Studying in a foreign country is exhilarating. New people, different sights. Everything is fresh, exciting, and…sometimes confusing.
What exactly is a bagrut? What are yechidot? What’s a megama and how do I choose one? Going to high school in Israel means embarking on an incredible adventure. Like every smart traveler, you’ll want to come knowing some key phrases so you don’t feel lost!
At Naale, you’re not on your own. Your Regional Manager, Naale Coordinator, counselors, and teachers are there to answer any questions you’ll have along the way.
How about a head start on the important lingo you’ll hear at Naale?
Here are the top 15 terms you’ll want to know about all things academic in Israeli high school:
National exams for your diploma
Bagrut exams are the national exams students complete in a range of subjects. Some people use the term “matriculation” and sometimes the exams are compared to A-Levels in the UK, or final exams. Don’t stress if you don’t relate to these terms! We’ve got you covered.
Bagrut exams (plural – bagruyot) are written tests that involve serious study and preparation. Bagrut exams in language subjects also include a spoken component.
#2 Teudat Bagrut
The teudat bagrut is the bagrut diploma. It’s internationally recognized and allows students to study in university in Israel or around the world. Some Israeli employers and army units also take the teudat bagrut into consideration so it’s definitely a big deal.
Required subjects for the teudat bagrut include math, English, history, civics, Hebrew language, literature, Bible study, and sports. Students choose an additional one or two electives – more on those in a bit. Volunteer work is also required for the teudat bagrut.
#3 Matkonet and #4 Ha’aracha chilufit
The bagrut exam isn’t the only thing that counts. A student’s overall bagrut score combines the bagrut exam grade with practice bagrut tests (matkonot, or singular matkonet) and alternative assessments or projects (ha’aracha chilufit).
A student’s matkonot, haaracha chilufit, as well as classwork and attendance, form a score called the magen or tziyun shnati. The magen and bagrut exam scores are tallied together towards a student’s final grade for the class.
Naale students may get leniencies or hakalot towards their bagruyot, which can include things like extra time or additional points. Your Naale Coordinator will be able to advise you on this and other bagrut-related matters.
Points of study, based on difficulty level
School subjects in Israel are studied at varying levels of difficulty, called yechidot limud, or yechidot for short. A single yechida represents a unit of study, or module. School subjects range from 1-5 yechidot, with 5 being the most challenging (for some subjects, more than 5 yechidot may be possible).
Passing a bagrut exam (with a grade of 56 or higher) earns you the number of points you studied. Those points are tallied towards your total teudat bagrut. So learning 4 points of math and passing the exam earns you 4 points towards your teudat bagrut. A teudat bagrut consists of at least 21 points, combining the different subjects you learned.
Each school has its own unique breakdown of which subjects are offered at which level of difficulty. For instance, a religious school will typically offer 5 yechidot of Tanach or Bible studies.
In math, a student chooses to study 3, 4, or 5 yechidot. 3 yechidot is considered basic high school math. Most students in Israel study 3 yechidot of math. 4 yechidot is advanced math, and 5 yechidot is considered university-level math, requiring significant extra study.
English speakers learn English at the highest level offered in Israel and generally finish studying English earlier than other students.
Electives or Majors
High schools in Israel offer different megamot, or electives, that are studied intensively. Students choose at least one megama based on their interests.
Megamot can include subjects like history, chemistry, performing arts, diplomacy, computers, biology, art, law, media studies, and more. Because a megama subject is studied at a higher level, it earns students 5 points towards the bagrut.
The megama students choose is a subject they enjoy and want to learn in depth. Megamot are similar to a college major, on a strong high school level. For example, a chemistry megama involves additional study hours, more challenging material, and other hands-on experiences like lab work or field trips related to the subject.
The megama a student chooses in high school doesn’t necessarily have bearing on a future career, but it’s a nice way to get a taste of that field. Not all megamot are offered at every school, and sometimes a megama opens only if enough students are interested.
Tziyunim (singular – tziyun) are grades given on tests or assignments. 56 is considered the minimum passing grade in Israel.
A teuda is a student’s regular report card, not to be confused with the teudat bagrut you get when you finish all of your high school bagrut exams.
The school year is broken up into 2 semesters or terms. Each semester is called a machatsit, and report cards are distributed at the end of each machatsit.
A mechanech (female – mechanechet) is a homeroom teacher, who teaches the class certain subjects and accompanies the class to events or activities. The mechanech/et gets to know students on a more personal level and is often in closer contact with the family. In a boys’ religious high school, the mechanech is known as a RaM, or Rav Mechanech.
#13 Kita and #14 Shichva
Depending on the size of the school, there are several classes (kitot or singular kita) that make up each age level. All the classes together in a student’s grade (9, 10, 11, or 12th grade) are called the shichva.
High schools will have a yoetz (female – yoetzet) or guidance counselor, as well as other support staff. Naale students can also turn to the Naale Coordinator at their school for assistance. Reach out – we’re here for you!
There you have it – the 15 most important school terms to know for high school in Israel. As you use these words, they’ll become second nature. Try them out and you’ll sound like a typical Israeli teenager in no time!
Next time we’ll address some other terms and phrases you’ll use outside the classroom – in your dorm, at activities, and beyond. See you then!