What are the national benchmarks tests? What is the point of doing them?
The NBTs are somewhat like the South African equivalent to the SATs in the USA. Essentially, they’re an additional way for universities to gauge your academic proficiency on the national level, and to determine how well you’ll cope with work at a university level. The NBTs consist of two tests. Everyone writing the NBTs writes the Academic Literacy and Quantitative Literacy (AQL) test, which is a 3 hour multiple choice test. Academic Literacy is styled as an English comprehension test, while Quantitative Literacy is similar to the Mathematics Literacy exam in many regards. Students applying to certain faculties (such as Science, Engineering or Medicine) are often expected to also write the Mathematics paper. The specific content of these papers can be found below
Not all universities require NBTs to be written, and each weight their impact on your application differently. For example, WITS only requires NBTs for the Medicine Faculty, whereas UCT places a significant weighting on the NBTs in most applications. The relevance of the NBTs is normally fairly straightforward to find on university websites.
My advice would be to write the NBTs regardless of where you intend to apply. A friend of mine decided at the last minute that he would have liked to have gone to UCT, but because he hadn’t put any time into his NBTs, he couldn’t make it in. No matter how certain of your choice you are, there is always the potential for a change of heart, and it is safer to have the NBTs behind you.
The NBTs can be written at various centres (such as schools and universities) throughout the country, and you can write them a second time if you aren’t happy with your mark. However, some universities might not accept a rewrite.
For more information, go to the NBT website - http://www.nbt.ac.za/
Hope this helps!