The 2019 IMAT might be nothing like in the previous years.
If you want to send in your IMAT application this year, there could be a big change regarding IMAT questions that you absolutely must know in order to optimize your preparation.
Right now we will discuss this major update along with four other important differences that emerged recently.
A few days ago, one of the users of our Facebook page pointed out a possible huge update in IMAT questions for 2019, coming from an official source. She was referring to an official leaflet*** published by Cambridge Assessment on its website.
*** PLEASE NOTE: the official leaflet has a wrong registration deadline, as it has been postponed from July 9 to July 25 at 3 PM (IMAT registration and payment). We have confirmed this info with official sources.
We did our bit of research and we can confirm that this leaflet is:
1- absolutely legitimate
2- big news for the IMAT test
3- possibly a game changer for IMAT preparation
In the next few sections we will analyse all the pieces of new info that appear in this leaflet, step by step. If you don’t have time to read the entire post, number 5 is the big one.
What are IMAT and Cambridge Assessment?
If you’re new to our website and have only recently learned that you can study medicine or dentistry in English in Italy, you might not know that one of the main steps in applying to Italian med schools is the International Medical Admission Test (IMAT for short).
This test is designed by Cambridge Assessment, which is well known around the world for creating a number of medical admission tests, notably the BMAT and IMAT.
Changes in the way Cambridge produces the entry exam affect all applicants to International Medical Schools in Italy, so everyone who wants to study in Italy absolutely must know about these changes.
That said, in the leaflet that we’re going to analyse, it’s clearly stated that “All details are correct at the time of going to print in April 2019 but may be subject to change”. They also invite everyone to keep checking the IMAT website and the Italian Ministry of Universities and Research (MIUR) website for definitive updates.
But now, without further ado, what could change in the 2019 IMAT?
1 – New registration date
Every year we at MEDschool.it break down the steps and deadlines for IMAT application in a short guide. Last year, registration to the test was possible throughout the month of July, but this year things might actually be a bit different.
It’s no dealbreaker, but this year, applications for Italian medschools and dentistry schools in English should open in mid-June, specifically on June 17, and should close on July 25.
As previously confirmed, the IMAT 2019 test date will be September 12. This is an official date set by the Italian Ministry of Education, and is highly unlikely to change.
2 – University of Padua Medical School?
It’s been about 10 years since the first International med schools in Italy were born. First came the Harvey course in Pavia, then IMS-Milan and Rome Tor Vergata, and now we already have 11 med schools and even one dentistry in English programme.
It seems, however, that this process is far from being over, and that English-language med schools in Europe will soon include one more young Italian sibling. In the Cambridge leaflet we can see that the University of Padua is starting its own English medical course in 2019.
Check this out:
There have been rumors about this for quite some time, and it seems to be further confirmed by the presence of a dedicated page about the University of Padua Medical School on their official website.
Exciting, isn’t it?
Right now there is no definitive information, but there are some amazing implications.
First of all, the University of Padua is one of the highest ranking med schools in Italy, with a long history of delivering excellent education and giving birth to incredible pieces of research. So obviously, it’s going to be a great choice among all the international med schools.
But this is not everything:
An additional university means more available seats in general for Italian medical schools in English. If what is written on the Padua website is confirmed, there will be 60 seats more than last year!
It’s great that the number of English medical schools in Italy is increasing. In just a decade, the number of places went from 100 to almost 600 — and this without counting the private universities.
There is no info available on what the Padua course will actually be like, but if you want much more descriptions of the other medical schools in Italy in English, check out our huge comparison page.
3 – English language requirements (no change!)
Well, the third point is actually something that hasn’t changed from previous years. We’re often asked about which English-language entry requirements you need in order to take the IMAT.
As for previous years, no English language certification is needed; however, our friends at Cambridge Assessment state the following:
What does this mean?
Simply put, Cambridge intends the IMAT for people who possess a B2 language certification. According to the Common European Framework of Reference, B2 is equal to a First Certificate of English, an IELTS 5.5, or a 46-59 overall TOEFL score.
In Italy, high school students who have a fairly good English level compared to their classmates often take the FCE exam in their last or second-to-last year, so this is the proficiency that is expected from students who completed secondary school.
Does this matter for you specifically?
You might think that your English proficiency is not important because no certificate is required, and it doesn’t count towards the final score.
But here’s the thing: it does.
When I was your age and I was sitting the IMAT myself, I remember that I didn’t manage to finish all the questions, because the exam was so long that my relatively poor reading speed in English was actually slowing me down.
Some days earlier, I had done the Italian admission exam and had no problem whatsoever finishing it. But on IMAT day, I didn’t have the time to read all the questions!
The only thing that had changed was that this time, the questions were not in my native language.
My takeaway: hone your English reading and comprehension skills. There are plenty of resources online, and even just doing IMAT past papers and quizzes on a daily basis will help you improve your overall score.
4 – The IMAT fee
Compared to other English-language med schools in Europe, studying in Italy is seriously cheap. You can find more about the costs of studying medicine in our dedicated section.
Until 2018, the IMAT entry fee used to be £105 /€120 /$164. Well, this year, there’s a small surprise for us.
Taking the IMAT in 2019 costs MORE than in 2018!
Yes, it’s just £9 more, or €10, or… $0 more? Err… what’s with this weird currency ratio change anyway?
On a more serious note, the prices had remained exactly the same since English med schools in Italy started 10 years ago, and if you account for inflation and current trends in the global economy, the fee increase makes perfect sense.
5 – IMAT question change (HUGE!) & how to prepare for it
Pay attention now, because this is potentially a complete game-changer in your IMAT preparation. As most of you already know, the IMAT test is a multiple-choice test, with 60 questions in 100 minutes.
Each question is worth 1.5 points for a right answer, -0.4 for a wrong answer, and 0 points for no anser. IMAT past papers from about 2013 up to now have followed these rules
So what’s new?
Take a look at the next picture to understand… and prepare to be scared (!)
Did you see that?
Up until 2018, IMAT questions were divided into four sections: the first comprised 20 logical reasoning questions and 2 general knowledge; the second:18 biology, 12 chemistry, 8 physics and mathematics.
Now scroll back up and look at the picture again.
YES, now you see it. General Knowledge is the single most frightening subject during IMAT preparation, and the number of questions about it has just increased from only two to a whopping 12! All this at the expense of Logical Reasoning, which saw a decrease from 20 to 10.
Why is this bad?
Because you almost can’t study for General Knowledge! Not many books that prepare you for these sorts of questions.
To try and explain better what General Knowledge is, I looked up the description of this subject on the MIUR website; it states:
“I quesiti verteranno su testi di saggistica scientifica o narrativa di autori classici o contemporanei, oppure su testi di attualità comparsi su quotidiani o su riviste generalistiche o specialistiche.”
The rough translation to English is:
“The questions will concern scientific texts or literature by classic and contemporary authors, or texts about recent topics that appeared on newspapers or general or specialized journals.”
Fundamentally, it means everything. There may be questions about authors you studied in high school, from English literature, Italian literature, French literature, etc. — pretty much any sort of literature you can think of. It can be about recent events that appeared in newspapers, such as Brexit, migration in Europe, the rise of the populist governments, economic sanctions on Iran, what your neighbour ate yesterday, and so forth.
I want to repeat that none of the changes mentioned on this page are definitive. They are still present on the Cambrdige website as of today, May 10, 2019, but the Italian Ministry still has to confirm all this in the IMAT registration announcement.
However, we can say that these changes are very likely to happen because the admissions test for Italian-language medical schools in Italy has already changed accordingly, so IMAT will probably follow suit.
Furthermore, you have to consider that all those who are planning to study medicine in Italy in 2019 (and possibly in later years) will be affected by this change, so the ranking should shift towards a higher or lower minimum score on average for everyone.
If you are preparing for IMAT now, there is still something you can do about it.
Since all this news came out, a few of the companies that provide textbooks for Italian medical admission tests have already published books specifically for General Knowledge. However, these books are in Italian, are designed explicitly for the Italian admission test, and may not be suitable for the English medical admission test.
If you want to gain a competitive edge, we at MEDschool.it have devised IMATschool, a platform which is devoted entirely to IMAT preparation. By subscribing to IMATschool you will gain access to the most complete compendium of resources for preparing for the IMAT.
At IMATschool you will find expert IMAT teachers, a full online IMAT course in July, video courses, questions, and even an IMAT simulator!
Remember also that those of you who wish to study Dentistry in English in Italy will have to sit the IMAT, so these courses are extremely valuable even if you want to enroll in the University of Siena Dentistry course.
But that’s not all:
While other IMAT courses often ask you to pay a fee which is easily in the thousands of euros, and require you to physically move abroad, with IMATschool you will not only pay a fraction of that price in order to access the most complete and effective resource bank for IMAT preparation, but you will be able to do so from the comfort of your home.
Check out IMATschool for more information.
6 – BONUS: How hard is the IMAT?
I’m sure that plenty of you have been wondering this, but how hard is the IMAT actually? Well, according to the Cambridge Assessment website:
“The test does not require a lot of extra study as it is a test of skills and knowledge that learners are expected to have already.”
That doesn’t mean, however, that the test is easy. And it does not mean that extra study won’t help. It just means the test does not require extra study. We have found that extra study has helped many test-takers to get better scores.
This year’s IMAT will definitely have a few surprises for us, particularly in the General Knowledge questions. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter and join our Facebook group to remain updated with the latest info about International Medical Schools in Italy. Also, don’t forget to check IMATschool to improve your IMAT preparation and maximize your chances of getting one of the top spots in this year’s exams.
Also, let us know your opinion on the major changes! Do you think they will affect your preparation? Do you think the minimum entry score will increase or decrease? And finally, are you excited about the new medical university in Padua probably opening soon?
As usual, best of luck to you all,
Disclaimer: the present article is based on material published by Cambridge Assessment and by the Italian Ministero dell’Istruzione, Università e Ricerca (MIUR). It is stated both in the article and in the aforementioned material that all information presented is by no means definitive and may be subject to change as we approach the exam. Medschool.it is not to be held accountable should any piece of information turn out to be inaccurate.
Emergency medicine physician, graduated in Pavia. After going through six tough years of med school, I know how valuable information and encouragement can be; so here I am, trying to provide a bit of both with my posts.
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