Just Testing….

I hate exams. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who claims to enjoy them, but I hate them with a passion. It’s not the actual exams I hate; rather it is the preparation. The mind-numbing boredom of revision, the stress and tension. Doing the exam is normally fine – I enter, deal with what is in front of me and exit. But I don’t like the build-up. For this reason, when I graduated, I promised myself that I would never again sit another exam.

So much for that promise. I have probably sat more exams and tests during this tour guiding course than I did throughout my time at university! As I mentioned in my post about what we learn in the classroom, we learn a huge amount of subjects. At the end of each subject, whether a historical period or a type of architecture, we face an exam. And if we fail the exam, we need to keep taking it until we pass, or we will not be allowed to sit the mid-term, or indeed the final exam.

Speaking of which, there are of course the mid-term and the final exams. At the moment I am just talking about exams that are within the School of Tourism, where I was studying. No national exams yet. The Ministry of Tourism has a rule that in order to be able to sit its final exams as a tour guide, you need to have passed a mid-term and also a final exam in your college.

Our mid-term was held, appropriately, just over half-way through the course. The written paper consisted of a series of multiple choice questions. The oral involved facing a panel of three very experienced tour guides, answering any questions they may throw at you.

The stress for the mid-term was high; as you can imagine there was a vast amount of information to absorb. Although there was a possibility to retake it, and eventually everyone passed.

Then, at the end of the course, came the final exams. These are an exact replica of what we were to face in the national Ministry of Tourism exams.

First, came the written exam. It is built in two parts. In Part A there are a series of multiple choice questions (which are far from easy). Part B, three hours long, involves you choosing from a list of three groups and having to build a two day itinerary, within quite tight restrictions in terms of geography or sites to visit. After building the itinerary, you need to fill in the main points of your guiding, together with logistical points (toilets, lunch, payment for sites etc). And then there is the ‘expansion point’, one page of A4 where you choose a site on your itinerary and write a full page of your guiding, exactly as you would deliver it to the tourists. It is tough, gruelling, and many people do not manage to even finish it in the time given.

Quite a few of my classmates sadly did not pass this final written exam, so were unable to take the real, national exams in Jerusalem.

After the written exam, comes the oral, which we take after sitting the national written exam. Here, you have to submit a day itinerary for a group of your choice and choose one part of the tour on which to give a 10 minute presentation to the examiners. After this, they can ask you anything they like for 20 minutes. Anything. Assuming you pass this one, you are allowed to take the national oral exam.

With all this, perhaps you can understand why the pass-rates for the course are so low!


  1. Nadia Samakh says:

    Hi, I just stumbled onto your website by accident today. I have just started my tour guiding course in Jerusalem last week and am working on my first field trip report. I must say – there’s a lot to write !
    I am very grateful for the information that you shared on this website – both in relation to the course and the exams (very scary !!!!) and in relation to the your actual trips. Much appreciated. Hope you’re enjoying your work as a guide (and earning a decent living from it as well!). Will keep an eye on your blog to find out. Chag sameach

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