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The spread of COVID-19 across the country has resulted in the waiving of the National Benchmark Test (NBT) for Stellenbosch University (SU) applications for 2021.

NBTs were previously used by SU, in their internal admission for each applicant, along with their grade 11 December exam and final matric marks.

Due to the virus, the NBTs will be postponed, to be confirmed at a later date, the Centre for Educational Testing for Access & Placement said in a statement on 4 May.

“Considering the uncertainty regarding the timeline of NBT testing and logistical challenges of testing due to COVID-19, Stellenbosch University decided not to utilise NBT scores for selection and placement purposes for the 2021-intake. Applicants who were requested to write the NBTs before the end of June for selection consideration in the faculties of Law and Medicine and Health Sciences, will no longer be required to do so.

“NBT will not be taken in account in the calculation of the selection score. Grade 11 or, when applicants have already matriculated, the grade 12 results, will be used. In accordance, the NBTs will not be required for admission or placement purposes in any other faculty. The amended selection guidelines are published on the website for prospective students at,” Dr Celeste Nel, Director: Centre for Admission, Residence Placement and Private Accommodation, said.

NBTs will however still be needed for prospective students who are applying for School of Tomorrow (SOT) and they will still be expected to write the NBTs before the end of 2020 to ensure that their results are available before registration in 2021.

The changing of admission requirements have also affected prospective students in their application process for 2021, with some paying hundreds of rands for courses to help them in the completion of their NBTs. Although, some applicants feel that no longer having to write NBTs has lifted some pressure.

“It was a relief to find out they were not using NBT results, because it was a great pressure knowing how much they stress the NBT results as a choosing factor. Luckily, I worked hard in grade 11 so I could use those results and not rely fully on the NBTs to pull my mark up,” Nikita Tsiotiopoulos, a current matric applying for medicine at SU, said.

Another prospective student, Sarah Hagedorn-Hansen, says she has mixed emotions about SU’s decision not to use NBTs. “On the one hand it makes me worry that I won’t get another chance to ‘boost’ my application score, but on the other hand it definitely does take off the pressure of not doing well in the NBT exam. Either way, I feel privileged to have applied to the varsity and I am anxiously waiting to receive a response!”

With regards to residence placement, the lack of NBTs will have no effect. Jonathan Arries, Admission and Residence Placement Officer at SU, said that the NBT results were never taken into consideration for residence placements of prospective students, as they only use the Grade 11 final results for provisional allocation.

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