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Decision Time: Maths or Maths Lit?

Is Maths your thing? Do you love to make numbers line up and dance? Or do you go into a cold sweat at the vaguest mention of "algebra", "geometry" or "calculus"?

The time is coming for you to pick the subjects you'll do from Grade 10 through to Matric, and your choice will determine what tertiary education options are available to you. One of the choices you need to make is whether to do Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy.

Maths vs. Maths Lit

For some, it may be a no-brainer. If you're planning on studying Maths at university, you'll be doing Mathematics from Grade 10. But if you know you suck at Maths and get confused once people start throwing letters into it, you'll already have your eye on those Maths Lit textbooks. If you're not sure, though, we can help! Let's take a look at which is better suited for you.


So you're thinking about taking Pure Maths in Grade 10. That's great! Are you sure, though? Here are some questions you should ask yourself first:

  • Is Maths one of my strengths?
  • Do I perform well in Maths?
  • Are my Maths marks consistent?
  • Do I find Maths interesting?

If you answered yes to all of the above, then Maths may be the right choice for you!

If your Maths marks are hovering around 50% but you have your heart set on pushing on with the subject, you may want to consider finding a tutor or asking your teacher for some extra help.


From Grade 10 to Grade 12, Mathematics will cover the following:

  • Paper 1:
    • Algebra, Equations & Inequalities
    • Patterns and Sequences
    • Finance, Growth & Decay
    • Functions and Graphs
    • Differential Calculus
    • Probability
  • Paper 2:
    • Statistics
    • Analytical Geometry
    • Trigonometry
    • Euclidean Geometry and Measurement

Mathematical Literacy

Thinking that maybe Maths isn't for you? Maths Lit is your other option and it's quite different. The focus is no longer on abstract mathematical concepts, but rather on applying maths to the real world. No problem will be given without context, which makes it easier to understand exactly what it is you're doing.

If Maths isn't exactly your strongest subject or you know you won't need it for your future plans, then Maths Lit is a better choice.


From Grade 10 to Grade 12, Maths Lit will cover the following topics:

  • Finance
  • Measurement
  • Maps, Plans & Other Representations of the Real World
  • Data Handling
  • Probability

As with Maths, there are 2 exams but they both cover the same topics. The only difference is that Maths Lit Paper 2 asks questions at a higher standard. In other words, the questions will require a little bit more thought and you may need to use your problem solving skills.

Hopefully now you have a slightly better idea of whether you should choose Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy going forward. If you still need some help, check out this article about what degree programmes are available to you with each subject.

Article by: Conor Engelbrecht



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