When it comes to applying to study at a South African university, chances are that the mention of a placement test (National Benchmark Test) is high. But what exactly is the National Benchmark Test (NBT), how does it work and why do I need it?
What is the National Benchmark Test (NBT)?
The National Benchmark Test is a test that universities provide to matriculants to determine their readiness for tertiary education.
The NBTs are there to complement and support your National Senior Certificate (NSC) results rather than to replace and duplicate it.
A number of SA universities use the NBTs as a means to make decisions over student placement. They decide whether students need additional academic support after admission to a university. It also assists with developing curricula within the university.
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What Kind of NBTs Are There?
There are two (2) kinds of tests within the NBT:
- The AQL Test – The Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy Test; and
- The MAT Test – Mathematics Test.
The tests are taken on the same day, with each test consisting of multiple-choice questions and lasting 3 hours each. The AQL test takes place in the morning, while students write the MAT test in the afternoon on the same day.
Additionally, students who are heading into a department/college that does not offer Mathematics has no need to do the MAT test. The choice of writing the MAT test or not is determined by that specific universities’ faculty.
Students only need to write the NBT once, no matter how many universities they apply to. It is possible to write the NBT a second time. However, not every institution will accept the second result.
There’s no need to be concerned over when exactly applicants write their NBTs – those that write earlier in the year have zero advantage to those who write later in the year.
At the same time, remember that applicants have to write their NBT in accordance with the university’s admission deadline of their choice.
View the 2019 calendar for the 2020 intakes here. Note that while tests usually occur on a Saturday, it is possible to write the tests on a Friday or Sunday (refer to schedule).
How Do I Register for the NBT?
Students can register online to write the NBT. Students will need the following in order to register:
- ID Book;
- E-Mail Address;
- Place where to write the NBT;
- NBT requirements from the various applicable institutions’ students intend to apply;
- Preferred date to write the NBT;
- Pen + Paper to record username and EasyPay number.
Registration for the 2019 academic cycle costs:
- AQL only: R100
- AQL and MAT: R200
Payments can be made through EasyPay (either online or at a nearest EasyPay PayPoint). Registered NBT students will get a confirmation notification via email/SMS of your test venue when closer to the date.
Applicants that missed their scheduled tests will have to re-register and pay to reschedule the writing of the NBTs.
To register for the second time, students do not need to redo an application and instead use the same login details as before. The dates between the first and the second NBT has to span at least six (6) weeks from each other.
For more information on the NBT, you can contact them on the following outlets:
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Last Updated: 24 July 2019