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It’s been a while that rumors and discussions about abolishing the admission exams for medicine altogether are taking place in Italy. The alternative that was proposed is the French system where no admission exam takes places and everybody gets into the first year.

Why did this idea appear in the first place?

Every single year after the admission exams were held, a wave of lawsuits (Italian) made by candidates followed, blaming everything and everyone for any imperfection in the test or the way it was performed for their failure to pass it. What is baffling about it, is that every single year the court decided in their favor and ordered to forcefully integrate those candidates into the already full classes. This year (2014) alone 5000 candidates all over Italy were readmitted this way, creating an impossible situation of overcrowded classes with people sitting on stairs in some medical schools.
Moreover, the structure of the test was changed often between the years because of disputes about which skill should the exam cover, leading in many cases to lawsuits as well.
Lastly, “reform” is always a lucrative word in politics and not surprisingly the discussion about changing the admission system became much louder just before the elections to the European Parliament this year, and shortly after would have been forgotten until the horrified medical faculties started to demand answers in last weeks.

What exactly is this alternative French system?

The problem is that the alternative was not really defined very clearly. The minister was talking about passing to something resembling the French admission system, in which every candidate is  admitted automatically to the first year of medicine, attends lectures, takes exams and by the end of the year a decision is made, based on academic achievements who is going to continue to second year and eventually become a doctor and who will need to discontinue his studies. Some might object that its a waste of time and resources to hold back thousands of those people during this first year just so that 90% of them will eventually be rejected. The bright side is that some exams in first year of medicine are compatible with other degrees like biology (except that there is no University that offers an English biology course those day to my knowledge), but even then a question arises what will happen to the non Italian candidates who nowadays constitute 30% or more of some courses ?

So is it the end of IMAT?

To spare you the tension, I will just say that the IMAT 2015 is planned to be carried out as it was before and the shift to the new admission system will not happen before 2016 (although I doubt that it will happen at all). So if you were planning to postpone your admissions to medicine in Italy, I would suggest you reconsider and take the exam while you still can.

As in previous years, any official regulation for the next test is not available yet and based on previous experience it will be published not long before the test itself will take place. Anyway I wouldn’t expect big changes in contents or rules from last year.

Feel free to comment below (the error in commenting is repaired. Sorry for that.)

Alex Ochakovski (Pavia)
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