DBE past papers

In education the acronym DBE refers to the Department of Basic Education. The DBE is the department of the South African government that oversees education from Grade R to Grade 12 including adult literacy programs. Despite this vital role the DBE plays in our country not many people know a lot about the department or the DBE past papers it provides. 

That is why we decided to take a look at the DBE and what they do in the present day. We will also look at where you can find DBE past papers and how they can help you to prepare for your upcoming exams.

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The Department of Basic Education

The DBE was formed in 2009 when the National Department of Education was divided into the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training. These two departments were tasked with overseeing education within South Africa. The vision of the DBE is to create a South Africa where all its people have access to lifelong learning opportunities. In the hopes that this will help to improve the quality of life in the country and build a peaceful, prosperous and democratic South Africa. It is an admirable vision for the country that truly highlights the power of a good education.

The DBE is currently headed by the minister of basic education Angie Motshekga. The minister is responsible for overseeing the DBE and ensuring that it remains true to its values. The values that the DBE adheres to are as follows:

  • People: Upholding the South African constitution and being accountable to the government and people of South Africa and the minister
  • Excellence: To maintain high performance and professional standards by striving for excellence including being fair, ethical, and trustworthy in all they do.
  • Teamwork: To cooperate in an open and supportive way with one another and their partners in education to achieve shared goals.
  • Learning: To create an organisation where staff members seek and share knowledge and information while being committed to personal growth.
  • Innovation: To aim to address the training needs for high-quality service and seek methods to achieve their goals.

DBE past papers

It is with the goal of improving education in South Africa that the DBE past papers are made available to students. As these past papers can provide vital assistance to students in their revision helping them succeed in their studies. Additionally, since the DBE designed the curriculum through the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) the past papers they provide are guaranteed to be relevant to students’ revision.

Where to get DBE past papers

The DBE has made all of their past exam papers available for download on their website. There you can find past National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam papers going back to 2008 with their memos or marking rubrics as well.

An even better way of practicing to do past papers is per topic. Use these past papers to practice throughout the year as you study each topic to improve your memory on each topic. 

How to use DBE past papers

The best way to use the DBE past papers in your revision is to follow these steps:

  1. Revise the subject material to the best of your ability until you feel ready.
  2. Use the DBE past papers as a mock exam, writing them under exam conditions keeping to the time limit of the paper.
  3. Use the past paper memo to mark your mock exam attempt.
  4. Analyse the results of your mock exam to determine what areas you need to revise more.

Benefits of using DBE past papers

There are a number of benefits to using the DBE past papers in the way described above as it can help with the following:

  • Practice: Completing DBE past papers allows students to practice putting learned information into clear and concise answers that markers can understand. This is important as it doesn’t matter what the student knows if they are unable to clearly communicate it in the exam.
  • Learn exam vocabulary: Using DBE past papers students can familiarise themselves with the vocabulary that is used in the exam papers. This greatly improves their chance of success in the exam as they can better understand what is being asked of them.
  • Time management: Time management is an important part of writing exams, as there is limited time for each question paper. That is why completing DBE past papers in a mock exam environment allows students to practice their time management in a low-stakes environment. They can then get a sense of how long they should spend on each question.
  • Marking structure: DBE past papers can also show students the mark allocation structure that is used in the exams. This improves a student’s ability to understand what is expected from them by the different types of questions.
  • Efficient revision: By analysing their attempts on DBE past papers students will gain an understanding of what areas of their subjects they know and what areas they need to revise more. This allows them to focus their revision on the weaker areas which improve their revision efficiency.


The DBE strives to improve the accessibility and quality of education in South Africa. It is to that end that they freely provide the DBE past papers to allow NSC students to efficiently revise for their final exams. As we have seen using these past papers has a number of benefits for students and can help them pass their final exams. Allowing them to pursue their dreams till they can make them a reality.

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