National Benchmark Test NBT UWC

National Benchmark Test NBT UWC

Would I need to write an admissions/placement test?

The minimum admission requirement to study for a first degree is the National Senior Certificate (NSC) with an achievement rating of 4 (Adequate achievement, 50 – 59%) or better in four subjects chosen from the designated subject list. For those who wrote the Senior Certificate examination, an NSC Bachelors Endorsement is the minimum requirement.

The test is written to provide institutions with information for research purposes and to assist in the placement process (where required).

Besides these minimum requirements, faculties often have additional requirements which are linked to specific programme choices. For more information about these specific programme, requirements consult the Admission Requirements webpage.


The National Benchmark Tests (NBT) are an assessment for prospective first-year entry students into Higher Education. The NBT was designed to measure an applicant’s ability to transfer understanding of Academic Literacy, Quantitative Literacy, and Mathematics to the demands of tertiary coursework.

It also provides information to assist in the placement of applicants in appropriate curricular routes (e.g. regular, augmented, extended, bridging or foundation programmes) and with the development of curriculum for Higher Education programmes. In addition, the NBT assists Institutions of Higher Education with interpreting school-leaving results such as those of the National Senior Certificate.

There are two tests. The Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy domains (AQL) are combined into one multiple-choice test. Each section is timed, for a total of three hours and five minutes of writing time. The second test is Mathematics (MAT), which is also multiple-choice and timed, with three hours allowed. Although the NBT’s address content is typically taught in secondary school they provide different and complementary information to the “school-leaving” exams.


In addition to providing information to institutions, writing these tests could also benefit you in the following ways:

  1. You may receive an early provisional offer of admission if you perform well on the tests;
  2. You improve your chances of receiving an offer of an entrance scholarship if you perform well;
  3. You may improve your chances of admission if you were on a waiting list.


Registration to write the NBT’s is done through the internet and takes about five minutes to complete. Open your web browser to After reading the general information and the FAQ’s, select “Register to Write” and follow all the instructions. Note that you will need your South African ID or foreign passport in order to complete the registration process.

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 email to for assistance. The NBT Project helpline is staffed from 08:00 to 18:00 on weekdays and from 07:30 to 11:30 on national test days.


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Test fees are non-refundable and can be paid at an Easy Pay point. Fees for the 2018 Admission cycle are:

AQL only R 80

AQL and MAT R160

Remark R250

Registration is valid only for the specific date and location you select and must be done at least three weeks prior to the desired test date. There is no late registration process. Should you miss the test for which you registered, you must register and pay again. Note that results are released only for paid tests.


The university and faculty where you apply will determine which test/s you must write. Each institution’s application requirements will include closing dates and deadlines for receiving NBT results. Please note that sometimes departments within the same faculty may require different tests or have different deadlines. In general, the AQL Test is written by applicants for all programmes while both tests are written by applicants to programmes for which mathematics is a requirement. Please check the requirements of the faculty where you are applying before you register.

Please Note:

You may write the NBTs at any test centre; all universities to which you apply can receive your results.

If required to write mathematics, you must write both tests on the same day.

You are allowed to write the NBTs a second time, but it is not permissible to write only MAT. The NBT Project will report both results, but some faculties only accept the first result.

The NBTs are intended to assess your competence in the language of instruction at the tertiary level. The language policy where you intend to study will determine whether you write the NBTs in English or Afrikaans.


The NBT assesses a writer’s proficiency levels in three content areas, focusing on the following:


Make meaning from text, typical to that encountered in tertiary studies;

  • Understand vocabulary related to academic study, in context;

  • Identify and track points and claims made in texts;

  • Evaluate evidence used to support writers’ claims;

  • Extrapolate and draw inferences and conclusions from the text;

  • Differentiate main from supporting ideas in the overall and specific organisation of a passage;

  • Identify text differences that relate to writers’ purposes, audiences, and kinds of communication;

  • Understand and interpret information that is presented visually (e.g. tables and flow-charts); and

  • Understand basic numerical concepts and information used in text.


Select and use a range of quantitative terms and phrases;

  • Apply quantitative procedures in various situations;

  • Formulate and apply formulae;

  • Interpret tables, graphs, charts and text and integrate information from different sources;

  • Do calculations involving multiple steps accurately;

  • Identify trends and patterns in various situations;

  • Apply properties of simple geometric shapes to determine measurements;

  • Reason logically; and

  • Interpret quantitative information presented verbally, symbolically, and graphically.


Understand and apply properties of the real number system;

  • Recognise and use patterns, including sequences and series;

  • Apply relationships such as ratios and percentages in a variety of contexts;

  • Use surds, logarithms and exponents in a variety of algebraic and numerical contexts, including the solution of exponential equations and financial calculations;

  • Carry out algebraic manipulations, apply these in the solution of equations and inequalities;

  • Solve problems using mathematical process skills;

  • Understand function concept and identify properties of functions, such as domain and range, in the context of straight lines, parabolas, hyperbolas, exponential and logarithmic graphs, and trigonometric graphs (sine, cosine, tangent);

  • Identify relationships between graphs and their equations, or inequalities and the regions they describe;

  • Interpret transformations of functions represented algebraically or graphically;

  • Apply trigonometric concepts in solving problems;

  • Understand and use trigonometric identities in solving equations;

  • Understand properties and interpret representations of two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes;

  • Solve problems relating to the perimeter, area, volume;

  • Apply principles of analytic geometry;

  • Interpret various representations and measures of data; and

  • Use logical skills in making deductions and determining the validity of given assertions.


The AQL is written in the morning, and writers must be at the test venue by 07h30. The MAT is written in the afternoon on the same day as the AQL after a short lunch break. On the morning of the tests, you must bring:

  • Your ID Book, passport, or certified receipt of the application for South African ID.

  • Two HB pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener.

  • Lunch and water, if you are writing both tests.

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Note: Do not bring calculators, rulers or dictionaries.


The Academic and Quantitative Literacy (AQL) test must be written by ALL UWC provisionally accepted applicants. This test is usually written during the morning session, and applicants writing this test should be at the test venue by 07h30 (or earlier) on the test date. The only applicants, who are not expected to write this test, are those who have already written it for another university or faculty.

The Mathematics test must be written by ALL UWC provisionally accepted applicants to programmes that require the Mathematics test (REFER to NBT’S required for specific UWC Faculties/Programmes).

The Mathematics test is written in addition to the AQL test and is held on the same day as the AQL test (with a short break between the two tests). Applicants may not register to write the AQL and Mathematics tests on different dates, as a single registration form is used for both tests. The only applicants who may register to write the Mathematics test without writing the AQL test, are those who have already written the AQL test for another university or faculty.

Please Note: You need only write the tests once, even if you are applying to more than one university.

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All universities to which you apply will be able to access your test results.  If you are applying to more than one university, and if at least one university /faculty that you are applying to requires you to write the test prior to admission, then you need to register and pay for one of the test dates even if you are also applying to a university that will write the test during registration/orientation.

A complete schedule with all locations where you can write is on the NBT website, or contact NBT Call centre at (021) 650-3523.

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