Applying to further education requires you to tick a lot of boxes, making it quite a daunting task! Apart from considering the career fields you want to enter and finding relevant courses that can lead you there  (use our 4 Tips to Prepare for Further Education to make sure you make this decision in an informed way), you also have to make sure you meet the admission requirements, submit any additional documentation, apply for bursaries or loans, find out more about campus accomodation and write the National Benchmark Tests.

Make use of our Application Checklist to be sure that you have everything in place:

#1 Thoroughly explore course content

It is of utmost importance that you do a thorough investigation of the content of the courses that you are considering to know what it entails and where it can lead to.  Visit our online info guide to download and explore different institutions’ programme information and faculty yearbooks. See Tip 4 for Preparing for Further Education to see which faculties to search for information.

#2 Make sure you meet the admission requirements

To access further education, you have to meet the following requirements:

  • General admission requirements for your qualification of choice (bachelor’s degree, national diploma or national certificate – see Tip 3 for Preparing for Further Education for what is required for each type of qualification)
  • Specific subjects as required by the course you want to apply to
  • Specific minimum performance in these subjects
  • Specific average (without Life Orientation) or Admission Point Score (APS), as calculated by the institution you are applying to
  • Some institutions/faculties make use of a selection formula, e.g. (best language mark + (Mathemtaics x 2) + Physical Sciences + subject 1 + subject 2 + subject 3)/7 has to equal 65.
  • Some courses with have additional requirements, e.g. selection interviews, design portfolios, non-academic merit forms or medical reports

Remember, applications not meeting all of these minimum requirements will not be considered for admission. However, meeting these requirements also do not guarantee entry into the course(s) you are applying to. Therefore, the better you do in your end of Grade 11 examination, the better your chances are.

#3 Know when the application deadlines are

Although the application deadline for most institutions are around the same time, it is important to contact your institution of choice well in advance to make sure when applications are due. In some cases there are different deadlines for different faculties and/or courses. The first deadline for selection courses (e.g. Medicine) are normally around the end of May, while other applications close by the end of June (Stellenbosch University) or by the end of September (most other institutions).

#4 Complete and submit your application

Most applications can be completed online by visiting the institution website and clicking on the application link (see our online info guide). Make sure you have your Grade 11 results and ID number close by and save the student/reference number given to you for later use. Also note that you need to have a valid email address to apply online (confirmation of your application, as well as notification whether your application was successful or not will be sent to this email address) . If you do not have a valid email address, you can create one at

Applications can also be downloaded from institution’s websites to be completed at a later stage or, in some cases, hard copies can be picked up at the institution’s admission office.

You will be required to submit certified* copies of your Grade 11 results (or your National Senior Certificate if you have already completed Matric) as well as your ID. For certain programmes you will also need to submit a medical report, reference letters, additional questionnaires and/or non-academic merit forms and when you are applying for financial aid, you have to provide proof of your parents’ income.

*documents have to be certified at a police station or by a Commissioner of Oath. If your documents are not certified, it will not be accepted and your application will be regarded as incomplete and not considered for admission.

#5 Submit your portfolio on time!

For certain courses, espcially in Design, Art or Architecture, you might be required to send in a prescribed portfolio that will be considered with your application (for example, see the portfolio requirements for Design and Architecture at CPUT). The deadline for portfolios is normally after that of applications, but as it will take some time to complete (and because you want to submit your best work possible), it is very important that you know when it is due and plan accordingly.

#6 Check your application status

When you’ve submitted your application, you should get a username/student number that you can use to track your application (go to the same link where you found the online application). You can use this function to make sure that the institution received everything they need to consider your application. You can also check whether your application was successful.

When you are successful in your tertiary application after submitting your grade 11 results, you are only conditionally or provisionally accepted to your programme of choice. To secure your place, your grade 12 results also have to meet the admission requirements of the course you are provisionally accepted to. If your grade 12 results do not meet this requirement, you will not be able to register for the course.

And if you are unsuccessful?

Even if you meet the admission requirements of the course you are applying to (and please make sure you do before sending in your application!), it is not a guarantee that you will be accepted for your first choice. It is therefore important to apply for more than one course, at more than one institution, to increase your chances to gain access to further education. Make sure that you properly explore each of the courses you are applying to, to know the course content and where the specific qualification can lead to. Remember your plan B or C might end up being your plan A, so be informed!!

#7 Apply for accomodation

When you apply for tertiary studies, you can also apply for accommodation on the institution’s campus. Please note that space in student residences is normally limited and placement normally based on academic merit. In most cases, private accommodation is also available on or close to campus. Have a look at the Accommodation link (see our online info guide) on institutions’ websites for more information on options and the application processes.

#8 Apply for financial aid

You can apply for bursaries and loans at the institution you are applying to (see the Fees/Financial Aid link on the relevant institution website) by completing the Financial Aid section on the application form or submitting a seperate application. Proof of parents’ income will have to be submitted with the application.

You can also apply for funding from national bursary programmes or private companies. For more information on bursaries and loans visit Bursaries-South Africa  |  Stoogle  |  GoStudy  |  NSFAS  |  Eduloan

#9 Know when and where to write the National Benchmark Tests

The National Benchmark Tests (NBT’s) were created to ascertain how prepared school leavers are for tertiary studies. It is compiled out of 3 tests – Academic Literacy (AL), Quantitative Literacy (QL) and Mathematics (MAT). All prospective tertiary students have to write the first two tests (AQL, a 3 hour morning paper) and prospective students who are applying to courses that require mathematical skill (e.g. Mathematical Sciences, Health and Natural Sciences and Engineering) will also be required to write the MAT-test (3 hour afternoon paper).

To make sure which tests should be written, check the admission requirements of the course(s) you are applying to. Although, in most cases, the NBT’s only have to be written before you register as a student, some courses will require you to write it by the time you send in your application – please check your relevant course information/requirements to make sure!

For registration and venue information, as well as what can be expected in the different NBT’s, visit or download the English NBT brochure (brochures in other languages available on the NBT website).

And now?

When you’ve ticked off every one of the 9 above mentioned tasks, it is important that you do not just sit back and wait! Remember that your grade 12 (NSC) examinations are just as important as the grade 11 results you applied with. Furthermore, if you are accepted for more than one of your options, you should keep on exploring these fields to make an informed decision regarding which way to go.


If you have any questions, please leave us a comment so that we can try to guide you to an answer! Also follow us on Facebook for updates.

If you are still unsure about what you want to do next year, contact CareerPrep for an appoinment.