After months of preparation, the time has come – the IMAT is only a few days away. At the finish line, we’re here to give you an extra boost: a checklist of what to bring with you, tips on how to organize your trip to the test center, and a peek of what your test day will actually look like – raw and untainted.
This is the kind of information I would have killed for when I first sat the IMAT. The advantage of knowing what to expect on such a big day takes a big portion of the pressure away.
Deep breaths everyone!
Covid Pass needed to sit IMAT in Italy
In order to sit the IMAT exam on September 9th in Italy, you need an EU Digital Covid Certificate or another valid Covid Certificate. For more information read about the Green Pass here.
To be eligible for a Covid Green Pass, you need to fall in one of the following categories:
- to have completed the full vaccination cycle
- to have taken the first vaccination dose at least 15 days ago
- to present a negative PCR or a rapid test done in the last 48 hours
- to have healed from COVID in the last 6 months and have a certificate proving it.
* All European Medicines Agency (EMA) recognized vaccines are valid – Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and Janssen.
In the likely case, you’ve been vaccinated with another vaccine or another version of the same vaccine (eg. the Indian-made Astra Zeneca Vaccine “Covidshield”), your vaccine will not be sufficient to issue your Italian Green Pass. Instead, you need to present a negative PCR or antigen test done within 48 hours before the exam.
You might find yourself in another common scenario, where you’re neither vaccinated nor have you healed in the past 6 months, so you rely on negative test results. Say, you land in Italy 3 days before the IMAT exam. You’ll likely need to get tested once before your flight, but since your test is only valid for 48 hours, it would expire by the exam day. In this case, you’d need a second Covid test done. It might be useful to find the nearest laboratory in the city where you’re staying. You also need to be aware if the results of your covid test will be ready in time for the IMAT, as different labs might have different working times depending on how busy they are. The best is to organize by calling/emailing the lab in advance to be on the safe side.
If you are sitting the exam in another country, the regulations might differ. Pay close attention to any recent changes and the instructions your test center might have provided.
Before the test day
On the day before the test, it’s best to give yourself a rest from studying. If you’re still restless, however, you may go over your notes once more, instead of trying to learn a new concept last minute. Take it easy, get some air, hydrate. And most importantly, make sure to get a good night’s sleep.
Go check the location of the test center and the time for your commute to avoid being late on the test day. If you’re sitting the exam in Italy, the test centers are normally in one of the university buildings. Candidates in Italy are significantly more numerous than the rest of the test centers because a very large portion of them is Italian. So, one test center in Italy usually contains many buildings on campus and, respectively tens or even hundreds of examination rooms. Your task is to try to find which building and room you’re assigned to before the actual test day.
What to bring on the test day
- A valid ID: preferably the same ID you provided upon your registration on Universitaly.
- The printed confirmation you received upon the IMAT registration
- The printed receipt of payment for IMAT (you will find it in the email of the cardholder you’ve provided upon payment).
- EU Digital Covid Certificate or another valid Covid Certificate
- Self-Declaration form stating you haven’t experienced symptoms recently (read the test center’s requirements, as you might or might not need this declaration. In case you do need it, print it and fill it in advance).
- A face mask. Some venues (eg. Padova) require candidates to wear only FFP2 masks and all other face masks will not be allowed. Make sure to check the test center regulations closely to avoid problems, or be on the safe side and get an FFP2 anyway.
- Black pens: In test centers around the world, you need to bring a pen. In Italy, bringing your own pen is not allowed, you will be provided one upon entry.
- A bottle of water.
- An analog wristwatch (no mechanical watches are allowed). Most exam rooms have a watch, but I have personally sat the exam in a room without one. Imagine the shock upon the discovery by the fellow candidates who did not bring their own watch.
- A small snack is normally allowed but due to covid restrictions, it might depend on the test center.
What not to bring
- Valuable items. If you bring a bag with you, you’ll be asked to leave it in an unsupervised room together with all other candidates’ belongings. You can imagine that some applicants will finish the test earlier than others and thus, it will be best not to bring anything of worth.
- Any mechanical device (including a mechanical watch) will not be allowed. If you bring one, it will have to stay in your bag in the abovementioned room.
- A calculator of any kind.
What’s the IMAT day like
Alright, you’ve probably already read the official requirements and checked your commute a couple of times. But you’d feel way more relaxed if you knew what to expect on the test day.
I’ve been where you are. Not one but.. 4 times. I took the IMAT in two consecutive years as I scored low the first time. I also took the Italian test for entry in Italian-taught medical courses as a backup in both of those years. Be it, call me a masochist. But I have plenty of impressions to share on what the IMAT day looks and feels like, especially in an Italian test center.
Wake up rested
Hopefully, you’ve slept well. Hopefully, you haven’t taken a sleep-inducing relaxant in the small hours of the night to get some rest from the constant questions popping in your mind between the wake-sleep states. If you did, you might feel a bit too slow in the morning. And you don’t want that on the IMAT. Hopefully, you don’t decide to compensate with a double coffee, as you’ll remember it’s a potent diuretic somewhere in the middle of solving the general knowledge section.
Find the building
Double-check your documents and allowed items and head out earlier. You need to get to the test venue 2 hours before the beginning of the IMAT. Once you arrive you’ll be astonished by the number of candidates. At this moment you’ll be thanking yourself if you personally checked the exact building and room location the previous day. It feels like a concert crowd as everybody is gathered outside of the buildings, waiting to be called. The building names can be confusing and on this day you won’t be allowed to enter the building to find your room by yourself. This may not be the case in smaller test centers outside of Italy.
I’ve seen plenty of people on a frantic last-minute run between various buildings on campus. if you’re sitting the exam in Italy, you need to know which is your building and stand near it because the exam organizers will call for all students assigned to a particular room to bring them there together. This normally happens an hour before the official start of the exam. If you miss this call because you’re late, you might find it very difficult to enter the building. Just follow the crowd and you’ll be fine.
In front of the test room
At the entrance of the exam room, everybody will be asked to leave their bags/ prohibited belongings outside the actual testing room. As mentioned above, avoid bringing valuable devices/ documents/money, etc.
You will be allowed to use the restroom before entering the exam room. And here comes an understated but important point – don’t drink too much water. You don’t want to be distracted during the IMAT.
Afterward, you’ll be asked to show your ID, printed confirmation of registration for the IMAT, and the payment receipt, along with your Covid documents. In case a document is missing, you will not be allowed to sit the exam.
Upon entry, the staff will choose a seat and point you to it. If you’re one of the first to enter, you’ll endure an hour-long trial of your patience until everyone else’s documentation is checked and assigned a seat. If you’re more thoughtful, you’ll enter the room later and enjoy your growing anxiety outside in the hallway where you can walk it off.
Afterward, the exam organizers will read the instructions and show you the contents of the envelopes you’ll receive and how and when to fill in the details of each piece of paper. They will also explain where to put each envelope after the exam is over. Be extra attentive during this explanation because a mistake in one of these procedures will disqualify you from the competition. Much like regretting you didn’t listen to the flight attendant’s instructions once heavy turbulence kicks in.
Here’s an old (but still helpful) video of the contents of the envelope and how to use them. Unfortunately, it’s in Italian only, as it’s created for the purposes of the Italian entry test, but the procedure is identical for the IMAT. The video is simply exemplary to give you an idea of what to expect. There might be changes or differences with the instructions you’re given on the test day, so pay attention.
Once the exam finally begins, make sure you’re aware of how much time you have left as you proceed with the IMAT. Some people have a strategy as to which sections to solve first, others just start from the beginning. During my second (and successful) IMAT, I had decided to solve my strongest topics first and leave the unpredictable topics such as General Knowledge questions for the end.
Another factor to consider is that some candidates will finish their work earlier and will not wait till the end of the exam to hand in their papers. The exam room will get louder in the last 20 minutes so it’s best not to leave the important sections which could bring you secure points for the very end.
You might find it useful to also decide beforehand how you’ll act about the negative scoring – will you answer a question only if you’re 100% sure, will you guess the answer only if you’re in between two options, etc.
After you finish solving the questions, don’t relax just yet. Keep your sharp focus until a bit longer till you close the envelopes and insert them in the correct boxes. If you make a mistake there, you will be disqualified.
After you exit the room you take a deep breath cause it’s all over!
After the IMAT
A couple of hours after the end of the exam, the test will be published online together with the correct answers. While the experience is still fresh and you remember what you’ve answered, check your mistakes straight away. It’s best to face it even if you feel disappointed with your performance. This way you’ll have, if not an accurate score, at least a very close approximation. It will save you a whole lot of anxiety in the following weeks until the official results are out on October 1st.
As you probably know, on September 23rd, anonymous results will be published. They are released without stating your name, but you’re instead identified by a long code. This is the same code you stick to the test envelope before you put it in the correct box. Now, if you happen to remember it, you’ll know your score with certainty before October 1st. The code is indeed very long and you spend only a couple of seconds with it, but there’s a trick to remember it. The first two letters of it are an abbreviation of the test center. Don’t bother remembering that. Instead, remember only the last 4 digits. This will be enough to identify it later on.
But if attempting to remember the code costs you your full attention when placing the right envelope in the appropriate box, it’s certainly NOT worth the try!
Knowing your score early also allows for some planning ahead. If you know you scored high enough you can start looking for accommodation, prepare your enrollment documents, and so on.
After the exam, you RELAX and wait. I hope you’ve made spectacular vacation plans to keep you away from overthinking and allow yourself the well-deserved rest you’ve earned.
I wish you the best of luck on the exam or as the Italian saying goes, “In bocca al Lupo”!
Elena Mitsulova (Pavia)
I am a 5th-year student in the Harvey course of Pavia. During my Italian journey and all these years spent in Pavia, I've gathered a valuable experience that I am happy to share with you.
(c) Photo credit: pexels.com