The Central Bureau of Statistics reports an increase in the number of students accepted to higher-education studies without having taken a psychometric exam. The Education Ministry’s Council for Higher Education (CHE) is called upon to improve supervision.

The psychometric test is a tool for predicting academic performance, and contains multiple-choice questions in three areas: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and English language proficiency. Universities in Israel require most prospective students to pass the psychometric, in accordance with a regulation by the CHE.

Numbers are Down

The new report shows that increasing numbers of students - in addition to the exemptions listed below - are being accepted into higher-studies institutions without having taken the psychometric exams.

In public colleges, 74% of candidates in 1997 were accepted after being tested, compared with 67% in 2007.  In universities, the drop was much lower, from 92 to 90%.

In private colleges, the drop in students who did not take the psychometric was the sharpest, from 90% in 1997 to only 58% two years ago. Only in teachers’ colleges was there an increase, from 58% to 90% - because before 2004, the Council did not require these institution to demand a psychometric exam as a condition for acceptance.

The study of medicine, which is taught only in universities and which is a long, involved process, sees 99% of its students tested. However, the study of law, for which students are more in demand – more institutions teach it – required only 63% of its students to pass the exam, compared with 88% in 1997.

Exceptions to the Rule

Yuval Lidor, spokesman for the Council, told Israel National News, “When we license a new college, we also define its acceptance policy. In most cases, students can only be accepted based on their psychometric scores. The exceptions are those over age 30, specific population sectors such as foreigners, and the hareidi-religious, because many of them did not learn in regular high schools.”

More Hareidim in College

He noted that the number of hareidim in higher-education studies has grown significantly over the past decade.  “There are two main colleges for hareidim now, one under the auspices of Bar Ilan University, and one under Haifa University,” he said.

CHE sources acknowledged that more supervision, especially over the private colleges, is required. Prof. Shlomo Grossman, Chairman of the CHE’s Planning and Budgeting Committee, said, “When an institution receives recognition, we trust it to fulfill our instructions and demands. It now appears that there are deviations that require clarification and management.”

The exam is administered by the National Institute for Testing and Evaluation - a body that was established by the universities.  It costs roughly $100, but an entire exam-preparation industry has risen up, and candidates generally spend hundreds and thousands of shekels more for courses - sometimes as long as a year - to help them pass the test.

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