Test Format & Components
The Psychometric Entrance Test (paper-and-pencil version) consists of nine sections, each of which belongs to one of the following domains: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning or English.
The first section of the test is part of the Verbal Reasoning domain and consists of a writing task. Examinees taking the test in Hebrew have 30 minutes to complete this section (examinees taking the test in other languages have 35 minutes). The remaining eight sections are made up of multiple-choice questions for which the response that best answers the question must be chosen from among four alternatives. These sections do not appear in any particular order, and examinees have 20 minutes in which to complete them; the number of questions in the section and the time allotted may differ in other versions of the test (paper-and-pencil or computer-based, in Hebrew or in other languages, standard test or test with accommodations). From time to time, changes may be made to the test format, the number of questions and the time allotted. Such changes will be published on the NITE website before the first test administration date.
Every NITE test may contain chapters or items that were used in previous tests or that appeared on the NITE website.
The multiple-choice sections in each domain consist of several types of questions. All questions of a given type appear together and are arranged in ascending order of difficulty, except for Reading Comprehension questions (in the Verbal Reasoning and English domains), which are arranged according to the order in which the subject matter appears in the text.
NOTE: Please note that new types of questions may appear in any of the domains, together with changes in instructions for solving them, in the number of questions in a section, and in the time allotted.
Test Sections that Are Not Scored
Of the eight multiple-choice sections, only two in each domain (a total of six) are used for calculating your score. The multiple-choice sections that are not used for calculating your score serve two purposes:
To prevent differences between tests:
To prevent scores being affected by the makeup of the examinee groups in different test administrations the scores are equated and standardized on the same scale. For this purpose, every test contains a chapter that has appeared in a previous test.
To ensure the quality of the questions:
Before a question appears in a section that is used for scoring purposes, NITE performs quality control to ensure that it is fair and that it discriminates between examinees of higher ability and those of lower ability. Certain sections consist of questions that have reached this stage of quality control. Questions that meet statistical and other criteria may appear in the future in sections used for scoring purposes, while questions that do not meet these criteria are disqualified. All of the sections used to calculate scores are made up of questions that have already been subjected to these quality controls. The sections that are not used for calculating scores are essential. They prevent distortion of scores that might be caused by differences between tests administered on different dates, and they ensure that the questions on the test are sound and fair. There is no way for examinees to distinguish between the sections used for scoring and the other sections. Therefore, for your own good, treat every section of the test with equal seriousness!
Click here for information on the domains that make up the PET.
Test Format & Components
The verbal skills most relevant for academic studies are reading comprehension, written expression, listening comprehension and verbal expression. There is a strong correlation between reading comprehension and listening comprehension, as well as between written expression and verbal expression. In both cases, assessment of the former covers the latter as well. Moreover, assessment of listening comprehension and verbal expression would require an expensive and complex testing apparatus. For these two reasons, the Psychometric test only assesses reading and writing skills.
Reading comprehension and written expression abilities are based on a rich vocabulary, an understanding of the rules of language, and logical thinking – that is, the ability to draw conclusions. In addition, each one of these abilities is based on a wide variety of more specific skills, such as inferring meaning from context, connecting ideas, clear and systematic organizing of ideas, distinguishing between essential and secondary information, formulating new ideas and expressing them articulately and precisely. All of these skills are important for academic success in both the humanities and sciences. Undergraduate students are required to read articles and textbooks in order to learn about complex and wide-reaching topics. In order to do so, they must draw on reading, comprehension, analysis and deduction skills. They are also required to summarize various topics, present original ideas and write about them in academic style. These are skills that are systematically assessed by the Psychometric test.
Details and explanations of components of the Verbal Reasoning domain appear here: examples and explanations of Verbal Reasoning questions.
A detailed description of the abilities assessed by each type of Verbal Reasoning item follows, along with an explanation of its relevance to academic studies.
The Writing Task
example 1 - writing task
The writing task consists of an essay on a given topic. The essay must be at least 25 lines long, written in academic style, with clear and well-reasoned presentation and discussion of an argument. An idea can be an opinion or a description of a phenomenon. The discussion should provide details and explanations, and present supporting arguments, proofs and conclusions. The structure of an academic text should reflect the way you develop the idea: the different parts of the essay should follow a logical progression, and the connections between various arguments should be clear. Precise, clear language and a consistent register are needed for good academic writing. It makes no difference what idea you choose to express as long as it is well reasoned, well supported and clearly worded. The author's "personal voice" is reflected in the stance adopted, and expressive ability is reflected in the capacity to provide an in-depth explanation and to discuss the idea in a methodical and critical manner.
Academic writing, which is used for many high school subjects, is the form of writing customarily used for written exercises, tests, essays and research in institutions of higher education. The abilities that are tested in the writing task are thus similar to the writing and formulation skills necessary for academic studies.
Two raters independently evaluate each essay, taking into account that they are reading first drafts that were written under time constraints. Each rater evaluates the essay in terms of two dimensions: content and language. In evaluating content, raters examine the various arguments presented in terms of quality and complexity and the extent to which critical thinking is demonstrated in them. In evaluating language, raters consider wording, writing style and language level. These elements are the basis of good academic writing, and candidates who have not sufficiently mastered them will find it hard to present their ideas in writing.
Further information about the writing task can be found here: writing task in examples and explanations of test questions. A partial list of writing tasks that have appeared in previous tests can be found here.
example 2 - analogies
Questions of this type examine the ability to precisely define a connection or relationship between words or phrases. This ability is based on three important aspects of verbal reasoning: vocabulary, the ability to identify the relationship between two words or phrases, and the ability to identify a similar relationship in another set of words or phrases.
Understanding analogies is essential to the acquisition and comprehension of new subject matter. It enables learners to make connections between concepts, phenomena, principles and ideas that are new and the knowledge that they already possess. It also enables learners to compare and identify similarities and differences between two new pieces of information. Learners are thus able to deepen and extend their understanding and increase the likelihood that the acquired knowledge will be retained and available for recall when needed.
More information about analogies can be found here: analogies in examples and explanations.
Test Format & Components
Critical Reading and Inference Questions
example 3 - critical reading and inference
These include various types of questions: comprehension of short texts, inference (drawing a conclusion from the text, identifying which statement weakens a conclusion drawn in the text, and so forth), sentence completions and more.
Critical reading and inference questions examine the ability to read and understand complex material, to understand a statement's internal logic, to understand and apply principles of logic, to compare different ideas and situations and to draw valid conclusions.
These questions are based on texts from a variety of sources, both academic and non-academic, and vary in style. In general, comprehension and inference questions are closely tied to types of thinking required in various disciplines. For example, the ability to comprehend complex claims, locate contradictions within them, or draw conclusions from them is needed in fields such as law, economics, psychology and international relations. Sentence completion questions assess comprehension at the sentence level, which is the basis for reading comprehension. Most sentence completion questions focus on the ability to understand the function of prepositions in the sentence and the relationship of various syntactic elements. These skills are the basis for understanding complex texts which are often encountered in academic studies.
More information about comprehension and inference questions can be found here: critical reading and inference questions in examples and explanations.
Text Comprehension Questions
example 4 - text comprehension
Reading comprehension questions assess the ability to comprehend texts in a variety of fields: psychology, biology, history, philosophy and others. The questions focus on understanding the content and making connections between the ideas and arguments presented. These skills are based not only on vocabulary but also on the ability to understand the meaning of words in context, extract relevant information from the text, understand the syntactic relations between parts of the text (for example, by understanding the functions of conjunctions and prepositions) and make logical connections between pieces of information appearing in different parts of the text. The abilities tested by this type of question are needed to understand and analyze textbook material and academic articles.
More information about reading comprehension questions can be found here: text comprehension questions in examples and explanations.
Why other abilities are not assessed in the Verbal Reasoning sections
There are many different skills associated with verbal reasoning, not all of which are assessed in the Verbal Reasoning section of the test. Certain skills, such as spelling, are not tested, because they are not the most relevant to academic studies; others, such as listening comprehension, are not tested, because they are difficult to assess.
Test Format & Components
The Quantitative Reasoning domain tests the ability to use numbers and mathematical concepts and methods to solve quantitative problems. The domain also covers the analytical skills needed to analyze data presented in a variety of ways, such as in table or graph form. For the most part the Quantitative Reasoning questions do not test the speed with which calculations are done, but rather the ability to comprehend mathematical problems and use mathematical tools to solve them.
The mathematical knowledge required in the Quantitative Reasoning sections is comparable to that required for the high school matriculation (Bagrut) math exam at the minimum level (3 units). Admission to university in Israel is contingent on a complete Bagrut certificate, so it can be assumed that Psychometric test examinees are familiar with the kind of material that appears in the Quantitative Reasoning sections.
Quantitative Reasoning questions deal with a wide variety of topics, such as percentages, exponents and roots, properties of numbers, inequalities, factors, arithmetic operations using integers and fractions, equations, abbreviated multiplication formulas, number lines, coordinate systems, combinatorics, probability, averages, distance and work problems. The domain also covers the characteristics of geometric shapes such as straight lines, triangles, quadrilaterals, polygons and circles, and the characteristics of geometric solid figures such as boxes, cylinders, cones, prisms and pyramids. The ability to remember formulas is not one of the skills required for the test, and therefore most of the formulas needed for answering the questions are provided on the formula page that appears in the test booklet.
Details and explanations of components of the Quantitative Reasoning domain appear here: examples and explanations of Quantitative Reasoning questions.
There are two types of questions in the Quantitative Reasoning domain. A description of the quantitative reasoning ability required for each type appears below, along with an explanation of its relevance to academic studies.
Questions and Problems
example 5 - questions and problems
Most of the questions in the Quantitative Reasoning sections fall under the heading of Questions and Problems. These deal with a variety of topics in algebra and geometry. In order to solve these questions, the examinee must comprehend quantitative information presented in an abstract form, for example an equation with missing values, or in concrete terms, for example, a scenario that the examinee must convert from verbal to mathematical terms. There are questions that call for calculation strategies, and there are those that require an understanding of rules.
Scientific research in most fields is based on the gathering, processing, analysis and presentation of quantitative data. Most courses in education, social sciences, natural sciences and life sciences, require basic quantitative data processing skills, and the use of mathematical tools to solve problems is a necessity. In other disciplines, especially the exact sciences, proficiency in these skills is essential for academic success.
More information about questions and problems in the Quantitative Reasoning domain can be found here: questions and problems in examples and explanations.
Graph and Table Comprehension Questions
example 6 - graph and table comprehension
These questions involve analyzing information presented in a graph or table, along with a short explanation. The information is presented in a variety of visual forms, for example, in a graph or in a diagram with columns. In a table, the quantitative data are arranged in rows and columns.
Obtaining information from a graph or table in order to analyze it requires a variety of analytical skills such as understanding coordinate systems and the structure of tables, the ability to convert visual information into quantitative information and the ability to extract a specific piece of information from a larger set of data. Organization and presentation of data in tables and graphs is widely used in both scientific and non-scientific texts. The media often use these visual modes of presenting information, and the ability to process this kind of information is therefore important not only for academic studies, but for everyday life. Students at institutions of higher learning are required not only to interpret tables and graphs but also to produce them.
More information about table and graph comprehension can be found here: graph and table comprehension questions in examples and explanations.
Topics not covered by the Quantitative Reasoning questions
The Quantitative Reasoning questions test knowledge and ability in various mathematical areas. Other areas, such as trigonometry, differential and integral calculus, etc., are not covered by the test. This is because the test only relates to areas needed for academic studies; including other areas would make the test unnecessarily difficult.
Test Format & Components
The English sections test your proficiency in the English language, as demonstrated, among other things, by your vocabulary and your ability to read and understand texts in English.
English is the international language of research, and a lot of study material is available in English only. Adequate proficiency is essential for reading textbooks and academic articles, researching and writing academic articles, and participating in scientific conferences, in almost all fields.
There are three types of questions in the English sections: sentence completion, restatement and reading comprehension.
Details and explanations of components of the English domain appear here: examples and explanations of English questions.
example 7 - sentence completion
These questions consist of a sentence in which a word or set of words is missing. The examinee must complete the sentence using the most appropriate response. This type of question tests not only the examinee’s vocabulary and grammar but also the ability to infer meaning from context. The ability to complete the missing information on the basis of the context provided by sentences is important for the fluent reading of texts in general and in a non-native language in particular. The sentence completion questions test the practical ability to read academic texts in English.
More information about sentence completions can be found here: sentence completion in examples and explanations.
example 8 - restatements
These questions consist of several sentences, each followed by four possible ways of restating the main idea of that sentence in different words. For each question, the examinee must choose the one restatement which best expresses the meaning of the original sentence. This type of question does not test whether the examinee can restate a sentence in English, but whether he or she can identify two sentences that have the same meaning despite differences in syntax and semantics. The examinee must isolate the meaning of the sentence from the key words that appear in it and from the relations them. During academic studies, students are exposed to sentences organized in a wide variety of syntactic structures. The ability to identify these structures is essential to comprehending their meaning.
More information about restatements can be found here: restatements in examples and explanations.
example 9 - reading comprehension
The reading comprehension questions in the English domain, like those in the Verbal Reasoning domain, test the ability to read and understand texts. The texts cover a wide variety of topics, and the questions relate to the ideas and details presented, as well as to the structure, the connections between different parts, the conclusions that can be inferred and so forth.
The ability to answer these questions is closely tied to the reading comprehension skills needed for academic studies. Students in higher education are required to read a large number of texts in English on a variety of topics. They need an extensive vocabulary and the ability to infer the meaning of words from context. These abilities are also important for academic studies because they enable the student to handle long and complex texts, identifying relations between the ideas and arguments expressed in them. The questions may involve words or details appearing in the text, connections between sections of the text, inferences based on the text, and so on.
More information about reading comprehension can be found here: reading comprehension in examples and explanations.
The Time Factor in the Psychometric Test
Some examinees feel tired and have trouble concentrating after a few hours of testing. The limited time allotted in the Psychometric test reduces the chances that their performance will suffer. The time limit also ensures that all examinees are tested under the same conditions. Furthermore, the speed at which examinees answer the questions reflects their command of some of the abilities that the test examines. Therefore, the time limit is one of the features of the test that make it possible to distinguish between examinees with high ability and those with lower ability.
The time limit sometimes causes frustration; many examinees feel that it hampers their ability to perform well on the test and believe that if they had more time they would get a higher score. They are of course right, except that ALL the examinees would then have higher scores, and the discrepancy between them would remain more or less the same. Extending the time of the test would be like adding a fixed factor to the scores of all examinees: such a factor might increase the scores, but it would not change their relative positions (that is, the distribution of examinees according to their scores). Indeed, studies conducted by NITE show that when the allotted time is increased to 1.5 of the original time, the relative placement of examinees is almost unchanged. The results of the study can be viewed in NITE report #344.
In many fields of study candidates are ranked according to their Psychometric test scores as well as their Bagrut scores, and those with the highest scores are admitted according to a predetermined quota. It follows that increasing the time allotted on the Psychometric test would not affect the admissions decisions, and the same candidates would be admitted.
In addition, we can assume that if the average score on the test were to go up significantly, the thresholds for admission to departments that have cut-off scores would also go up. It is therefore most likely that someone who was not admitted to a certain department because of a low score on a timed test would also not be admitted on the basis of a higher score on a test having a longer allotted time.