Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Our Shiputzim Parental Guide to the Bagruyot

As Israeli teenagers and their parents are well aware, ‘tis the season for that annual Israeli rite of passage: the bagruyot (matriculation exams – bagrut is the singular term).

This period can be particularly stressful for new oleh parents. After all, bagruyot are very different from SAT’s, Achievements, Regents, A-Levels, O.W.L.’s, and all the other standardized tests of their own high school years.

In fact, although we made aliyah over a decade ago, there are still many aspects of the bagrut system which I don’t understand. For instance:

  1. How can it be that a “100” in history can lower one’s average?
  2. Why does one need two days off for every bagrut?
  3. How can one’s score on a nationwide, standardized test be partially determined by each individual teacher’s subjective grade?

But one thing I have learned is that the most important thing is to sound as if you know what you’re talking about – even if, in reality, you haven’t got a clue.

And so, in keeping with this blog’s unstated goal of assisting new and veteran olim, I’ve asked the official Our Shiputzim Information Specialist to draw up a list of bagrut basics.

See how many of these terms you can identify. (Please leave your responses in the comment section. B”N, I’ll post an update with the correct answers some time in the next week or two.)

  • Matkonet
  • Ezrachut
  • Hagashah (Occasionally - and somewhat inaccurately - also known as tziyun magen)
  • Megamah
  • Feezikah
  • On-seen (Hat tip: Jameel)
  • Mikud
  • Lashon
  • Yechidot
  • Machshevet (Hint: this is not to be confused with machsheivim)
  • ‘G’
  • Eretz
  • Mo’ed bet
  • Efess-chamesh

Update: The "answers" can be found here.

Don’t feel too bad if you only got four or five.

Or one.

Or none.

Because the next time your teenager cryptically refers to “the matkonet” and complains about “lashon and ezrachut," you can just whip out this guide, nod intelligently, and say:

“Don’t worry. There’s always mo’ed bet, and isn’t the mikud pretty easy this year anyway? And besides, your hagashah wasn’t bad at all, no?”

Your child won’t know what hit him…


!בהצלחה לכל הנבחנים


  1. I don't have a clue about any of these terms but am eager to learn.

  2. “Don’t worry. There’s always mo’ed bet, and isn’t the mikud pretty easy this year anyway? And besides, your hagashah wasn’t bad at all, no?”
    Good fakeout!

  3. I'm waiting with baited breath for the definitions! We just had an "erev megamot" for for my 9th grader, and my head is spinning w/ many of the terms you posted. This is a hot harder to deal with than buying the appropriate food for masa!

  4. Thanks for this post-it made me feel so intelligent and like such an "oleh vatik". As the mother of four teenagers BA"H I knew all the terms! Yay! Although I would be hard pressed to actually translate most of them.

  5. There are more more more!

    What are?

    "A, B, C"
    "C, D, E"
    "E, F, G"

    (say they with an Israeli accent).

    Additional matriculation exam from the UK: GCSC.

    Don't forget, even if a student doesn't get their Teudat Bagrut when they finish high school, it can be finished after the army...


  6. I have a post running through my head about the bagrut as well. I'm proud to say I knew all but two of the answers. But really, it's my daughter that needs to know this stuff.

    Good Luck to the kids!

  7. Ilana-Davita - I thought you might be interested. Is there a French equivalent?

    SuperRaizy - /*looks away and whistles while feigning innocence*/

    Rachel - Ah, but according to some of my children, food for the masa is WAY more important than mere bagruyot...

    Malke - That IS impressive. Of course, as I'm sure you know, the real problem is that as soon as one figures out the system, they go and change the rules...

    Jameel - My son also wanted to know why I only wrote "G" and ignored all the rest. But you're right that there are many other terms which I could've added - including, ri'ali and (as per your suggestion) hakalot...

    Baila - One of our teenagers goes to a school where they don't have an "erev megamot" and never bother to explain anything, but somehow, all the kids manage to figure out the system. It's just frustrating when one can't advise one's own children...

  8. We have exams in France, but not for all classes every year.
    I will try and give you the equivalents when we get the "translations".

  9. Ilana-Davita - Usually, students take most of the tests in the 11th and 12th grades, but some tests are administered in 10th grade.

    I suspect that I won't have a chance to post the "translations" until after Shavuot.

    Happy Yom Yerushalayim and Shabbat Shalom!

  10. Mrs. S.-Yes, either that and/or your kid passes on to the next stage and you find yourself clueless once again (tzav giyus, anyone?)

  11. It's ok not to know all these terms. Even people who took the bagruyot some years back don't know them all.
    Every few years a new system and new terms are thought up by the goverment. and they get weirder and weirder each time.....

  12. Malke - Tzav giyus? Were there any recent developments on that front (no pun intended) in your family, or was it just a theoretical example?

    SPYYMZ - So, in other words, the bottom line is that not only can't you win, you can't even come close...

  13. Hi, All.
    I finally added the "definitions" for these bagrut terms here.


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