National Benchmark Tests: Everything You Need To Know

Writing your National Benchmark Tests is a requirement to gain admission to a South African University. Apply early to take the next step toward your future.

If you are almost writing your National Benchmark Tests or thinking about taking this test, this article will tell you everything you need to know about NBTs.

What Is A National Benchmark Test?

The National Benchmark Tests or NBTs are assessments which students should take to apply for higher education studies. These tests will measure your writing abilities to understand:

  • Academic and Quantitative Literacy
  • Mathematics

It is compulsory that you do both of these tests when you write the National Benchmark Tests.


This is the Academic and Quantitative Literacy test which will be written for 3 hours long. It will test you on your language comprehension and logic-based numerical skills. This test will also be available in both Afrikaans and English.


This test will consist of multiple choice questions based on the mathematical understanding of the student. It will test your logic and reasoning skills and the mathematical syllabus such as

  • Algebra
  • Trignomotry
  • Geometry
  • Statistics

You are also not allowed to use a calculator during this test. But you should not be concerned because you will be provided with a formula sheet and additional paper to do your calculations on. The test will also be structured in a way that it is possible to complete without using a calculator.

What Are The Three Purposes Of the National Benchmark Tests?

There are three purposes for writing the National Benchmark Tests. These are:

  1. The tests will assess entry-level mathematics skills and academic literacy
  2. You will be tested on the relationship between school exit results and entry-level skills

To provide the institution with information on how to admit and place entry-level students

How Do You Pass The NBTs?

There is no pass mark for the National Benchmark Tests.

The scores you get will be placed on a benchmark band, and this will assist the University in deciding if you are ready for University studies. So you cannot pass or fail the NBTs because it is only a test on readiness for higher education.

Is The National Benchmark Test Difficult?

No, it is not. If you prepare well for your tests, for example going through your schoolwork, going through practice questions or reading up on NBTs, you will be fine. They can be scary because you will need to think a little further with each question and the format they are asking them in might be challenging.

How To Register For A National Benchmark Test?

You need to register for the National Benchmark Test online on their website. You will need to have the following to book your test:

  • Your ID
  • The city and site where you would like to write
  • You will need the NBT requirements from the institution you are applying at
  • Choose a date when you want to write, but allow a 4-week period before this date to receive your results
  • Have a paper and pen to record your EasyPay number and username

What Happens If I Fail NBTs?

Technically, you cannot fail the National Benchmark Tests.

The results you get will place you on a benchmark, and universities will use these statistics to decide whether you will be accepted for the qualification you want to study for. 

Who Writes A National Benchmark Test?

Students who want to study further at a University. If you want to attend college as a first-year, you will need to write the National Benchmark Tests. This will evaluate how ready you are for further studies. You will also only need to write this test once and not every time you start a new year of your studies.

Why Should Grade 12 Learners Write Their NBTs?

Because it will help Grade 12 learners interpret their National Senior Certificate results. When you want to apply to University after finishing your Matric, it is important to do your NBTs while you are still in High School when the information is still fresh in your mind. In this way, you have enough time to make the right choice for your future before missing the chance to write your NBTs.

How Much Will It Cost To Write A National Benchmark Test?

The National benchmark test consists of two tests you must write. Here are the prices.

Test name


Academic and Quantitative Literacy test only


Both the Academic and Quantitative Literacy and Mathematics tests


Re-marking of tests


How Many Questions Are In The NBTs?

The total questions on each of the tests are as follows:

Academic Literacy: 75 questions

Quantitative Literacy: 50 questions

Mathematics: 60 questions

This means there will be a total of 185 questions you must complete altogether.


These tests are only based on multiple choice questions, questions which can be challenging when the answers look almost identical to each other. 


Both the MAT and AQL tests will take 3 hours each to complete.

How Do I Get My NBT Test Results?

Here are the steps you will need to follow to view your NBT test results after you have written them:

Step 1: You must log into the NBT website here

Step 2: In order for you to log in, you must type in your password, username and ID number you used to register with

Step 3: After logging in, you will be provided your NBT results

Step 4: You can also get your results by sending an email to [email protected]

Step 5: You can request your result 4 weeks after you have written them

Your NBT results will be valid for you to use for University admission for the next 3 years after writing them. 

Will Writing NBTs Be A Positive Step for My Future?

Yes, it will be. This will be your ticket to University. If you plan to study for a degree or even further, you will need to write your NBTs to gain access to a University for further education. You have nothing to lose by writing the NBTs because you will neither pass nor fail! Apply today.

Author: Esmari Pool
Editor:Sive Ncanywa
Date: August 05 , 2022