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Tel Aviv University was tabling in the building where I work today, so I stopped by to ask them about birthright trips, thinking they were offering them. The woman at the table gave me her card and told me to email her for answers on birthright trips, they were mainly focusing on exchange programs, which cost money.

I did a little research on Tel Aviv University, because it seemed like a good idea to beef up my knowledge of it if I were going to do a birthright trip through them. While I was looking through the website, I got bit by a bug of curiosity and decided to see how different Admissions are in Israeli universities compared to North American ones. One of the requirements of entry was called “a psychometric entrance test”. I didn’t know what to think of that, my mind immediately went to, “What the devil, a personality test to enter university?” That seemed like a bloody nightmare. I’ve taken personality tests before, and even though I’m told you can’t “fail” a personality test, the results I usually got back weren’t very reassuring to professionals, they pointed to me being, in their words, “a rigid thinker with a single-mindedness and little regard for the feelings of others.”

But I decided to look up the term, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s actually just a specialized test, akin to the SATs or ACTs in America, but, in my opinion, much, much better, especially for autistic students like me and overall at measuring whether or not someone is ready to tackle university.

I generally have a low opinion of the SAT/ACT as a measure of whether or not you are ready for college. I’m not being bitter either, I promise. My own SAT score when I was in high school was a 1770, or, 760-something in Critical Reading and Writing, but an abysmally low score in the Math portion (something like 300 if I recall) and got a good score on the ACT as well. But I don’t really think those accurately reflected whether I was ready for college, it was more a matter of being pragmatic and reading up on exactly how the test was structured, how I could manage to, even in my weak areas, figure out the statistically probable answer, and figure out what they were looking for in the writing section.

I also had a tutor at a prestigious prep school (I didn’t go to the school, but the classes were open to anyone who wanted to take them, for a fee) who knew how to teach you all this. The overkill emphasis on writing, reading comprehension, and math strikes me to be an overkill of the idea that all one needs is reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, at the expense of measuring skills which will determine whether you are ready for university level.

The PET test, in contrast, is divided into areas on Quantitative reasoning, Verbal reasoning, and your English language skills, and the test is offered in Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, French, Spanish, Hebrew, or a combination of Hebrew and English (Heblish? Enbrew?) so it’s widely accessible to Israelis regardless of native tongue. The way it’s set up makes it sound more like the LSAT rather than the SAT/ACT, since that is primarily a test in reasoning and logic. It tests your ability to work through problems more than anything.

In my college experience, those come in handy regardless of what field you are in. Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences all require you to be able to think through your problems and communicate why you think what you do. And that is something that I excel at as an autistic student, and wish I’d had a chance to work on more in high school, because they’re the skills I truly needed to cultivate and nurture. I adapted quickly, but I can’t help but wonder how this test would impact the admission numbers of autistic college students if it were implemented in North America.

The PET test isn’t perfect, of course, no test is. But a wider variety of tests accepted for admissions to university which accommodate different types of thinkers, including this one, and tests which measure how a student is capable in different areas of reasoning, logic, and argument-building would be wonderful. It’s a bit of a shame we don’t find out how handy they are until we’re actually in our courses and are slightly panicking.

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