Applying to International Medical Schools in Italy can be very overwhelming! The best way to make the procedure as painless as possible is to become informed in all aspects of the application process. Unlike other Medical School applications that take many factors into account such as grade point average from prior education, volunteer work, and physician shadowing experiences, the Italian Medical School application process puts the majority of its weight on one test: the IMAT. For this reason, it has been argued that the most important part of the entire application to Italian Medical School is the International Medical School Admissions Test (or IMAT for short). The IMAT is an extensive standardized test used by some Medical Schools in Italy to evaluate applicant’s readiness to attend Medical School. Before we dive into the what’s what of the IMAT, let’s take a closer look at the institutions that require this standardized test.
There are 10 Public Universities in Italy that Require the IMAT:
- University of Pavia
- University of Milan
- University of Bari
- University of Bologna
- University of Turin
- Sapienza University of Rome
- IMS Rome, Tor Vergata University
- IMS Naples Federico II
- IMS Campania Luigi Vanvitelli
- IMS Bicocca
Each university has its own unique application process, but some commonalities can be found amongst them all, such as; each school requires the applicant to have obtained a high school degree or equivalent. If you are in the final year of high school and you will be awarded a degree prior to the start date of the year you are applying for, you may register for the IMAT. In addition, each school requires the applicant to be proficient in English. If English is not your native language, you may take the TOEFL (English Proficiency Test) and submit the passing results to the medical school to prove that you have adequate knowledge of the language. These requirements are essential to your success in passing the IMAT given the fact that the test is entirely in English and it contains questions that are pertinent to the knowledge you’ve acquired from high school.
There are 4 Private Universities in Italy that Require the IMAT:
- Cattolica University, Rome
- Saint Camillus International University of Health and Medical Sciences, Rome *requires UMAT*
- Humanitas University, Rozzano
- San Rafaelle University, Segrate
Similarly to the application process of Public Universities, Private Universities have their own application processes and also require students to have obtained a high school education, and be satisfactory in English.
Public Universities Vs. Private Universities
Both Public and Private Universities offer single – cycle Medical School programs that are six years in length. It may be important to consider that vast difference in Medical School tuition between Public and Private Universities. Private Universities range between 15,000 to 20,000 Euro a year, where as Public Universities range between 200 to 4,000 Euro a year.
When applying to Public Universities, applicants only need to sign up for one IMAT that will take place once a year, usually in the beginning of September. The registration timeline for the Public IMAT varies, but it is usually open from June to September.
Conversely, each Private University has its own unique IMAT that occur at different dates, usually between March and June. The registration dates range from December to June.
Many Italian Universities require applicants to create some type of online identifications through the process of signing up with their respective online portals. Many Public Universities also require applicants to fill out Pre-Application Forms prior to taking the IMAT.
Because Private Universities host their own International Medical School Admissions Tests, there is a fee associated with each Private IMAT you sit for. Conversely, there is only one fee to take the Public IMAT that is used for all Public University applications. The fee is usually about 160,00 Euro for each IMAT.
IMAT Format and Scoring
The information regarding the Public IMAT format and scoring is the same for every public school:
Each student is allotted 100 minutes to complete 60 Total Multiple Choice Questions. The questions are divided into the following categories:
10 Logical Reasoning
8 Physics and Math
For each correct answer, a student will receive +1.5 points. For each question left unanswered, the student will receive 0.0 points. For each incorrect answer, the student will receive -0.4 points. The highest possible score attainable is 90 points. Each Public University has their admission statistics posted on their website. There is no set passing IMAT score, however; historically, a ‘good score’ is 45 points or higher.
The guidelines for how each Private IMAT is structured and graded is very similar to the Public IMAT, and differs slightly from one Private University to the next. Students can find the admission statistics for each Private University on their respective websites.
If you decide to sit for the Public IMAT, you will be instructed by the test’s proctor to rank the public schools in the order in which you want to attend. For example, if IMS Milan is your number one choice, you would rank that in position number one, followed by the remaining nine schools in that respective order. Please note that the order in which you rank each Public University is taken into account by the Public Universities when they receive your IMAT score.
Prior to ranking, it may be beneficial to consider the number of seats each university offers to EU and Non-EU students, as well as, the city in which each school resides, pricing and the possibility for scholarships or financial aid, and any other factors that are important to you.
As previously mentioned each individual Private School offers its own IMAT, with their own admission requirements, so ranking is not applicable.
Preparing for the IMAT
In order to do well on the IMAT, you need to study! Luckily for applicants, each university website offers a detailed list of all topics that will be fair game on the exam. As previously mentioned, the questions on the IMAT are derived from high school level Math, Science, English, and History, so it would be advantageous to review old notes and textbooks from your high school years.
Medical School requires an immense amount of organization, and preparing to get into Medical School is no different! Everyone studies in a different way, so constructing a study plan that is specific to your needs and abilities is very important. Applicants that familiarize themselves with their own personal study habits and learn what methods work best for them will more likely than not obtain a higher score on the IMAT. The best way to create a study plan is to write one that works around your current schooling, work schedule, and social life. Encompassing all aspects of life into the preparation the IMAT is essential to obtaining a sufficient score!
Aside from looking over previously learned subjects, there are some changes applicants can make to their daily routine that could be very beneficial to IMAT preparation. One of those changes is keeping up to date on current events. Taking some time out of the day to watch the news or read some articles pertaining to what is going on in the world can be very advantageous to applicants when it comes to taking the culture and general knowledge portion of the IMAT. Another addition to daily life that applicants can make that could help them obtain a higher score on the IMAT, is to incorporate some leisurely reading into the day. Something as simple as replacing a half hour of TV a day with an interesting book could encourage brain stimulation and promote more focus that could be directly applied to the IMAT.
Test Day Advice
The day of the International Medical School Admissions Test can cause applicants to be filled with a mix of emotions! Excitement, fear, joy, anxiety, and nervousness are just a few of the feelings that might be circulating through the minds of applicants on test day. While it might seem impossible to focus on anything other than nerves, one thing that can make all the difference is focusing on your breathing. Deep breaths on the way to the testing center, while waiting for the instructor to hand out the test, and during the examination can help applicants feel grounded and calmer. Another piece of advice is to keep all your attention on you! Diverting your focus to other applicants and what they are saying or doing is not beneficial to you in the slightest. Imagining you are the only applicant in the room and that the IMAT has been designed for especially for you can be very helpful! If all else fails and you are looking for a reason to stay positive, think about all the hard work and studying you have done to get you to this point, and feel proud!
Usually around a month after the Public or Private IMAT test has been taken, scores will be released. Applicants who have taken a Private IMAT will be told weather or not they have gained entrance to that particular private school. Applicants who have taken the Public IMAT will be given their score, and then about a week later, each Public University will post their own ranking list containing applicant’s identification numbers. It is through this ranking list that you will know whether or not you have been accepted to the Public University.
Post IMAT Procedures
Congratulations, you did it! Give yourself a pat on the back and take a deep breath of relief! The hardest part is over, but, unfortunately, the process that comes after the IMAT is not necessarily easy. Regardless of the type of applicant you are, (European, Non-European, Italian) the first thing you need to do to secure your seat at the Medical School you have been accepted to is pay the required down deposit. As soon as the University receives this payment, you have been enrolled into the University. It is important to keep in mind that many Universities have a deadline that you can pay this deposit by, so be on the lookout for important dates on their websites!
As a Non-European applicant, I can really only speak to my experiences with the post IMAT procedure; do describe it in one word, I would say that it was HECTIC! My advice to all applicants that require a Student Visa from their home country is: do not wait to schedule the appointment! In America, you are only able to schedule an appointment for a Visa Application at your state’s Italian Consulate. You can not apply for the Student Visa before three months to the start date of your University’s program. For Example, if you find out that you have been accepted to a program that starts in October 2020, you can not apply for your Student Visa until July 2020 even if you find out that you have been accepted in April of 2020. Regardless of the time constraints, it is always better to schedule an appointment in advance! Another contributing factor to the hectic definition of the post IMAT process is the documentation required to apply for a Student Visa. The Italian Consulate and Italian Embassy need a massive amount of information including:
Official Enrollment Letter
Declaration of Value
Visa Application Form
Passport sized headshots
High school (or equivalent) Transcripts
Proof of financial means
Multiple Photo ID’s
Proof of Health Insurance
While this all may seem very overwhelming it is very doable. Even if you run into unforeseen obstacles – such as not making an appointment early enough – there are always people who are willing to work with you and help you get to your end goal – attending Medical School in Italy! My best advice is to always be as prepared and polite as possible. While it may be advantageous to start looking into your own country’s Student Visa procedures and to start collecting some of these required documents prior to taking the IMAT, I do not recommend putting too much emphasis on this part of the application process. Preparing for the IMAT requires a lot of your time, effort, and energy, and without an adequate score, all of these post procedures will be unusable.
It is my hope that all of the information this post contains is useful for all applicants! I would like to dedicate this last portion of the post to sum up some of the most important points:
- Italian Medical Schools value the score you receive on the IMAT very much, so do not take this test lightly.
- In order to sit for the IMAT, you must have a high school degree or equivalent, and you must be proficient in the English language.
- It is important to familiarize yourself with the differences between Public and Private Universities and which type of University will work best for you. Do not underestimate the amount of information you can obtain by simply visiting each University’s website.
- Keep an eye on important registration dates and the processes required to pre-register for the IMAT.
- Should you decide to sit for the Public IMAT, be prepared to rank the Public Medical Schools.
- In order to optimize your preparation for the IMAT, familiarize yourself with the format of the test.
- Study in a way that fits into your life; no one knows how you learn better than you!
- On the day of the test, try to stay calm and do not worry about other applicants. You’ve got this!
- After you have taken the IMAT, be aware of when you should expect the results of your test.
- Once accepted into Italian Medical School, immediately start the rest of the application process- it can be very hectic, but it is worth all the fuss!
As a Medical Student on the other side of the IMAT, I must say that if there is one thing that this entire progression has showed me, it is that I needed to go through all steps of this lengthy process to have the confidence to succeed in Medical School. Deciding to start the adventure of applying to an International Medical School in Italy is a true investment. Gaining the information surrounding the IMAT and entire application procedure could be a course in itself! Combine the required research with the need to develop the self-discipline to sit down every day for three months to study for the IMAT, and you will watch yourself transform! I was also forced to incorporate a great deal of patience into my personality after working with all of the different bureaucratic obstacles of obtaining my Student Visa. The qualities I have gained from this experience are still benefitting me as I study in Medical School today. To every applicant on the fence about applying to IMS programs in Italy and sitting for the IMAT, I say go get ‘em and best of luck!