ABCs of the NWU: What terms do you need to know before applying?

ABCs of the NWU: What terms do you need to know before applying?

The year before varsity can be an exciting but stressful experience. It’s the first step to your dream career, a new environment for you to explore, and a brand-new vocabulary to learn. But… Have you ever read something while checking out the NWU’s website that made you go: “huh”? Or received an email and thought: “What the heck does this mean?”

We know we have, but don’t worry! We are here to explain everything.

Photo: Jon Tyson via

We know how daunting it can be to apply to university. Will I be accepted? What should I do? What do all these words and abbreviations mean? Here’s a little cheat sheet we created to help you learn the ABCs of the NWU:


Do you ask yourself: “What should I study?” It might be time to have a sit-down and really think about the possible answer. How can what you do now, evolve into a career? 

Thanks to the NWU’s InterestIndex you can match possible careers and courses to your specific interests. Are you good at maths, but secretly love writing poetry? Or maybe you have a head for business, but don’t think being an entrepreneur is for you? Go to and learn not just about yourself, but also where your future lies…

P.S. it can seem like a LONG survey but trust us… it’s worth it! 


Now that you know what you’re interested in, you need more information. And that’s where the prospectus comes in handy. It’s a nifty booklet that has information about the NWU, its eight faculties, and the available courses. You can also find the university’s contact details, advice on how to apply, and the benefits of studying at the NWU. 


Have you found your course, yet? Do you know under which faculty it is? Don’t know what a faculty is? Don’t worry, a faculty is a group of departments or schools in a university that specialises in a particular subject or group of subjects, for example, the Faculty of Law. The faculty building is where your lecturers’ offices are, and where you may attend classes. 


“I have found my dream course, but what is the number next to it in the prospectus?” APS or Admission Point Score is the score the NWU uses to determine if your application will be approved. Your APS is calculated by using your matric results (or final Grade 11 marks): each mark is converted to a score out of ten and added together to give you an APS. A maximum of six subjects is used to determine the APS score. 

Just a heads up, Life Orientation is not considered in calculating your APS score. Use our APS calculator: to check how you’re doing so far in your classes, and where you need to put in some extra study time to increase your APS.

Selection courses 

Is your career a selection course? These courses have more qualifying applicants than available places, for example, Bachelor of Nursing Science. So this means you must be chosen from all the applications to study this course. 

Selection is done based on academic achievement in Grade 11 or 12 and a psychometric assessment; which includes personality and aptitude questions that are related to the course you applied for. Some courses also require subject-specific tests such as Mathematics or Chemistry and Physics. 

Wondering when you have to complete the assessment? Don’t worry, you’ll be notified when you need to write the test and what to study for.

Application vs registration

You might not know it, but yip; there is a difference. 

Application is your first go-to when wanting to join the NWU family. You must APPLY for the course of your dreams, so you have to complete an APPLICATION form. This is where you create your student number and fill out the form with all your high school info to see if you qualify for your dream course.

Registration is the next step in your NWU journey. After you APPLIED, aced your matric, and enjoyed a great New Year’s party, you will start receiving information about REGISTERING for your course. This involves picking your modules, getting your timetables and study guides before classes start, and buying all those fun textbooks you will probably never read from cover to cover.


There you have it! In one simple place, you managed to not only figure out what all those words are that we use to sounds extra smart but in the process have some tricks to make sure your application process (and then registration) goes smoothly!

So now there is only one thing left to do… APPLY!

We can’t wait to meet you all next year!

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