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NBT Frequently asked questions

What are the National Benchmark Tests?

The National Benchmark Tests (NBT’s) are an assessment for first year applicants into Higher Education. The NBT’s were designed to measure a writer’s’ ability to transfer understanding of Academic Literacy, Quantitative Literacy, and Mathematics to the demands of tertiary coursework. There are two tests. The AQL combines Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy in one multiple-choice test. Each section is a total of three hours’ writing time. The second test is Mathematics (MAT) which is also multiple-choice and three hours in duration.

How does CPUT use my NBT results?

Although the NBT’s address content typically taught in secondary school, they provide different and complementary information to the ‘school-leaving’ examinations. CPUT uses the NBT results in addition to school academic performance and examination results for placement in development courses, extended programmes and for other additional academic support.

What does it cost to write?

Test fees are non-refundable and can be paid at any EasyPay point or pay on the EasyPay website: Fees for the 2014 Admission cycle are:

AQL only: R85
AQL and MAT: R170
Re-mark: 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.

How do I register to write?

Registration to write the NBT’s is done through the internet . Open your web browser to You must use your name as it appears on your official South African ID or foreign passport when you register for the NBT’s. 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 e-mail to for assistance. The helpdesk is staffed from 08h00 – 18h00 weekdays and from 07h30 to11h30 on national test days over weekends.

Which tests must I write?

The NBTs are not compulsory for all courses at CPUT. Refer to the list of qualifications that require the NBTs. All applicants write the Academic and Quantitative Literacy test (AQL) and all applicants to Engineering & certain diplomas in the Applied Sciences must also write the Mathematics test (MAT). If you have further questions, please send your queries to the contact persons in each faculty.

What is in the National Benchmark Tests?

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

Academic literacy
Quantitative literacy
  • 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 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 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 straightlines, 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 perimeter, area, volume;
  • Apply principles of analytic geometry;
  • Apply principles of differential calculus;
  • Interpret various representations and measures of data; and
  • Use logical skills in making deductions and determining the validity of given assertions

What time are the tests and what must I bring with me?

The AQL Test is written in the morning, and writers must be at the test venue by 07h30. The MAT Test is written in the afternoon on the same day as the AQL Test, with a short lunch break between the two tests.

On the morning of the tests, you must bring:

Your ID Book, passport, or certified receipt of application for South African ID.
Two HB pencils, an eraser, and a pencil sharpener.
Lunch, if you are writing both tests.

Do not bring calculators, rulers, or dictionaries.

What are the dates for 2014?

View the dates on the NBT website.

Where can I write the NBT?

View the venues on the NBT website.

General enquiries about NBTs:

Sibongakonke Cakata
Tel: +27 21 959 6194
Cell: 071 460 2761