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What to expect




The National Benchmark Tests (NBT) measure your academic readiness for University. Some South African universities use the NBTs in addition to the National Senior Certificate (NSC) for access to higher education, while others use the tests to determine the kind of learning support a student will need during their studies.


  • Two days before the test for which you have registered, you will receive an sms and an email confirming your test venue.
  • There are two tests, the AQL and the MAT. The AQL is written in a 3 hour morning session. The MAT is written on the same day in a 3 hour afternoon session.
  • You are not allowed to write the AQL test on one day and the MAT test on another.
  • Each university and faculty determines which tests must be written and the deadline to receive results.
  • A Sunday session is offered at major test sites to accommodate applicants who cannot write on Saturday.
  • You must be at the check-in desk by 7:30 AM on your scheduled test date.
  • You must use your name as printed on your official ID when registering and when writing. Your ID will be checked before you are allowed to write on test day.
  • Registration is date and site specific; learners who do not report as scheduled must re-schedule and pay for the initial test as well as the re-scheduled make-up test.
  • Get a good night's sleep and be sure to have your travel plans firm.
  • At check-in, you will be given an answer sheet with your name and ID number printed on the back. 
  • Once you are seated inside the test room, carefully check the printed name.  
  • You will be given instructions by the Senior Invigilator how to make corrections.
  • You must show your official ID to an invigilator before the test begins. 
  • Place your ID beside the answer sheet, along with your pencils and eraser. Everything else must be placed on the floor.
  • Now you can close your eyes, relax and prepare your mind while you wait for the session to begin. Note that bathroom breaks are not allowed. Plan ahead, and remember that the writing session is 3 hours.   


Download some English exemplar questions from the AQL test and the MAT test to get a feel for the kind of questions you will be faced with in the NBTs.

Download Afrikaans exemplar questions from the AQL test; Download Afrikaans exemplar questions from the MAT test.

You will need 

You may not use the following

  • Paid test fees
  • 7:30 AM check-in
  • South African ID book/card or passport
  • Sharpened pencils (2) and eraser
  • Lunch and water


  • calculator
  • ruler
  • dictionary
  • scrap paper
  • notebooks
  • smart phones, iPads, Tablets, smart watches