How clever are Israel's politicians?

Test provides surprising results.

Psychometric-taking MKs (photo credit: MK MERAV BEN-ARI'S OFFICE)
Psychometric-taking MKs
(photo credit: MK MERAV BEN-ARI'S OFFICE)
After the dust settled and the government was sworn in, 11 MKs, new and old, were put to the test – the psychometric test, that is. Lawmakers scored slightly above the national average on the psychometric exam Tuesday, which they took as part of Student Day in the Knesset.
The National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) administered a short version of the college entrance exam to MKs in one of several events, organized in cooperation with Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari, chairwoman of the Knesset Caucus for Higher Education.
The 11 lawmakers who took the test, the Likud’s Yoav Kisch and Oren Hazan; Zionist Union’s Itzik Shmuli and Yossi Yonah; Yesh Atid’s Karin Elharar and Yael German; Kulanu’s Ben-Ari, Rachel Azaria and Roy Folkman and Meretz’s Esawi Frej, scored an average of 584, while the national average for 2013 was 533. They scored best on the English section and worst in math. Individual scores were not released.
“The purpose of this initiative is to show MKs that the psychometric exam should not have such a decisive role in acceptance to studies,” NUIS chairman Gilad Arditi said. “It should be a second chance for those whose bagrut [matriculation] grades are not good enough.”
The psychometric exam costs NIS 540, but the NUIS found that 86 percent of students took a preparatory course, which cost NIS 5,000- NIS 9,000, and 14% of students took two courses.
In addition, National Institute for Testing and Examinations statistics show that those who do best on the exam are male, from the Center, Ashkenazi and have parents with college degrees.
“This test increases economic gaps in our society and does not reflect real abilities and quality of candidates [for college acceptance],” Arditi added.
Ben-Ari said universities should look at the individual person and not just his or her psychometric scores.
She recounted that she was accepted to studies at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center based on her service as an officer in the IDF, without a psychometric score, and that she has a law degree and an MBA.
When time was up at the end of the exam, Hazan shouted that he was not finished yet, refusing to hand it in to be graded, though he eventually was persuaded.
Hazan pointed out that MKs did not take the exam very seriously – he and others cracked jokes throughout – saying that proves it needs to be canceled.
Earlier Tuesday, NUIS representatives met with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Senior Citizens, Young People and Gender Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union).
“Student activism helps shape the face of the country,” Bennett told the students.
“I am in the process of learning my job, so I’m here to hear and listen, but it’s important for you to know you have an important role in shaping our society.”
Herzog to the opportunity to accuse the government of censoring opposing opinions in the media and the courts, adding: “I fear that the harm in the freedom to express opinions will reach academia, as well.”
When the chairman of the Peres Academic Center’s student union told Herzog that he shouldn’t talk about politics, the opposition leader argued with him, saying “students are a great, influential power in Israeli society....[They]need to stand at the head of battles and wars for Israeli society’s character.”