Every year, when matric results are released, the disparity between the IEB and NSC results is astonishing for many parents and students. Because of this, parents and students are often confused regarding the IEB and NSC. Furthermore, many want to know which is better and if there is truly any difference.
They also want to know why there are two different matric examinations and not one. However, since matric prepares students for further education – helping them establish fruitful careers – discovering the difference is paramount. To help you better understand the difference between NSC and IEB, you can carefully examine this guide.
IEB vs NSC: What is The Difference?
The primary difference between the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and the Independent Examination Board (IEB) is that one is a qualification and the other is a private assessment body. As the name suggests, the Independent Examination Board (IEB) is a private assessment body. It is responsible for setting the examination and curriculum for clients and independent schools that choose to use the IEB.
Both the IEB and NSC are accredited by Umalusi. Umalusi sets the standard for basic and further education according to the National Qualifications Framework Act No 67 of 2008.
What is the NSC?
The NSC is the qualification matric learners who have completed the CAPS curriculum receive after achieving an overall passing score after sitting the examination.
How Does the NSC Conduct Examination?
The NSCs exams are based on the CAPS curriculum, which means learners will have to have seven subjects, two being language subjects, one being some form of mathematics, and one being Life Orientation.
When the exams are conducted, matric students are required to enter an examination centre and sit the test under the supervision of private invigilators and private monitors. When the exams are complete, they are graded by Umalusi.
Does the NSC Prepare Students For University?
Most South African university graduates have received a Department of Basic Education NSC. However, all of these matric pupils would have had to achieve a bachelor admission on their matric results. A Bachelor Admission is the highest pass in the NSC and symbolises that the learner can enter any South African university for a degree course.
Other passing grades – like a diploma or higher certificate – will mean this is impossible unless the learner redoes matric or attends a bridging course.
So, it matters what your overall pass is, rather than if you received an NSC from the Department of Basic Education or the IEB.
Is The NSC Comparable to International School Leaving Qualifications?
According to SAQA, the NSC is comparable to other international school-leaving exams. However, the NSC is not internationally recognised. This means that while many South African matriculants can use their qualification to enter universities in Britain and Australia, most international universities will still need South African students to pass an assessment – as is the case with any foreign student. Furthermore, the qualifying criteria to enter a university abroad will be determined by the faculty the student applies to and if their grades exceed the faculty’s minimum requirements.
What is the IEB?
The IEB is an independent assessment body that launched to combat the apartheid regime’s discrimination. Instead, providing all learners with the opportunity to achieve a quality education.
When learners matriculate through an IEB school, they will receive an IEB NSC.
How Does the IEB Conduct Examination?
The formal setting of the IEB exam – exam centre and invigilation – is the same as the NSC. Additionally, the exams are also graded by Umalusi. However, the IEBs exams emphasise critical thinking and problem-solving, requiring learners to think deeply about the question instead of “parrot” what they’ve learned.
Does the IEB Prepare Students For University?
Because the IEBs examination focuses primarily on problem-solving and critical thinking, many believe that the IEB better prepares students for university. The exam questions differ from the state’s NSC exams. However, the IEBs exams are also based on the CAPS curriculum set by the Department of Basic Education.
Is The IEB Comparable to International School Leaving Qualifications?
According to the IEB, the IEB NSC is benchmarked by the UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC). This means that many universities – especially those in Britain and Australia – will accept students with an IEB NSC. However, seldomly is there any differentiation between those with an IEB NSC and the state’s NSC.
Students who pass the IEB NSC – like students with an NSC – will need to prove proficiency in the university’s assessment besides achieving the minimum entry requirements.
NSC And IEB: Which is Better?
When compared directly to each other, the IEB often comes out as the better qualification. It is more likely that a student will pass matric through the IEB than if they take the NSC. However, the reason for this is not as simple as the IEB being the better examination. It requires a more extensive review.
Most of the IEBs client schools are independent schools, and students who take the exam are exposed to better learning conditions throughout their school career, especially in matric. The smaller classrooms and the improved socio-economic conditions place these students at an advantage over the socio-economic struggles many NSC learners experience.
Then, when you consider that the IEB also benchmarks its curriculum on the CAPS curriculum used by the Department of Basic Education to set the NSC tests, there are not many fundamental differences.
Of course, parents and students want an advantage given the fast-moving globalisation. The best way to achieve that advantage would be to pass each subject with grades that are internationally recognised and appreciated, rather than focusing on whether the IEB or the NSC is better.
For example, an IEB and NSC student with a 50% passing grade on many subjects will be rejected from entry to international universities since they will not have met the basic requirements.
In Comparison, a student with seven distinctions from the IEB is likely to be accepted to an international university, whereas a student with seven distinctions from the NSC may not.
Why? The primary reason would be in the other qualifying criteria necessary to study abroad. Students often have to prove that they have the means to pay for studies and sustain themselves without the assistance of the university or government. Since many IEB students do not face the same socio-economic challenges as many NSC students, they are more likely to meet the additional qualifying criteria that aren’t based solely on their results or the formability of the testing and assessment.