What is the NBT test?

The NBT test was implemented in 2008 and is a set of tests that assess students’ academic literacy, general knowledge, and mathematical skill in an effort to measure academic readiness for university.The NBT tests are managed by the Alternative Admissions Research Project at the University of Cape Town. NBT results are used by many universities as an extra admission criterion for applicants to their institutions. They serve to complement and support, rather than replace or duplicate NSC results. Dr Abbey Mathekga, the head of the higher education enrolment programme, said: “They [the NBTs] are intended to identify learners who might have problems in certain subjects. They are also aimed at determining the level of competency of learners in certain learning areas.” The NBT consists of two tests: the MAT and the AQL. The AQL combines Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy in one multiple-choice test requiring three hours writing time. The MAT (Mathematics) is also a multiple-choice test with three hours allowed. Click here to view our NBT courses

Nervous about your upcoming NBT test, not sure how to prepare? Let us put you at ease!

Our courses prepare students for both papers of the National Benchmark Test (NBT) – the MAT and the AQL. Consisting of videos where experienced, engaging teachers are in front of the camera covering practice examples of what you might expect in the NBT. Included in the courses are notes to download, practice quizzes to see how you’re doing and a forum to ask questions directly to the teacher and other students. The more you engage with the material you’re watching the better you will do. Press pause, watch again, try on your own and learn from the best!
Click here to view our NBT courses

How to prepare for the NBTs

Advantage Learn offers NBT Preperation courses, both blended and online.
This course is recommended for all students wanting to prepare and do well in their NBT. With many years experience in preparing students for the NBT coupled with a world class online learning environment and exceptional educators, we are well placed to give you peace of mind with this challenging test. Since formally commencing NBT training in 2013, Advantage Learn has helped over 5000 students across South Africa to prepare for this test. We will be visiting more cities and towns in 2017.
Our carefully designed courses prepare students for both papers of the National Benchmark Test (NBT) – the MAT and AQL. Please note that the AQL test is compulsory for ALL grade 12 students wishing to apply to tertiary institutions. It is important that you do this course at the appropriate time for your NBT. Our course includes the following: training of essential sections known to be tested regularly in the NBTs, test day best practices, how to go about answering multiple choice questions, extensive practice examples and a full mock exam.
Click here to view our NBT courses

NBT Preparation Courses

We offer the following types of NBT courses:

When should I do my NBT course?

We find that it is best to do the course relatively close to when you write your test. Depending on how much time you have available to study, you should do the course one-two weeks prior to your test. You should book your test date before booking your course.

NBT Preparation course in-person:

The in – person course is an 8 – hour course where the teacher covers predominantly material tested in the MAT. Our students will be referred to the AL and QL components in our online course for study. The NBT preparation courses are run on the weekend (and some public holidays). Some courses are full day courses (9 hours) and others are split over Saturday and Sunday mornings (4.5 hours each) . This was carefully thought out in an effort to accommodate sporting commitments as well as those students who battle to concentrate for long stretches at a time.

Click here to view our NBT courses

  • A printed workbook
  • Access to online course training MAT, AL & QL from prior to the course day until the end of 2017.
  • A mock NBT

NBT Preparation online course:

Made up of just over 9 hours of tutorial videos led by our Maths and English experts, the course focuses on covering key concepts tested in the NBT as well as test day best practices. Students have full access to the material from the purchase date until the end of 2017. Students are able to work at their own pace, at any time of the day, in accordance with their NBT date. There are teaching videos, practice questions, quizzes, downloadable notes, a mock NBT for the MAT & QL and a forum for asking questions directly to the teacher and other students. The more you engage with the material you are watching the better you will do. Press pause, watch again, try the examples on your own and learn at your own pace. You can access the online courses at any time of the day/night – that is the beauty of online learning!

2017 NBT Course Dates and Venues – Provisional

Click here to view our NBT courses

*Please note these dates are provisional and bookings will only open once the dates and venues have been finalised.

Month Date(s) Language Location
April 30th-1st Afrikaans Durban
May 6th-7th English JHB
May 6th-7th Afrikaans Belville
May 13th-14th English Durban
May 13th-14th Afrikaans Nelspruit
May 13th-14th English Pretoria
May 13th-14th English Cape Town
May 20th-21st Afrikaans Bethlehem
May 20th-21st English PMB
May 20th-21st English Durban
May 20th-21st English PE
May 28th-29th Afrikaans JHB
May 28th-29th English Durban
June 3rd-4th English JHB
June 3rd-4th English Durban
June 10th-11th Afrikaans Potchefstroom
June 10th-11th English Durban
June 17th-18th English Cape Town
June 17th-18th English Durban
June 23rd-24th English JHB
June 23rd-24th English Durban
June 23rd-24th English JHB
June 23rd-24th Afrikaans Belville
July 1st-2nd Afrikaans Bloemfontein
July 1st-2nd English Durban
July 8th-9th English JHB
July 8th-9th English Durban
July 15th-16th English JHB
July 15th-16th English Durban
August 5th-6th English JHB
August 5th-6th English Durban

What does the NBT test assess?

The NBT test assesses readiness for tertiary study.

The AQL (compulsory for all students who are applying to tertiary study) aims to test proficiency in language comprehension as well as logic based numerical skills. It assesses knowledge learned in the senior high school phase. It aims to assess whether students will be able to apply knowledge learnt in high school to the tertiary context. The AQL section comprises approximately 75 multiple-choice questions.

  • The Academic Literacy (AL) sections will require reading of various texts with multiple choice questions referring to the text. Some questions are general knowledge based. Questions on grammar, punctuation, vocabulary are included. It predominantly assesses the ability to understand the meaning and application of various texts as well as understanding and applying the argument or main point of the author.
  • The Quantitative Literacy (QL) sections assess a student’s capacity to: understand basic numerical concepts, read and interpret graphs, reason logically and identify patterns and trends. It is largely based on the Grade 11 Maths Literacy syllabus.

The MAT paper is a separate three hour paper (only written by students applying for certain degree programmes and who have done Core Maths at school) and assesses mostly Grade 11 Core Maths syllabus content although some Grade 12 work is included. It also takes a multiple choice format. It tests proficiency in such areas as problem solving and modeling, functions, trigonometry, spatial perception, and probability.
Both the AQL and MAT are differentiated into cognitive levels, meaning there is a range in difficulty in each section – with the easier applications generally coming first.
Click here to view our NBT courses

What are the NBT tests like?

The NBTs are multiple choice tests. Both the AQL and MAT test are 3 hours long. Answers are recorded on what is called a “bubble sheet”. The answer sheets are scanned and then transferred into scores using sophisticated computer software. The AQL is made up of 25 minute sections. You may not refer back or go forward but can only work in the specified 25 minute section. The MAT is not made up of sections in this way.

Do I need to write the NBT? And if so, when do I need to write it?

Many South African universities require applicants to write the NBTs. There is an intake cycle for each tertiary year, generally starting in June the year before. The NBT dates reflect this cycle and start testing towards the end of May for the upcoming year to ensure all university application dates can utilise the NBT. All students wishing to apply to university should write at their earliest opportunity, although it is your choice on which date you want to write. As tertiary institutions cannot complete your application until they have your NBT scores, students need to write at their earliest possible date in accordance with their chosen university and degree programme requirements. Available data by the NBT suggests that learners who write the tests later in the year have no advantage over those writing in earlier sessions.
Having said that, you should write the NBTs when you feel ready. If you feel that you may benefit from further revision, and you do not have an early university application date (it can be as early as June for medical students), you may choose to write your test later in the cycle. The NBTs are available from the end of May until the first Saturday in January of the following year. This means that you could wait to write your NBT until you finish your syllabus. You must decide for yourself when you want to write – before or after your exams.
Keep in mind that different institutional and faculty requirements determine the deadlines for learners to submit NBT results, which may be as early as June or July. You must meet the closing dates and deadlines for the institutions where you are applying. You should also allow time for your NBTs to be processed and the results sent to institutions (approx 6 weeks after writing). Some universities/departments accept applications with proof that you have written the NBT without having received the actual results.
From Advantage Learns experience and certainly our NBT expert and tutor, Mrs Pike, we recommend that students should write this test as early as possible in the year and definitely before trials. The earlier a student writes, the less content they have to learn for the test. Up until the end of June, the content tested is predominantly Grade 11 work and the first term of Grade 12 (Sequences and Grade 12 Trig).
This makes the July holidays(4 term schools) ideal to give yourself enough time to prepare properly. Those applying for Medical and Health Science degrees have until the end of the first week in July to write their NBTs.
If you are wanting to come on one of our preparation courses, then you should try to write your NBT test about a week later. Time must be given to working through the workbook and AQL modules before writing the NBT test.

Click here to view our NBT courses


Please don’t just book a test date because that is the exam venue you want to write at. ALL venues are very good exam venues.
Ultimately, when you write your NBT test is up to you and when you can best fit it into your school and sporting schedule but in our experience, as we have said, the earlier in your Grade 12 year you write it, the better.

We have summarised some helpful tips for you below according to our recommendation. Please note, Advantage Learn cannot speak on behalf of the NBT nor the institutions themselves.

Table 1: Universities and Departments NBT Requirements*

University Required? Department
UCT Yes All
Wits Yes Health Sciences
Stellenbosch Yes All
Rhodes Yes All
Tuks Yes Health & Veterinary Science
UFS Yes All
UKZN Yes Medicine

Degree Recommended MAT or NBT result to aim for
Medicine before 2nd week July Both 90% 70% 80%
Engineering Built Environment before 2nd week July Both 80% 65% 80%
Business Science before August Both 75% 65% 60%
BCom before August Both 60% 60% 50%
Health Science before August Both 70% 70% 70%
BSc Before Trial exams Both 65% 65% 60%
BA Law Before Trial exams AQL 60% 50%

*Each institution determines which tests are required i.e the university and faculty where you apply will determine which tests you must write (AQL or MAT, or both). Please check with each institution/faculty where you intend to apply, before you register for the NBTs with regards to their application requirements including closing dates and deadlines for receiving NBT results. Please note that each university has different requirements and each faculty may require different tests or have different deadlines.

How do I book an NBT?

Registration for the NBTs is done online and takes about 5 minutes. NBT registration for the 2018 intake opens on 1st April 2017. Follow this link to book your test.

Note: you will need your official South African ID or foreign passport in order to complete the registration process.

Your registration is only valid for the specific date and location you select and must be done at least three weeks before you wish to write. It is your responsibility to register early enough to ensure a place on one of the national test days at your chosen venue. There is a full list of available test days and venues on the NBT website. If you do not have access to the internet, or encounter problems during the registration process, you may either call 021-650-3523 or send an e-mail to nbt@uct.ac.za for assistance.

Click here to view our NBT courses

How much does the NBT cost?

Test fees are non-refundable and can be paid at any EasyPay point. Fees for the 2017 Admission cycle are: AQL only R80 AQL and MAT R160. Should you miss the test for which you were registered, you will need to reregister and pay again. Why do I have to
register? The NBT project and the local venues guarantee space and materials ONLY for students who have registered to write at a specific venue on a specific day.

What are the available dates to write my NBT?

NBT registration for the 2018 intake opens on 1st April 2017. All test dates for the 2018 intake cycle (21 May – 9 January) will be available to book from 1st April. The tests will run on the weekend, every week or every second week from the 21st May 2017 – 5 January 2018. Follow this link for all the NBT dates for 2017.

Where can I write the NBT test?

There are various centres across South Africa where you can write your NBT. Click on the following link for a list of all the venue sites across the country. Choose a venue that is convenient for you to get to with this link

What time are the NBT tests?

The AQL is written in the morning (3 hours writing time), and writers must be at the test venue by 07:30. The MAT is written in the afternoon on the same day, with a short lunch break between the two tests. The MAT also has 3 hours writing time. No learner is allowed to arrive at mid-day to write just the MAT test. If you are writing the MAT test, you must write it on the same day as you write the AQL test.

Click here to view our NBT courses

NBT test, what to bring

  • Your ID Book, passport, or a certified receipt of application for South African ID
  • Your registration letter and EasyPay proof of payment (without this you will not be allowed to write the NBTs – the venue administrator will stamp the receipt and return it to you)
  • Two HB pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener
  • Lunch and water, if you are writing both tests
  • DO NOT bring calculators, rulers, dictionaries, scrap paper, notebooks or ipads, tablets or phones

NOTE that learners without an official ID will be turned away and not allowed to write (except where the following documentation is provided – a birth certificate with an affidavit from the police including a recent photograph and a letter of application for ID from Home Affairs).

What to expect on the NBT test day?

YOU MUST CHECK IN AT 7:30AM. The test venue door closes at 8:30 after which no one is allowed inside the test room.

  • 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 Chief 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
  • Note that bathroom breaks are not allowed. Plan ahead, and remember that the writing session is 3 hours long

In what languages can I write the NBTs?

The NBTs are available in English and Afrikaans. When you register you will be asked to indicate the language in which you wish to write.
Click here to view our NBT courses
Note that you can only use one language i.e there is no option to write one test in English and the other in Afrikaans.

How do I get my NBT test results?

You can access your results by logging onto the NBT website (www.nbt.ac.za) with your ID or by sending a request to nbt@uct.ac.za approximately 5/6 weeks after you have written your test. If you are having difficulty accessing your results, you should send an e-mail to request them. NBT Project staff are not allowed to release your results over the phone.

To request your NBT results you need:

  • Your ID number
  • Your full names (as provided on the NBT answer sheet)
  • Your surname (as provided on the NBT answer sheet)

For your NBT results, please click this link.
Click here to view our NBT courses

Can I write the NBTs more than once?

Some universities do allow their applicants to write the NBT more than once in an attempt to achieve a better result the second time around. However you need to check with the specific faculty and tertiary institution that you are applying to, to make sure that this is the case as not every university will accept the second result.
Note If you do choose to write a second time, you should give yourself at least 6 weeks between writing sessions.If you write the MAT test a second time, you must also write the AQL test a second time on the same morning.

Brandon 05/09/2016

This course is where the party is at. As a direct result of the tools Trish and her team gave me I was able to achieve a mark much higher than those around me who did not attend. 10/10.

Click here to view our NBT courses

Bayan Ashoori 30/08/2016

After writing my NBTs I am truly thankful for the preparation I received through this course. Great in-depth videos, and similar questions to the ones you will see in the NBT. One thing that stood out of this course is its user-friendliness and its approach to learning – exceptional website design I might add. Some tips for those writing the NBT: go through the online videos, pace yourself during the exam (more in the AQL than the MAT) and don’t stress too much. Once again, I thank the Advantage Learn team and support center for being very helpful.
Click here to view our NBT courses

Naomi Beth 14/07/2016

I do not know where I would be without Advantage Learn. All the little tips, formulas and reminders do truly add up and have allowed me to feel much more confident about writing my NBTs. Very worthwhile and highly recommended!
Click here to view our NBT courses

Lauren 13/01/2016

In addition to the many burdens that come with being in Matric, having to write the National Benchmark Test is a very daunting prospect. A majority of schools do not have time to place any focus or emphasis on this test which often leaves learners stressed, confused and unsure where to begin.

Many people make the mistakes of underestimating the NBT as well as thinking that you do not need to prepare for it and this can severely jeopardise their results. If you are a student who does well at school it does not necessarily mean that you will do well in the NBT as the questions require a certain mindset and technique. This is where the advantage learn course is so valuable as it teaches you the technique to help you to do the best you possibly can as well as providing you with numerous practice questions, notes and examples.

One of the major benefits of doing the Advantage Learn NBT course was simply to gain insight on what to expect as well as the format that the exam takes. This helped to reduce a lot of nervousness on the day of the exam as we knew exactly what to expect. Mrs Pike is a knowledgable, experienced and dedicated teacher who seems to know every trick in the book, she has written the NBT herself in order to gain a better understanding of the test which allows her to pass on first hand knowledge to learners.

Getting a good result on the NBT immediately puts you at a huge advantage and gives you an infinite number of options when it comes to choosing your degree, being accepted into the university of your choice and getting a place in a good residence.

After having done the Advantage Learn ‘In Person’ course and the online courses I felt fully prepared for the exam and I achieved excellent results which ensured my acceptance for Occupational Therapy at UCT. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to do well in the NBT!
Click here to view our NBT courses

NBT Season is upon us!

Want to get the best NBT result you can? Take this one-of-a-kind online course to help you prepare for your NBTs.

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