What does NBT stand for – National Benchmark Test

NBT or National Benchmark Tests are assessment tests that students need to complete. These assessments are created to measure students’ educational abilities. NBT tests usually consist of numerical, mathematics, and language areas. Furthermore, these tests are taken by first-year university applicants.

The purpose of this test is to help determine each student’s readiness for higher education i.e. university-level education.

What is the National Benchmark test


  • NBT is taken to assess student’s academic readiness for university
  • This test is taken post-high school
  • Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy
  • Students can fall under one of the three categories (Basic, Intermediate, or Proficient)
  • NBT’s are available in English and Afrikaans
  • Registration takes place online
  • AQL costs R130 to write while AQL and MAT costs R260
  • Students can reschedule tests prior to the closing date

What is the National Benchmark test?

As previously mentioned, the main focus of this test is to ensure academic readiness for university. Furthermore, the test measures each student’s educational abilities and capabilities. Usually, the NBT consists of two tests. This includes Academic Literacy Quantitative Literacy (AQL) and Math (MAT).

Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy (AQL)

  • The AQL test is written by all applicants
  • All questions are usually multiple-choice
  • The test duration is three hours long
  • Tests the knowledge of what was taught in high school
  • Available in English and Afrikaans

Math NBT Test (MAT)

  • Focuses on Mathematics
  • The math NBT test is for applicants who require math in their course
  •  All questions are multiple-choice
  • The test duration is three hours

Students are then placed into one of three categories after writing the NBT. These categories are determined through a “Standards Setting” process. The categories are as follows; Basic, Intermediate, or Proficient.

Students categorized under the “Basic” level might find university challenging. Furthermore, individuals may find it difficult to keep up with academic programs. This might result in them not being able to keep up with the demand.

Students may adjust better if they’re categorized under the “Intermediate” level. However, they might have difficulties in domain areas. This may result in them requiring appropriate assistance.

Lastly, students that are placed under the “Proficient” umbrella might show more promise. This category suggests that students will be able to cope with their studies.

It should be noted that students do not pass/ fail the NBT test. Rather, the candidates are placed into one of the above categories.

What is the purpose of the National Benchmark Test?

The main purpose of the NBT is to determine students’ readiness for university-level education. However, according to the NBT website, there are a few other reasons. This includes providing additional information about candidates. Therefore, this assists in the admission and placement of students.

The second purpose is to access students’ entry-level literacy and math proficiencies. Next, the NBT also examines the relationship between entry-level skills and school exit outcomes. Lastly, it identifies the nature of foundation courses and curriculum responsiveness.

National Benchmark Test: What you need to know

National Benchmark Test: What you need to know

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about the NBT. In this section, we will cover some FAQs and additional information. Students can find out everything they need to know here.

What language is the NBT test available in?

South African schools mostly focus on two main languages. This includes English and Afrikaans. Furthermore, most universities teach in either of the two mediums. Therefore, candidates can opt to take the assessment in English or Afrikaans.

Students will need to indicate their language choice while registering. Only one language can be chosen. In addition, NBT tests can also be translated into Braille. This is to assist students with disabilities.

How to register?

Registration is rather simple. Simply visit https://nbtests.uct.ac.za and click on the “Book a test” button. Candidates will then need to fill out their personal details, contact info, and test venue location. Thereafter they can download or print the registration confirmation.

If a candidate misses their scheduled date to write they’ll need to re-reregister. Unfortunately, this means that they will need to pay again. However, candidates can opt to request a date change to reschedule the test.

What you need to register

  • South African ID book or passport for international students
  • An email address
  • A safe place to store your username and EasyPay number
  • City and location to write the assessment
  • NBT requirements from the university to want to study at

Payment and pricing

The National Benchmark Tests are extremely affordable. Candidates can expect to pay R130 for AQL, R260 for AQL, and MAT. In addition, getting an NBT assessment remarked will cost an additional R250.

Payment can be made via EasyPay. Candidates will need to use their NBT reference number as the payment reference.

How to reschedule and change dates

Once you have registered you will be able to confirm your date and venue. However, you can still make changes if need be.

You can make changes to your online booking up until the closing date on the schedule. However, you will not be able to make changes if a booking has already closed.

You will need to reregister and pay again if you miss your booking.

When and where to write the NBT

Candidates have the option to write the National Benchmark Test online or at a venue. Furthermore, there are numerous test venues in the country. Most of the test sessions run on the weekend. In addition, NBT assessments are available from May to January. Therefore, allowing students to choose when they would like to write the NBT.

How to prepare for the National Benchmark Test

It’s always vital to prepare for tests beforehand. Likewise, students can prepare for the NBT too. There are two booklets available that teachers use to help their students prepare. These booklets contain example questions that students can practice. Furthermore, these example tests will give candidates a better feel of what to expect in the test. Overall, the purpose of the NBT is to assess students’ knowledge of what they’ve learned.

Each university and faculty department determines what test is required. Therefore it’s vital for students to enquire about this. In certain cases, students may only need to write the AQL test. This is completely determined by the course they wish to study. Additionally, both the AQL and MAT tests need to be taken on the same day.

How do students get their results?

Firstly, it’s important to note that results are only available after four weeks of writing. Furthermore, students can simply log on to their NBT profile to view their results. Students will not need to send their results to universities. Fortunately, this step is covered by the Nation Benchmark Test

Things to remember before writing

There are a few important rules that students need to follow when taking the test. Firstly, calculators and smartphones are not allowed. Students can only carry a pen and paper with them while writing.

Ensure that all laptops and modems are properly working beforehand. Also ensure that your laptop charger is nearby, in case the battery runs low. Laptop cameras need to be switched on throughout the session. Furthermore, each test will require 500MB of data.

Students’ faces need to be fully visible on camera. Therefore, it’s important not to wear hoodies, hats, and headphones during the session. Students are allowed to take bathroom breaks that are less than five minutes. During this time ensure that your laptop does not go into power saving/ sleep mode.

Which universities require National Benchmark Test

As previously mentioned, it’s important to have a look at what each university requires. Today, most major universities require students to complete the NBT. This is completely determined by the course and faculty requirements.

Public universities that require NBT:

  • University of Pretoria
  • Walter Sisulu University
  • University of Limpopo
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Central University of Technology
  • University of Johannesburg
  • Durban University of Technology
  • The University of Venda for Science and Technology
  • Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • University of the Western Cape
  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • University of the Free State
  • North-West University
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • Rhodes University
  • University of Zululand
  • Stellenbosch University
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • University of Cape Town
  • Vaal University of Technology
  • University of Fort Hare
  • Sol Plaatje University
  • University of Mpumulanga

The bottom line

The National Benchmark Test is a requirement that many universities need. Therefore, it’s important to find out when the closing dates are. This way, students have the opportunity to take the test on time. Most universities only consider your application once they receive the results. Students have the option to re-write the NBT a second time if they want.

Which universities require National Benchmark Test

Furthermore, enquire from the university if you are responsible to send the results in. Certain universities have an online portal that automatically receives the results.

Students should always ensure that they provide the correct personal details. Registration can be done online and payment is done through PayFast.

Lastly, the National Benchmark Test was put into place to assess students’ knowledge. This assists universities in understanding their students’ knowledge. Students cannot pass or fail the assessment. Rather, they are placed into different categories, depending on their results.

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