Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper is reporting that the number of candidates registered for the IMAT entrance exam to public English med schools in Italy increased dramatically this year over previous years. MEDschool.it is attempting to independently verify the report. 10,450 candidates are registered, according to the paper — versus 7,660 in 2018, about 7,000 in 2017, 4,875 in 2016, and 3,475 in 2015. The candidate total therefore has increased by about 25% over last year, and has tripled since four years ago.

The total number of first-year places available in all the public schools is now 740 in 2019, with spots added this year in a number of schools, including the new program at the University of Padua. In the table below, all the public schools are listed by EU-affiliated and non-EU-affiliated spots.

It is not yet known which portion of the 10,450 candidates is EU and which is non-EU. However, in 2019 some test locations were removed compared to 2018, and some were added.

Removed test locations are: Buenos Aires, Torres Vedras (Portugal), and Barcelona

Added test locations are: Beijing, Padova (Italy), Lahore, Johannesburg, and Madrid

The addition of Beijing and Lahore, in particular, may have contributed to the large increase in candidates, as these testing centers opened up the IMAT to test-takers in non-Hong Kong China and Pakistan, two highly-populated parts of the globe.

The number of students registered for the entrance exam to Italian-language med schools in Italy remained almost constant, at 68,694 versus 67,005 last year, for some 11,500 places this year. The admissions rate to medicine in English is therefore much lower than medicine in Italian. The fact that the number of Italian-language applicants stayed flat provides evidence — although inconclusive — that the increase in IMAT test-takers is attributable to an increase in non-Italian candidates. If this is true, then it may be the case that non-EU admissions percentages will drop considerably this year. However, the emphasis here is on may. We will only know this as a fact (or not) when we see the final admissions statistics for the year, when the total number of non-EU applicants is made public.

It may alternately be true that non-EU admissions percentages remain about the same this year, but that the number of non-Italian EU candidates has increased. In this case, the competition for EU places will increase, but not necessarily for non-EU.

Another possibility is that both EU and non-EU admissions percentages will drop.

The fact that interest in the IMAT has tripled in the last four years indicates that English-language med schools in Italy may be growing quickly, both in perceived desirability as well as international prominence, relative to many MD programs. In comparison to Italy, the total number of applicants to all US med schools has remained constant since 2015, at about 52,000 per year.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a private English med school in Italy, Humanitas University, had over 1200 registered test-takers this year, an increase of 14% over 2018. They competed for 100 EU and 50 non-EU spots. Also in 2019, the private Vita Salute-San Rafaelle University had some 850 EU candidates for 36 places, and 11 non-EU candidates for five spots.

Another major change in the IMAT this year is the increase in the number of general knowledge questions from two to 12, and a decrease in the number of logical reasoning questions from 20 to 10.


Table of EU and non-EU Places in Public Med Schools, 2019 Admission

SchoolPlaces for students from EU-affiliated countriesPlaces for Non-EU-affiliated students
Campania (formerly SUN Naples)4040
Milan-Bicocca (Bergamo)2213
Naples Federico II1510
Pavia7035 (+5 Marco Polo from China)
Rome La Sapienza3510
Rome Tor Vergata2510
Turin7030 (+1 Marco Polo)
Erik Campano