The National Benchmark Test (NBT) is a standardized test that is used by many universities in South Africa as additional admission criteria. It consists of two assessments, AQL and MAT, and is designed to measure a student’s academic readiness for higher education. In this blog, we will cover everything you need to know about the NBT, including what to expect on test day, which tests to write, and tips for preparation.

Which test should I write?

Not all universities require you to write the NBTs, and some universities only require you to write one of the tests. The university and faculty you are applying to will determine which test you should write. It is important to check the following before registering for the test:

  • Check if the NBT tests are compulsory for your degree.
  • Which test do you need to write for the faculty you’re applying to?
  • What are the deadlines for your university application?

To make this process easier, we have put together an NBT university requirements PDF for 2024 admissions.

What should I know about the NBT?

The NBT is composed of two assessments, AQL and MAT. The AQL NBT paper aims to test proficiency in language comprehension and logic-based numerical skills, while the MAT NBT paper tests proficiency in problem-solving and modelling, functions, trigonometry, spatial perception, and probability. Both tests are in the form of multiple choice, and you have to write both tests on the same day, starting with the AQL in the morning and MAT in the afternoon.

Can I write the tests more than once?

Yes, you can write the tests more than once, but there are a few things you should consider:

  • You will need to pay for both tests each time you write them.
  • You will have to write both tests again, even if you only wanted to write one.
  • Not all universities take your second test result.
  • You have to wait six weeks between your writing sessions, meaning you may not have enough time to write the second one.

What to expect on the NBT test day?

The NBT is undertaken in a secure proctored online environment where you will be monitored during the test or at a physical venue. Each test is multiple choice and has a duration of 3 hours with a short lunch break between. You may only have a piece of paper and a pencil in the test room. You may not bring cell phones, smart watches, calculators, books, and any other items. Make sure you leave them outside the room to avoid the invalidation of your test.

How to prepare for the NBT?

Preparing for the NBT can be challenging, but there are many resources available to help you. We offer online courses and workshops to help you prepare, and you can find our nbt catalogue on our website. Moreover, online practice tests and study guides are available to help you gain a better understanding of the test’s content.

As a result, the NBT can greatly impact your chances of being accepted into university. Make sure you are well prepared and understand which test you need to write for your degree and faculty. Take advantage of the resources available to you and approach the test with confidence. Good luck!

This article was originally published on 10 May 2023

About the author
Josefina Aguirre

I am a Copywriter and Content Creator for I enjoy being creative and have a passion for people and crafting compelling content, I hope to inspire the next generation of learners and changemakers.

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