If you’ve started your university application process, then you’ve probably come across something called the National Benchmark Test (NBT). The NBT is an independently administered set of exams that tests your academic ability and readiness for university.
A number of higher education institutions in South Africa require you to write the NBT as part of the application process. So we thought it would be useful to dedicate this blog post to telling you everything you need to know about the NBT.
Everything you need to know about the National Benchmark Test
Implemented in 2008, the NBT is a set of tests designed to assess your academic literacy, general knowledge and mathematical ability in order to measure academic readiness for university. Some universities use it in addition to the National Senior Certificate (NSC) for access to higher education while others may use the tests to determine what level of learning support a student will need during the course of their studies.
The NBT is comprised of two separate tests. The Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy (AQL) test is a three-hour, multiple choice exam that must be written by applicants for all university programmes. The second test, Mathematics (MAT), is also a three-hour, multiple choice exam, which must be written by applicants to programmes for which mathematics is a requirement, such as Health Sciences, Engineering, Accounting and most of the sciences. While the AQL can be written on it’s own (if you’re not applying for a degree with maths), the MAT test cannot be written as a stand alone test and you must also write the AQL. It’s very important to note that different universities and faculties will have different requirements and deadlines for the NBT so make sure you check their websites and book your test accordingly.
How to register and book your NBT
There are a few easy steps to follow to register for the NBT. Firstly, check with the university you are applying to if you need to write the NBT and, if so, which test (just AQL or AQL and MAT). Then register on the NBT website and pay at an EasyPay paypoint or on their website. Please note that you will need your ID number in order to register and you MUST have your ID book with you when you write the test.
How to prepare for the NBT
Now that you have registered and booked your test, the next step is to make sure you are prepared. While there are no specific resources for studying for the NBT, there are two useful booklets in the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section of the NBT website, which will give you a sense of how to prepare. These booklets contain sample questions that you can practice to get a feel for what’s in the tests. As with any exam, you should make sure you have prepared in advance by practicing some questions and make sure you get a good nights rest the night before and arrive at the venue with ample time.
When to write the NBT
There is no ‘right’ time to write the NBT and there are slots available to take the tests between May and January. You should write when you feel comfortable but please note that writing later in the year does not necessarily give you an advantage. If you feel you need extra time for revision, then you should write later in the cycle but make sure that you are within the deadlines set by your university or faculty. The results can take up to three weeks to reach the institution so be sure to factor this into your time frames.
Writing the NBT is an important step towards getting accepted to your university of choice. The NBT website is full of useful information if you still have any questions. Best of luck with this next step in your academic journey!