all its candidates had a pass mark which is good enough to continue their education at tertiary level.

A total of 88.59% of 2023’s IEB cohort gained access to degree study, compared to

89.32% in 2022. Together with this, 8.31% of the learners qualified for diploma studies, compared to the 7.52% in 2022.

According to the IEB, 1.57% gained access to study at the Higher Certificate level, the same percentage as in 2022.

The number of students who took the IEB exam in 2023 was significantly more than the previous year.

A total of 13,967 full-time learners and 1,213 part-time learners wrote exams in October and November last year at 275 exam rooms across the country. In 2022, the overall figure was 13,525.

IEB attributes the clear increase in learners to 17 new schools which produced 960 new IEB candidates. Out of these 17 new schools, 12 are traditional schools and five are online schools.

2023 exam is going smoothly, challenges notwithstanding

Confidence Dikgole, chief executive of the IEB, says the 2023 NSC examination was also “free from any irregularities” that could undermine the integrity of the examination.

“On these learners’ five-year educational path there were interruptions and challenges – especially the notable interruption in teaching and learning brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The impressive performance of the class of 2023 in the midst of these challenges reflects the commitment and determination of the learners and the entire education community.”

Dikgole says, however, that there is far too little talk about the enormous pressure that society puts on learners.

“Schools’ experience with young people indicates increasing mental health issues. This is possibly one of the biggest challenges our young people face and affects their ability to perform at their best in a high-pressure exam.

“Mental health is directly linked to the stress that society puts on our young people to perform, to achieve top results and to obtain a place at top tertiary institutions.”

According to Dikgole, the competition is tough, and the problem is not just limited to South Africa.

“This is a worldwide issue.

“Research also indicates a correlation between learners’ independence and their overall well-being,” says Dikgole.

She believes that there is a great responsibility on schools to cultivate self-confidence, bravery and independence among the youth, which has a direct influence on their emotional well-being and eventual performance and success. It is a journey that is undertaken together with parents, but is not always successful.

Dikgole also emphasizes the importance of knowing that education does not end suddenly after school.

“On the contrary, it is just the beginning of new opportunities. There are many educational routes and not all of them necessarily lead to a university degree.”

Adaptations to promote inclusiveness

In line with its inclusive approach to assessment and examinations, the IEB has provided concessions and adapted papers for learners who need them.

Adjustments were approved for 10.42% of candidates (1,583).

Papers have been adjusted as follows:

  • Sixteen subjects were adapted for five candidates with hearing loss.

These customizations include technology such as bold and underlining.

  • Adaptations were made for two candidates with visual impairments in nine subjects. Adaptations include techniques such as replacing images, pictures or diagrams with a written description.
  • Six subjects have been transcribed in Braille for a visually impaired learner.
  • An adaptation was made for engineering graphics and design (Paper 1 and Paper 2) for a candidate with cerebral palsy.