Main menu

FAQ

1. What is the National Benchmark Test?

The National Benchmark Test (NBT) measures your academic readiness for University. 

There are two tests. The Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy domains (AQL) are
combined into one multiple-choice test. Each section is timed, for a total of three hours of
writing time.
The AQL test is written by applicants to all programmes. The second test is Mathematics
(MAT), which is written by applicants to programmes for which mathematics is a
requirement.
The MAT test is also multiple-choice and timed, with three hours allowed.

2. Which tests should I write?

3. How do I prepare for the NBTs?

Two booklets are available for teachers to use to assist in preparing you for the tests:

MAT: Preparing your learnersAQL: Preparing your learners

Each of these booklets contain sample questions for you to practice and get a feel for what is in the tests. You may download these individually here:

Download exemplar questions for the Mathematics (MAT) test.
Download exemplar questions for the Academic and Quantitative Literacy (AQL) test.
There are no special study materials for these tests. Keep in mind the usual common sense advice given to students who are about to take a test: Get adequate sleep the night before and avoid having to rush things at the last minute. Do what works best for you.

Should I attend preparation classes?

The NBT Project does not endorse any such courses and questions the value that these purport to offer.

Are past tests available?

No. The tests are confidential and are not available to anyone.

What if I have not written my Grade 12 exams yet?

Different institutional and faculty requirements determine the deadlines for learners to submit NBT results, which may be as early as June or July.

The time of writing should not be a cause for concern; available data suggests that learners writing the test late in the year have no advantage over those writing in earlier sessions.

However, learners who have not completed the curriculum, or who feel that they may benefit from further revision, may choose to write the tests later in the cycle, but must still meet posted institutional deadlines.

You should write the NBTs when you feel ready. Learners in South Africa are expected to complete the secondary syllabus and write the mock matric exams beginning in September.

The NBTs are available from the end of May until the first Saturday in January, if you feel that you should wait until you finish your syllabus. You must decide for yourself whether you want to write before or after your exams.

What are the tests like?

The NBTs are multiple choice tests. Answers are recorded on what is called a ‘bubble sheet’. The answer sheets are scanned and then translated into scores using sophisticated computer programs.

There are two tests. The Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy domains (AQL) are combined into one multiple-choice test. Each section is timed, for a total of three hours of writing time.

The AQL test is written by applicants to all programmes. The second test is Mathematics (MAT), which is written by applicants to programmes for which mathematics is a requirement.

The MAT test is also multiple-choice and timed, with three hours allowed. These tests are described in more detail under ‘Test Content’.

4. When can/should I write the NBTs?

You should write the NBTs when you feel ready. However, you must also meet the closing dates and deadlines for the institutions where you are applying. Remember also that you must allow time for your NBTs to be processed, scored and the results sent to institutions. The dates on which results are available are shown in the test schedule.

Different institutional and faculty requirements determine the deadlines for learners to submit NBT results, which may be as early as June or July.

The time of writing should not be a cause for concern; available data suggests that learners writing the test late in the year have no advantage over those writing in earlier sessions.

However, learners who have not completed the curriculum, or who feel that they may benefit from further revision, may choose to write the tests later in the cycle, but must still meet posted institutional deadlines.
Click here to view the test schedule.

Do I write both tests on the same day?

Yes. The NBT Project does not allow a learner to write the AQL on one day and the MAT on another. If you wish to write a second time, you still must write the AQL in the morning and the MAT in the afternoon.

What if I can’t write on a Saturday?

As shown on the NBT test schedule, there are writing sessions scheduled on Sundays.

What if I miss my scheduled test?

Registration for the NBT is specific to the date and the site you selected. If you miss your scheduled date, or change your mind about the test session, you must register and pay again.

Should there be an emergency, you must send an e-mail to nbt@uct.ac.za as soon as possible. NBT Project staff will contact you the following week to explore your options for a make-up test.

With documentation of a legitimate emergency, you may not be required to pay a second time.

Legitimate situations that have occurred in the past include taxi accident on the way to the test site, hospitalization, broken collar bone, and family funeral.

What time do I have to be at the test centre?

Check-in at all sites in South Africa begins at 07:30. Door closes at 8:30, after which no one is allowed inside the test rooms. The AQL test is written in the morning and the MAT test is written in the afternoon.

No learner is allowed to come mid-day to write just the MAT test. If you are writing the MAT test, you must write it the same day as you write the AQL test.

What if I am applying to two institutions with different applications deadlines?

If you are applying to more than one institution or faculty then you need to register and write the NBTs to meet the earliest deadline, even if you are also applying to a university that will write the test during registration.

You need only write the tests once, even when applying to more than one institution. All institutions to which you apply will be able to access your NBT results.

Are there any special requirements if I am applying to Health Sciences?

All applicants to programmes in the Health Science Faculties must write both the AQL test and the MAT test. Each institution sets its own deadlines to submit results and some deadlines are in June and July.

You must check with the faculties to which you are applying to ensure that your NBT results are received by the deadline.

Health Science Faculties work with the NBT Project to ensure that sufficient writing sessions and seats are available that meet deadlines at all institutions.

5. In what languages are the tests available?

The NBTs are available in English and Afrikaans – the common languages of instruction used at Institutions of Higher Education in South Africa. When registering, you will be asked to indicate the language in which you wish to write.

Note that you can only choose one language; there is no option to write one test in English and the other in Afrikaans.

For students with disabilities, the AL test has also been translated into Braille.

In what language should I write?

The NBTs are designed to assess readiness for tertiary study in the language of instruction where you plan to attend classes.

The institution to which you apply will have established and posted a language policy or language guidelines on its website. For example, UCT policy states that English is the language of instruction and assessment, while University of Free State and Stellenbosch University maintains a policy that the language of assessment is student preference.

Be aware that some institutions have different language policies at different campuses; certain programmes may even have their own unique language requirements. If you have any question about language requirements, contact the relevant faculty at the institution where you are applying to check the language of instruction before registering for the NBTs.

What if I am applying to two institutions with different language policies?

There are two very general guidelines we can offer. Either chose the language of the programme that is your first choice; or, use English as the default language. However, you are the only one who can make this final decision.

I am a foreign student. May I use an interpreter?

No. The NBTs are designed to assess your abilities and skills in the language of instruction; also, some programmes specifically require the AQL test as an assessment of proficiency in English.

6. What does it cost to write the NBT?

Costs for the 2021 admission cycle are:

AQL only:       R 125
AQL and MAT: R 250

Please note that you may make changes to your online booking until the closing date posted on the test schedule. Registered applicants that do not report for the scheduled tests will be required to rebook the venue and date for the test and will be required to pay again in order to write the NBTs. Please note that you may not write only the MAT test.

7. How do I pay?

All NBT fees must be paid through EasyPay. Take your NBT registration letter with you to an EasyPay Paypoint near you to pay. You may also pay on the EasyPay website and then print out your receipt.

EasyPay Paypoints are found across South Africa at food stores including Pick N Pay, Shoprite, Checkers, and Spar, as well as many other merchant sites.

What if there are no Easypay paypoints near me?

Some of our students write in areas where Easypay paypoints and online facilities are not available (International students and countries bordering South Africa). The following details are for those particular students only:

Make a direct deposit or EFT payment to NBT Project as follow:

AQL only R125 or AQL and MATHS R250

Bank:                      Standard Bank

Account Name:         UCT

Account Number:      071503854

Branch Code:            025009

Reference:                NBT231500

IBAN / SWIFT Code:  SBZAZAJJ

Send confirmation of payment to the NBT Project by FAX:021-650-5331 or email:adp-cetap@uct.ac.za

Include your 14-digit NBT Reference Number, your name and ID number when sending confirmation of payment.

NB. Your scores will not be released if the NBT Project does not receive proof of payment.

8. Must I pay again for a rescheduled test?

If a test session is cancelled by the NBT Project and rescheduled for any reason (e.g. a change to the COVID National Risk Levels), and you are currently registered and have paid, you do not have to pay to write a rescheduled test.

9. How do I register for the NBTs?

Registrations are made on the NBT website - www.nbt.ac.za. Click on "book a test" and follow the prompts. At the end of registration you will be given the option to download or print the registration confirmation. Your NBT reference number will be on the statement.  Your NBT reference number is your EasyPay reference number against which you make payment.

10. Which device types are supported by the NBT online platform?

The table below has a list of minimum criteria of all supported devices.NB: CELLPHONES/IPAD's/TABLETs ARE NOT SUPPORTED!

11. What if I do not have access to any of the devices and/or facilities to write the NBT online? Will the written test still be available for me to access?

Writers who are unable to write online, should consider the pencil and paper tests, or remote sessions if appropriate. 

12. Can I use my mobile/cell phone to take the NBT test/assessment?

No, unfortunately, the NBT online assessment platform only supports Laptops and Computers. The device specification requirements are listed on the website; refer to FAQ 1 for details!

13. What happens if I lose internet connectivity during the test?

Should you lose internet connectivity during the test (5 minutes per hour) your responses will be saved to the system and once you reconnect you will be taken back to the last question answered. This functionality is part of the “Lockdown Browser” that all writers are required to download prior to the test. You should not exit the Lockdown Browser or your session will be lost. Once your internet connectivity is re-established the Lockdown Browser will automatically reconnect. The time allocated within which to complete the assessment will also not be affected and if before the disconnection there were 2 hours left then those 2 hours will be honoured by the platform.

14. I don't have a microphone or headset available. What do I need to do?

A headset will NOT be required as the test platform has a built in communication or “chat” function. This chat function will allow you to send real-time queries to a consultant who will assist.

15. If I cannot write online, can I book or write the pencil and paper test?

You may book to write the NBT pencil and paper test at the venue closest to you on a date indicated on the schedule. If there are no venues close to you, you may make use of our "remote"session facility.

16. If I am registered to write the AQL and MAT test how will this be done for the online test?

For NBT online tests , writers will usually write AQL in the first session, followed by MAT on the same day. Any deviation from this will be communicated to you.

17. If I am writing the online test, how long would I have to wait for my results?

Results will be sent to institutions three weeks after each writing session as shown on the NBT Test Schedule. Results are uploaded to writers' NBT account approximately four weeks after the writing session, by 12 noon on the date listed on the NBT Test Schedule. This helps ensure that learners wishing to write a second time have a minimum of six weeks between writing sessions.

18. Will I be disadvantaged if I do a pencil and paper test as opposed to the online test?

Both test forms are equivalent and no writer will be disadvantaged should they choose pencil and paper OR Online tests

19. NBT Online Test Rules

  • The NBT Online test is undertaken in a secure proctored online environment. You will be monitored throughout the test to ensure that you follow all testing procedures. Your entire test session will be recorded. Writers are required to comply with all test rules and requirements to avoid the invalidation of your test.
  • The test “Simulation” prior to the test day is compulsory. You will be advised of the date of this simulation for each test session. The simulation allows a trial run of the Photo ID verification process and ensure the Lockdown Browser downloads successfully to prevent any unexpected problems on the test day.
  • Please take note of the supported devices for taking the NBT test online (FAQ 1). 
  • You must have administrator rights on the computer as you are required to download the Lockdown Browser software onto the computer and may be prompted for the admin password.
  • The NBT Online test must be taken in a quiet room with a blank wall behind you, with good lighting.
  • The Laptop or Computer camera must be operational and facing your face at all times during the test, otherwise, your session may be invalidated. There is a photo panel visible to you during your test so that you can check your camera is functional and your face visible.
  • Your face must be visible so no hoodies or clothing that completely obscures the face are allowed.
  • You may not wear headphones during the test session.
  • No other person may enter the room during your test session. Movement in the room will be picked up by the camera and will invalidate your test session.
  • You may only have a piece of paper and a pen/pencil in the test room. Books, cell phones, smart watches, calculators, and any other items are strictly prohibited. These items will be picked up by the system and will invalidate your test session.
  • Bathroom breaks are permitted but must be less than 5 minutes in duration. 
  • You may have a bottle of water (or other liquid refreshment) with you during the test.

20. Should I choose to write Online or the Pencil and Paper Test?

You should choose the test form that suits you the best. The tests are equilibrated so there is no difference in writing the online or pencil and paper form of the NBT. The online test is convenient as you would normally write the test at home, but you will need a computer that meets the minimum specification and have stable internet access and sufficient bandwidth or data. Or you may prefer to write in a test venue using the pencil and paper form of the NBT, in which case you should book your test in a venue closest to you on a date that suits you.

Pages