The National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) were commissioned by Higher Education South Africa (HESA) with the task of assessing academic readiness of first year university students as a supplement to secondary school reports on learning achieved in content specific courses. 

The NBTs assess the ability to combine aspects of prior learning in competency areas – Academic Literacy (AL), Quantitative Literacy (QL) and Mathematics (MAT) – that directly impact on success of first year university students. AL and QL are combined in the AQL test and the MAT is written as a separate test. Both are administered under standardised testing conditions at sites across South Africa on designated ‘national’ test dates.

The NBTP reports results by Benchmarks to better inform learners and universities about the level of academic support that may be required for successful completion of programmes. Results are also used by universities in course development, programme planning and placement decisions.