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FAQs about the National Benchmark Tests

by Staff Reporter

Still confused about those NBTs you need to write? The National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) are a set of tests that measure your academic readiness for university. In Monday’s article we outlined the basics: what the tests are and what you need to know about writing them.

Next step. We’ve decided to make your life that much easier. Here, we summarise some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received about the NBT.

Please Note:  NBT registration for the 2020 intake opened on 1 April 2019

Cramming for the NBTs

“How should I prepare and study for the tests?”

The short answer is that past papers are not made available, so you can’t cram and teachers can’t “teach to the test”. The latter point is important: there are various organisations claiming to provide NBT preparation lessons. These are not endorsed by the NBT Project.

We understand that this doesn’t help allay the fears of a nervous applicant, so we’ve provided some exemplar questions from the MAT test on our web site. (Look at page 22 of this booklet).

You can also find out what is assessed in the AQL test here.

Bear in mind that the tests assess your prior learning – the knowledge you have accumulated throughout your schooling – and ask you to apply that to materials that reflect expectations for first year university students.

Registration woes

Some of you have found the registration process challenging. Here are some of these challenges and their solutions:

“I forgot my password.”

  • Go to “Book a Test” on the website.
  • Click on Login.
  • Enter your ID number as your username.
  • Click on “Log in” without entering a password.
  • A message will appear that says “Sorry, unrecognised username or password. Have you forgotten your password?”
  • Click on that and enter your email address.
  • An email with the option to change your password will be sent to you.

“I want to change my test date.”

You’re allowed to make changes to your registration online until the closing date posted on the test schedule. Once registration closes for that test date, you cannot make any further changes.

To change your test date, login here and click on Edit.

“Can I register two children using the same email address?”

Unfortunately, our system only allows one email address per user. There is a link on the registration page to create a new email account (Gmail).

“How many times may I write the tests?”

You’d like to ensure that you get the best results you can, so some of you want to know how many times you can write the tests.

You can write twice in one cycle (i.e. – one year). Remember, though, that each university has its own rules regarding which results they accept: some take the first result, while others take the best result. Check first with the university to which you’re applying.

“Should I write as late as possible in the year?”

You’re not only worried about how to prepare for the tests. You’re also wondering whether delaying writing until late in the year will maximise your chance of success.

Rest assured: teachers are provided with a pace-setter guide by the Department of Basic Education, which helps ensure that certain topics are covered by certain dates. Knowing that many applicants to universities need to write the NBTs as early as the end of May, the MAT tests exclude topics that are unlikely to have been taught by that time.

When you’re deciding when to write, don’t forget to take into account the application deadlines for the universities to which you are applying. You need to ensure that you write at least three weeks before the close of their deadline so that there is sufficient time for your results to be sent to them.

“What is the NBT pass mark?”

Believe it or not, there is no pass or fail mark for the NBTs. The university to which you are applying uses your marks to complement your National Senior Certificate (NSC) results and makes a decision about access or placement based on a combination of the two. If you’re really curious about how you did, have a look at our benchmark levels to see where your results place you.

Do you have more questions nibbling at your brain? Don’t fret! We are here to guide you every step of the way.  Don’t forget to check out our infographic with the basic need-to-knows.

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