The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has recently announced that it will not be factoring in National Benchmarking Test (NBT) scores for first year students in 2021.

As expected this is because of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected every facet of education around the world. This, together with the usual stress and pains involved in Matric work and university applications, has prompted Wits to make this change.

“We also know that many learners are worried about the application process, including the writing of the National Benchmark Tests (NBTs). After due consideration of the matter, and given the exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves at this moment, we have agreed that the results of the NBTs will not be taken into consideration when students apply for the first year of study in 2021. This means that the NBTs will not form part of Wits University’s admission criteria for 2021 for students applying for the first time,” reads a statement release by the university.

While this is certainly a load off of the minds of 2021 applicants it should be mentioned that this change is not permanent.

“Please note that this exception applies for 2021 only and that NBTs will be made a requirement again post the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement adds.

With no real end in sight for the pandemic this seems a bit presumptuous, but as with most things during COVID-19 this may just be an interim rule.

At the time of writing the NBTs are still scheduled to happen, albeit online, on 25th and 26th July. According to a message on the top of the NBT website registrations for this close on 10th June and venues for national sessions may open up again if / when South Africa’s national alert level goes to level one.

Wits is not the first university to forego the NBTs for 2021 admissions, as earlier this month, Stellenbosch University came to the same decision.