Guide to Writing the NBTs Outside of South Africa


If you find yourself outside of South Africa and you want to study next year, don’t panic. There is a way for you to still be able to write the National Benchmark Tests (NBTs). Liz has been there, done that so she’s got advice for days on this topic.

So you took a gap year to “go find yourself” and now you’re teaching in Thailand (or any of the other countries that love South African teachers). All your prep and dedication has paid off and you have gained work experience as well as some valuable skills. The biggest bonus: you now know what you really want to do with your life.


2020 Institution Application Dates

If you would like to study in 2020, you need to know the application dates. From there, you can get the application process moving.  Fun times!

To Study or not to Study

For most of us, studying is the first step to getting into our chosen profession. If you want to study at a university in South Africa, depending on what you want to study, you might need to write the NBT. That’s all good and well, but you’re still in Thailand and applications are closing before you can come home. What do you do now?

Step 1: Panic

Step 2: Keep calm and ask EduOne.

Turns out it’s all going to be OK! The kind of people working at the NBT Project (the office) know your struggle and are more than willing to help you.


Where the NBT Venues at?

If you are outside of South Africa but still on the African continent, there are set venues you could write at.  Check it out!

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Go to and try not to get distracted by all the useful links (or do, and open all of them in new tabs for later perusal)

2. At the top is a drop-down menu “Applicants” (that’s you 😉 ) and drop your pointer down to “Register as a Remote Writer” (obviously your goal) and read up on the process.


1. Skip the all that and just send an email to kindly asking if you can write a South African exam wherever you are in this big bad world.

2. Wait…

…And wait…

3. Jump for joy when you get your reply within a few days

4.Read ALL the information. And by that we mean ALL.

5. Read it again and follow the very clear instructions given to you as per email

You will need a few Things to get Going:

  • Inspiration and die-hard willpower
  • A little bit of tech savvy – only a tiny bit.
  • A South African ID number or valid Passport number.
  • A proctor – this is NOT a friend or family member, but someone who can invigilate (look after and possibly provide snacks for you) during your tests. The forms clearly state who can or cannot be a proctor.
  • Some cash dollar (well in e-cash dollar really)
  • A quiet venue that will be available for 6-7 hours on one specific day.
  • Resources to study and ace your test!


Institutions in South Africa

If you are thinking of studying in South Africa, take a look at everything you need to know about any institution in the country.  Whether it’s application information, accommodation details or fees, we have the breakdown.  

Quick side note on Choosing a Proctor

Your proctor has to be someone with “credibility”.  This means they have some sort of authority. If you are already teaching, it should be easy as you can ask another teacher to be your proctor. Alternatively, you can ask a religious leader or Commissioner of Oaths as they are deemed pretty responsible in the adult world. Your proctor will need to accept some substantial legal responsibility and even sign the indemnity. Choose someone who is reliable and has your best interests at heart as they will be the ones communicating with the NBT Project office. They will also receive and send your tests.

So, you’ve Followed the Instructions from the NBT Project. Now what?

Consider how your test will travel the 9 795 km that you travelled. The obvious answer would be via airmail/ courier. There are many local (to the country you are in) and international courier companies that you can look up and ask for quotes. You can only do this once you get the shipping details from the NBT office (after setting a date and paying to write your NBTs). Postnet Rondebosch was an easy first choice for me. Simply because they are close to and know where the NBT office is. They have also done this process before, and you haven’t 🙂

Email if you choose to use their reliable and timely services. Between the info provided by NBT Project and Postnet couriers, you will have enough information to fill out the forms.


FAQs about the National Benchmark Tests

Still confused about those NBTs you need to write? The National Benchmark Tests (NBTs) is a set of tests that measure your academic readiness for university.  Find out all you need to know about the tests.  

How much will it cost?

So, the price you pay will depend on if you need to write the AQL and MAT or just one. If you need to write both, it will cost R200 (correct at the time of writing). In addition, you will need to pay R250 concession fee for writing remotely.

In Oct 2017, to write the test in Thailand, the courier fees came to R1598. Your communication with your courier will highlight the costs related to your venue and date.

Rough Estimated Expense summary:

Choose one: NBT AQL R100
No choice: NBT concession fee R250
Compulsory too: Courier fee R1598 (subject to change)
Optional: Thank you gift for proctor R50
Total (Max) R2198


* The process and most of the costs should not vary too much if you are planning on writing in a different country.

You’ve Conquered the Mountain!

Great job! The worst is over and you now have time to focus on your studies. Before you take that leap of faith, check your wings first. Writing the NBTs in a different country means you only get one (pretty expensive) chance to fly.

Find some cool, useful tools to help you study. Then take an old-ish, reliable test or two.

Now take the leap! Fly into your future!

EduConnect 2Cents

The process of applying to write the NBTs as a remote writer can be very stressful but does not need to be. Trust that your correspondents will guide you and know that they will gladly answer any questions you have. Remember to keep the University up to date with regards to the date that they can expect your NBTs. It will take up to 14 days after receiving your NBT for your results to be sent to you (and make sure the university has them too, as they can forget to upload your results unto the system).

Most importantly, make sure your resources cater to the test you are writing. Enrol for an online course if you must. Start doing past papers early so that you know what you still need to Youtube before you just choose option C. Invest your time and extra bucks wisely here so that you don’t end up wasting money for writing and couriering. Finally, just give it your best and don’t stress!

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