Subject Choice in Grade 9 

Do you know what subjects you are going to be taking? Is there a subject you are unsure about? Will your subjects allow you to study what you want to study when you leave school? Are you unsure whether to take Mathematics or Maths Literacy? These are common concerns when making subject choices in Grade 9.

You need the following minimum subject requirements:

Seven subjects√ 

The National Curriculum Statement requires all learners in Grades 10 to 12 to do seven subjects of which four are compulsory and three are of their own choice.

Four compulsory subjects √

Two of these subjects must be South African languages. Of these, one must be the language of teaching and learning, referred to as the Home Language (HL), and the other, a first additional Language (Add Lang).

Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy√

In addition to two languages, all learners must take either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy and Life Orientation.

Three further subjects√

In addition to choosing four compulsory subjects, learners must choose an additional three subjects from the approved subject list.  Learners can take up to four languages as part of their seven-subject package. Some of the approved subjects have been classified as designated subjects, which are more suitable for tertiary study (see the designated list of subjects at the end of this article).

Requirements for NSC √

Pass 6 from the 7 subjects offered
• Home Language 40% (compulsory)
• 2 other Subjects x 40%
• 3 Subjects x 30%

NOTE: To get a university entrance you need to have seven subjects of which 4 must be designated. Maths or Maths lit as well as your two compulsory languages are designated subjects. You now need to select three other subjects of which 1 must be designated (Remember maths or maths lit and your languages count towards your 4 designated subjects).You need to take a total of seven subjects, four of which are compulsory: two languages (Home Language (HL), first additional Language (Add Lang)).

Let’s start choosing subjects!

In addition to two languages, you must take either Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy and Life Orientation.

1 Home Language (compulsory)
2 First additional language (compulsory)
3 Life Orientation (compulsory)
4 Mathematics or Maths Literacy (compulsory)
5 ________________________
6 ________________________
7 ________________________

Things to consider when choosing subjects:

Your choice will depend on:

• What subjects you enjoy doing
• Your field of interest
• Your academic achievement

What subjects do you enjoy most? These are usually subjects which you do well in. They also provide an indication of the kinds of career fields you may be interested in following. For example, if you enjoy Life Sciences it means that you are interested in topics like human anatomy and plant biology; If you enjoy Art at school you may be inclined towards careers which allow some degree of creative expression.

The best subject choices are made when you know what field you are interested in following from which you can determine the subject combinations best related to your chosen field. You can do a variety of Self-Assessment Questionnaire online free of charge.

When choosing subjects don’t do the following:

  • Don’t choose a subject just because your friends a doing it.
  • Don’t choose a subject just because it is easy
  • Don’t choose a subject just because it is less work.
  • Don’t choose a subject based on the teacher.

Don’t’s for parents:

  • Don’t be scared to talk to your children about careers (your job is not to be the expert but to listen, ask questions and encourage).
  • Don’t dominate the conversation! Make decisions together as a family after researching the options.
  • Don’t live your dreams and ambitions through your children and force your choices upon your children.

All schools have different subject offerings and combinations so check to see what subject your school offers before choosing the final 3 subjects. If you reach a deadlock and you are still not sure what to do, speak to a teacher and/or a career counsellor.

Maths vs. Math Literacy?

The choice between Mathematics and Maths Literacy is often the one which leads to the most concern for learners and parents. One of the reasons for this is that Mathematics is the most difficult subject at school as demonstrated by the fact that it has highest failure rate in matric. The other two subjects which are also technically “difficult” are Physical Sciences and Accounting which also have high failure rates in matric. As such, Mathematics is a common source of stress and is especially stressful during exam times. You may ask whether it is worth it or not to take Mathematics. Lets compare the two subjects in terms of their purpose and content and what fields of study are affected when choosing Maths Literacy over Mathematics.

Mathematics is a conceptual, problem-solving subject whereas Maths Literacy is a concrete practical subject which applies Maths to every-day life. Mathematics is as the study of numbers, equations, functions and geometric shapes and their relationships. Its major subdivisions are arithmetic, algebra, geometry and calculus. In Maths Literacy learners calculate and interpret statistical reports, income tax, home loan repayments and intepret graphs ratio and percentage.  Mathematics allows for interpretation and problem solving using a variety of methods algebra, calculus, analytical geometry and probability whereas Maths Literacy provides the skills for compiling a personal budget, determining the profitability of a venture, ratio and percentage for everyday calculations, for example, fuel consumption, discount calculations, inflation and exchange rates.

Mathematics is a gateway subject for career fields such as ScienceEngineeringMedicine or Finance (accounting and actuarial science). Mathematics is compulsory for students wanting study a Bachelor of Commerce at a university. If you are coping with Mathematics in Grade 9 then take Mathematics as one of your subjects. However, if you are failing Mathematics or are borderline then consider choosing Maths Literacy. It is better to pass Maths Literacy than it is to fail Mathematics.  One of the misconceptions often quoted is that without Mathematics I can’t do or become anything. This is incorrect! There are hundreds of degrees and diplomas you can do with Maths Literacy.

Have you decided what you want to study and where you want to study after school? The subjects you choose in Grade 9 and the marks you receive in Grade 11 will provisionally determine what institutions and programmes you will be accepted into in Grade 12. The government determined minimum requirements for a degree, diploma and certificate programmes are as follows: To do a DEGREE programme you need a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with an achievement rating of 4 (Adequate Achievement, 50-59%) or better in four recognized 20-credit NSC subjects. To do a DIPLOMA programme you need a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with an achievement rating of 3 (Moderate Achievement, 40-49%) or better in four recognised NSC 20-credit subjects. To do a CERTIFICATE programme you need a minimum of a Grade 9.

Over and above these requirements, each university or university of technology has its own minimum entry requirements. When you apply to a university you will be required to produce your marks (if you are in Grade 12 then you will be requried to produce your final Grade 11 marks) which will be converted to an APS score to determine what programmes you will be accepted into. each university have their own APS score requirements. Contact the university or visit the website to check APS requirements.

In order to make the best subject choice do more research on your interests and the requirements for entry into various programmes linked to your interests. Don’t stop asking questions, and don’t be afraid to ask for help:

• Speak to your subject teachers or LO teacher and ask them more about their subjects.
• Speak to your parents and ask them what they think.
• Do the interest questionnaire
• For more in-depth assessment, visit a trained career counsellor or psychologist who specialises in career guidance.

Remember that the final choice is up to you. You know yourself better than anyone else and once you have done the research make your choice. Have confidence in your choice and make the best of it.