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The NBTP was commissioned in 2005 by HESA.  In 2018, the project reached maturity as a standalone and self-funding project. The four core objectives listed below have remained a consistent thread in the evolution of the NBTP since inception:


  • To assess entry-level academic and quantitative literacy and mathematics proficiency of students;
  • To assess the relationship between higher education entry level proficiencies and school-level exit outcomes;
  • To provide a service to HE institutions requiring additional information to assist in placement of students in appropriate curricular routes; and
  • To assist with curriculum development, particularly in relation to foundation courses.


In essence, then, the NBTs are designed to provide criterion-referenced information to supplement the NSC results, and to help institutions to meet the educational needs of their incoming students as effectively as possible.


There are two tests, briefly described below:



The Academic and Quantitative Literacy Test (3 hours)


[The two sections of the Academic and Quantitative Literacy are reported separately]

Relates to students’:

  • capacity to engage successfully with the demands of academic study in the medium of instruction provided.
  • ability to manage situations or solve problems in a real context that is relevant to higher education study, using basic quantitative information that may be presented verbally, graphically, in tabular or symbolic form.

The Mathematics Test (3 hours)

The test targets a student’s ability related to mathematical concepts formally regarded as part of the secondary school curriculum.