Before the foundation of NITE in 1981, each university had its own admissions department, and a candidate applying to more than one university had to take a separate test for each institution’s admissions department. In order to make the higher education admissions process simpler for the candidates and reduce the number of tests they needed to take - as well as the expense of the fees charged - an inter-university association decided to establish a center that would develop a common entrance test for all higher education institutions. The foundation of NITE, which incorporates Israel’s leading experts on evaluation and measurement, made possible the development of a professional, efficient, uniform and fair test system that is capable of predicting success in academic studies. This test system, centered on the Psychometric Entrance Test (PET), now serves the majority of institutions of higher education in Israel.
According to the resolution of the inter-university association, the sole purpose of the Psychometric Entrance Test is to predict candidates’ chances of success in academic studies.
The Psychometric Entrance Test enables all candidates to be graded on a standard scale. The score on the scale is combined with the average score of high school matriculation tests (Bagrut), and the result permits admissions departments to rank the candidates applying to them each year. An important point to be made in this context is that the test offers a second chance to candidates for higher education who have great potential but whose ability is not reflected in their Bagrut results for whatever reason.
A test like the Psychometric Entrance Test needs to uphold many requirements. It must test faithfully and accurately the abilities most relevant to success in studies. It must be fair and therefore must be uniform, egalitarian and accessible to examinees with special needs. The test scores need to be calculated relative to candidates taking the test over a period of several years, at different times and in different languages. The test fee must be affordable and as low as possible. The duration of the test must be reasonable, and the scores must be communicated to the examinees and the universities as quickly as possible. Finally, the test fees have to cover all the costs involved in developing, administering, and scoring the test. The final form of the test achieves a balance among all these requirements.
Extensive research has shown the high predictive power of the Psychometric Entrance Test: most examinees who score highly have greater success in studies than examinees who score poorly. Similarly, it has been shown that the combination of the Psychometric Entrance Test and Bagrut results has better predictive power than any other combination of existing screening tools. A summary of the principal findings concerning the reliability and validity of the test may be found here.
No higher education screening tool is perfect, and this is also true of the Psychometric Entrance Test. While it does predict well the degree of most examinees’ academic success, it is definitely possible that in some cases examinees who score relatively poorly on the test will achieve good results in studies and vice versa. Furthermore, the test does not directly measure attributes such as motivation, creativity and persistence, all of which influence the degree of success in studies.
The Psychometric Entrance Test tests abilities in three domains: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and English. The questions in the three domains test the general abilities required in order to study and comprehend new topics, as required in academic courses. However, these abilities are not equally essential in every field of study. For example, communications studies require more expertise in verbal reasoning and less in quantitative reasoning, while engineering courses require more expertise in quantitative reasoning and less in verbal reasoning. Proficiency in English is required in most fields of study, since a large amount of study material, including books and articles, is only available in English.
The three domains of the Psychometric Entrance Test reflect the most basic levels of proficiency required in higher education. Some fields of study (e.g. medicine and architecture) require more specific abilities, and candidates for courses in these fields are required to take additional tests. There are other capabilities that can assist people in their studies, such as motivation, persistence, creativity, psychological maturity and so on, but these are not directly measured by the Psychometric Entrance Test. This is because these capabilities are hard to measure reliably, especially over a limited period of time. Accordingly, the Psychometric Entrance Test focuses on capabilities that may be measured accurately in a relatively short time.