What Subjects are Needed to Become a Doctor in South Africa

What Subjects are Needed to Become a Doctor in South Africa ? On this page, you will learn what subjects (marks/results needed) you should take in Grade 10Grade 12 in order to gain admission in South African Universities (entry requirements) and become a Medical Doctor in South Africa. school subjects and level of schooling required for the doctor is fully explained on this page:

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Life Sciences, previously referred to as Biology

Physical Sciences, comprising Physics and Chemistry

Mathematics, particularly statistics

English Language for communication

Read: 20 Most Needed Medical Specialties in South Africa

The value of a Medical Doctor in our modern societies globally is one that keeps on entrenching itself in our daily lives and routines. This field keeps on redefining itself and always stays relevant as societies evolve. Picking this career field out of many other appealing career fields is one of the most envied choices by many students, simply because of its discriminatory nature. The medicine career path is followed by Mathematics and Science students, yet amongst those, only the top students get admitted to universities after matric.

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When it comes to subject choices, every grade 10 student should already know that the subjects selected in Grade 9, 10 and now Grade 11 will influence their career future. You will only get your NSC if you meet all the requirements for grades 10, 11 and 12 and have completed the school-based (internal) assessments as well as the external Grade 12 assessment.

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What Subjects are Needed to Become a Doctor in South Africa

Recommended subjects for a medical doctor career: Choosing a career in medicine is a significant and fulfilling life decision. It calls for meticulous preparation and an unwavering dedication to mastering a wide array of interrelated subjects. The path to becoming a doctor in South Africa is a demanding one, commencing with the correct educational foundation. To prepare yourself for this journey, it’s important to understand the required academic subjects as per the South African CAPS curriculum, along with the necessary marks. Below, we will guide you through these requirements.

What subjects do you need to do to become a doctor? The subjects needed (recommended) to become a doctor in South Africa as per the CAPS curriculum are Life Sciences, Physical Sciences (Chemistry and Physics), Mathematics, English as a First Additional Language, Life Orientation, and while not strictly required, Computer Applications Technology and Physical Education are beneficial:

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1. Life Sciences

Life Sciences, previously referred to as Biology, is the cornerstone for any aspiring doctor. The subject involves the study of life and living organisms, from their physical structure to chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development, and evolution. A profound understanding of Life Sciences assists future doctors in comprehending human body functions and reactions to various treatments. As per South African university requirements, a minimum achievement of 70% (level 6) in Life Sciences is often a prerequisite for medical school.

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2. Physical Sciences

Physical Sciences, comprising Physics and Chemistry, is a mandatory subject for potential doctors. Chemistry provides insight into the composition of matter, investigating properties and reactions, and how these reactions can form new substances. Doctors need robust Chemistry knowledge to comprehend how different medications interact with the body at the molecular level. Physics, on the other hand, underpins various medical technologies such as X-rays, MRIs, ultrasound, and radiation therapy. Understanding physics helps future doctors utilise these tools for improved diagnosis and treatment. A minimum achievement of 70% (level 6) is typically required in Physical Sciences.

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3. Mathematics

Mathematics, particularly statistics, forms an integral part of a doctor’s education. It aids in understanding and conducting medical research, interpreting data, and applying it to patient care. Furthermore, knowledge of statistics is critical when understanding studies about new treatments or drugs and evaluating their effectiveness. South African medical schools often require a minimum achievement of 70% (level 6) in Mathematics.

4. English Language and Communication

Effective communication is a fundamental skill for a doctor. The ability to convey intricate medical information to patients in a comprehensible way necessitates a solid grasp of the English language. Therefore, proficiency in English as a First Additional Language with a minimum achievement of 60% (level 5) is generally required for prospective medical students.

5. Life Orientation

Life Orientation, as part of the CAPS curriculum, covers topics like psychology, sociology, and health, providing a critical understanding of behavioural, cultural, and social factors impacting health. This knowledge enables doctors to deliver more holistic and patient-centric care. Achieving a minimum of 70% (level 6) in Life Orientation can be beneficial for those looking to apply to medical schools.

6. Computer Applications Technology (CAT)

With the digital age upon us, a basic understanding of Computer Applications Technology, including the use of electronic health records, telemedicine, and digital diagnostic tools, can be invaluable. Although not a strict requirement, achieving a good score in CAT can enhance a student’s readiness for the modern medical world.

7. Physical Education

While not academically focused, Physical Education is important for future doctors. It accentuates the importance of physical health and well-being, in addition to the preventative aspects of medicine. A strong performance in Physical Education can contribute to a balanced educational profile.

To summarise, aspiring doctors should aim to excel in these subjects during their high school years under the CAPS curriculum to increase their chances of securing a spot in medical school. Here, they’ll delve deeper into advanced subjects such as anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, medical ethics, and more.

A broad-ranging education is a prerequisite to prepare for a medical career. Though the journey may be challenging, with a commitment to learning, a passion for helping others, and a strong academic foundation in these fundamental subjects, you can certainly navigate the path to becoming a doctor in South Africa.

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Required Subjects (marks/results needed) for medicine in South African Universities

Each university or medical school in South Africa may have their own unique set of requirements in order to gain admission to Medicine studies. However, the following are the general prerequisite subject combinations from grade 10 up to Grade 12, that will grant you access to study Medicine in South Africa:

  • English Home Language OR First Additional Language 70% – 100%
  • Mathematics 70% – 100%
  • Life Sciences AND/OR Physical Science 60% -100%

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Q&A on Becoming a Doctor in South Africa

Q: What marks/results are needed to become a doctor in South Africa?

To become a doctor in South Africa, you need to have excellent academic records, especially in subjects like Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences. The specific marks may vary depending on the university, but generally, you would need an Admission Point Score (APS) of at least 30 to 35 points to be considered for a medical program. Additionally, some universities require you to pass the National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) in Academic Literacy, Quantitative Literacy, and Mathematics.

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Q: What subjects should you take in Grade 10 to become a doctor in South Africa?

In Grade 10, it’s crucial to take Mathematics (not Mathematical Literacy), Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences (Biology) as these are prerequisites for medical school. English is also important as it’s the medium of instruction in most universities. Some students also opt for additional subjects like Geography or Information Technology to broaden their knowledge base, but the three science subjects are non-negotiable for aspiring doctors.


Q: What subjects do you need to do to become a doctor?

To become a doctor in South Africa, you need to excel in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences during your high school years. These subjects are prerequisites for admission into medical schools. English proficiency is also essential as most medical programs are taught in English. Some universities may also look at your performance in other subjects, but the focus is primarily on the three science subjects.


Q: Which universities can I study at to become a doctor in South Africa?

South Africa has several reputable universities offering medical programs. Some of the top options include:

  1. University of Cape Town (UCT): Known for its high academic standards and research opportunities.
  2. University of the Witwatersrand (Wits): Offers a comprehensive medical program with various specializations.
  3. Stellenbosch University: Renowned for its medical faculty and state-of-the-art facilities.
  4. University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN): Offers a variety of medical degrees and has strong community engagement programs.
  5. University of Pretoria: Provides a well-rounded medical education with opportunities for practical experience.

Each university has its own set of admission requirements, so it’s advisable to check their specific criteria and also consider any entrance exams or interviews that may be required.

Q: What 3 subjects do you need to become a doctor?

The three essential subjects you need to focus on to become a doctor in South Africa are Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences. These subjects are prerequisites for entering medical school and are crucial for understanding the basic scientific principles that underpin medicine.


Q: How many years of study are required to become a doctor in South Africa?

Becoming a doctor in South Africa is a lengthy process that requires extensive education and training. Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Undergraduate Medical Degree: 6 years
  2. Internship: 2 years
  3. Community Service: 1 year

After completing these steps, you’ll be a qualified medical practitioner. However, if you wish to specialize, you’ll need to undergo additional years of study and training, which can range from 4 to 6 years depending on the specialization.


Q: What subjects are needed to become a doctor in Grade 9?

In Grade 9, it’s important to lay the foundation for the subjects you’ll need in higher grades. While subject choices for medical school are generally made in Grade 10, focusing on Mathematics, Natural Sciences (which covers both Physical and Life Sciences), and English in Grade 9 can set you on the right path. Excelling in these subjects will make it easier for you to take the required subjects in Grade 10 and beyond.


Q: What subjects are needed to become a doctor in Grade 11?

By Grade 11, you should be well into your preparation for medical school. The subjects you need to focus on remain Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences. These are non-negotiable prerequisites for medical programs in South Africa. English is also important, as it’s the medium of instruction in most universities. Some students opt for additional subjects to broaden their knowledge base, but the focus should primarily be on the three key science subjects.

Q: Which university can I study at to become a doctor in South Africa online?

Online options are not typically available for the full medical degree. However, some universities may offer online courses for certain theoretical aspects or supplementary subjects, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on education. It’s advisable to check with individual universities for the most current information.


Q: What are the top 5 medical schools in South Africa?

Based on academic reputation, research output, and facilities, the top 5 medical schools in South Africa are:

  1. University of Cape Town (UCT)
  2. University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
  3. Stellenbosch University
  4. University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN)
  5. University of Pretoria

These universities are renowned for their comprehensive medical programs, state-of-the-art facilities, and opportunities for research and practical experience.


Q: What are the requirements for studying medicine in South Africa?

The requirements for studying medicine in South Africa generally include:

  1. Matric Certificate: With excellent marks in Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences.
  2. Admission Point Score (APS): Usually an APS of at least 30 to 35 points is required.
  3. National Benchmark Tests (NBTs): Some universities require these tests in Academic Literacy, Quantitative Literacy, and Mathematics.
  4. Entrance Exams/Interviews: Some universities have additional entrance exams or interviews as part of the selection process.
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It’s important to check the specific requirements of each university, as they can vary.


Q: How many years does it take to study medicine in South Africa?

Studying medicine in South Africa is a long-term commitment. The breakdown is as follows:

  1. Undergraduate Medical Degree: 6 years
  2. Internship: 2 years
  3. Community Service: 1 year

After these 9 years, you’ll be a qualified medical practitioner. If you choose to specialize, additional years of study and training ranging from 4 to 6 years will be required.


Q: What is the APS score required for medicine in South Africa?

The Admission Point Score (APS) required for medicine varies between universities but is generally quite high due to the competitive nature of medical programs. Most universities require an APS of at least 30 to 35 points. Some universities may have even higher requirements, especially for popular programs.


Q: Are there private medical schools in South Africa?

There are private colleges and institutions that offer qualifications in related health sciences, but not a full medical degree that would allow you to practice as a doctor. Always check the latest information, as the educational landscape can change.


Q: What are the fees for medical schools in South Africa?

The fees for medical schools can vary widely depending on the university and the specific program. As a general estimate, you can expect to pay between R50,000 to R80,000 per year for an undergraduate medical degree at a public university. Some universities may charge higher fees for specialized courses or additional facilities.


Q: What is the cost of studying medicine in South Africa for international students?

The cost for international students is generally higher than for South African residents. Fees can range from R70,000 to R150,000 per year, depending on the university. Additional costs such as visa fees, health insurance, and living expenses should also be considered. Some universities offer scholarships or financial aid packages for international students, so it’s worth investigating these options.

Understanding the time commitment, academic requirements, and financial aspects of studying medicine in South Africa can help aspiring doctors make well-informed decisions about their educational journey.

Further Reading

General Practitioner Cape Town, South Africa | Dr Willie Storm

A guide to becoming a doctor in South Africa

7 Steps to Become a Doctor in South Africa

How To Become A Doctor In South Africa – Careers Portal

Becoming a Medical Doctor

Medical Doctor – Post Matric

14 Reasons To Pursue a Career as a Doctor

APS Score Calculator



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