Admission Success rates

[Update 2016 (by Erik, IMS-Milan): Over the last five years, the number of applicants to the English-language public medical schools in Italy has, on the whole, increased. Furthermore, more and more preparation materials have come out, and candidates have learned better how to master the IMAT. This was particularly true in 2015, when the exam was held in September, rather than the spring, as had hitherto been the case. The scheduling change gave 2015 candidates six extra months to study.

As a result of all these factors, the minimum score needed to get into some of the schools on the first round has increased. Most notable among them is Milan, whose minimum required score for first-round entry for EU candidates jumped approximately 10 points from 2014 to 2015, to 50.1. To get a sense of how much more competitive entry has become in the last half-decade: in 2011 in Pavia, the highest-ranked student scored 54 on the IMAT. Meanwhile in 2015, the highest-ranked EU student (who is now studying at Milan) had a score of 71.1.

So, roughly, among EU-based IMAT-takers, in 2015, about the top 2% scored high enough to enter Milan on the first round. For Pavia and Napoli Federico II, it was around the top 10%. For the other schools, it’s a little harder to tell, because of lack of statistical data. Rome-La Sapienza was probably more competitive than Pavia and Napoli F. II; Bari, Rome-Tor Vergata, and Napoli SUN were probably less competitive.

If you were non-EU, rather than EU, then for every school, you needed a lower IMAT score for first-round admission. To get a place in Milan, for example, you needed to score in about the top 15% of all test-takers. La Sapienza was slightly more competitive; Pavia, slightly less; and Bari, Tor Vergata, and Napoli SUN, much less. (Napoli F. II did not have any places for non-EU students.) In fact, for Bari, Tor Vergata, and Napoli SUN, you needed simply to get above the baseline score — about 20 points– to gain entry as non-EU. That means you only needed to be in about the top 50% of all applicants to get a place at one of these less-competitive schools.

It can therefore be said that your chances of admission vary considerably, based on which school you want to get into. A divergence between the more competitive-entry schools — Milan, La Sapienza, Pavia, and Napoli F. II — and the less competitive ones — Bari, Tor Vergata, and Napoli SUN — has grown, since these programs were founded. Note these facts, in themselves, do not necessarily imply (or fail to imply) anything about the quality of education at any school.

There is one important quirk to keep in mind. If you are an EU applicant, you have priority over some non-EU applicants in the rolling admissions process after the first round of rankings. So although it’s harder for an EU applicant to get into a competitive school, she or he may have a better chance than a non-EU at a less competitive school, even if that less competitive school is not listed as his or her first choice. In other words, a non-EU often has one shot at his or her first-choice school, whereas an EU candidate can get into any one of the six schools he or she listed. So: if you are EU, and really want to study in, say, Milan, but are unconfident that you’ll ace the IMAT, it may still make sense to put Milan as your first choice. If you don’t score high enough to get in, you may make it into one of your second through sixth choice schools, anyway. Conversely, if you are not EU, you may wish to be more careful and list a first-choice school which you are reasonably sure of getting into; if you don’t, you may not get into any of the six public schools.

Finally, when people ask me if they can succeed on the admissions test, I usually answer that the most important qualities they must have are:

  1. A strong academic knowledge in biology, physics, and chemistry, at the equivalent of US premed or British A-level
  2. Excellent reading ability in English
  3. Good logical analysis skills (verbal and quantitative)

The stronger you are in these three areas, the higher your IMAT score will be.]

“What are my odds of passing the admission test?” is a question that troubles a lot of future candidates, here we will address the problem in depth.

One’s odds of passing the admission test (IMAT) successfully are based on several factors:

  1. The number of reserved places
  2. The number of candidates
  3. The origin on the candidate (European/non-EU)

As we’ve seen already in other articles, the admission system in Pavia (and Italy in general) works as follows: all the candidates take the IMAT test and their votes with their names accordingly are listed in the ranks, those with the highest votes on the top of the rank. Then the top XX candidates from the rank are accepted.

An important detail is that there are two separated ranking lists, one is for the Italian + European candidates and the other is for non-European candidates. The number of reserved places is also different for EU and non-EU candidates, and the exact number can vary slightly between the years. Yet, also the number of candidates (competition) is not the same between EU/non-EU, and actually there are many more European candidates than non-EU candidates. So if you are a non-EU your chances are usually better. There is a little catch, and it is that in 2011 exam a new requirement was introduced – the candidate must pass a minimal 20 points threshold in order to get into the ranking list, but because the exam is in English, answering 20 questions out of 80 (1/4) should be more then possible.

The best indicator of your chances to pass the IMAT would be the IMAT exam itself. But how can you know your score before actually taking the test? The approximate score can be obtained if you try to solve last year’s exam, to have an idea how good your preparation is and what should you improve for the exam.

Here is some historical data


  • The European candidates that were accepted to Pavia had on average 42 points (minimum: ~37 maximum: ~54)
  • The non-EU candidates had on average 24 points (min: 20, max: 37)


  • EU: minimum ~35 points
  • Non-EU: minimum ~24 points


Overall I’d say that the chances of getting in are still good because the competition is not impossible, but it doesn’t mean that you can lean back and relax until the admission exams – because that would be the sure way to fail. Concentrate your forces on the preparation and make the most out of this opportunity.

Alex Ochakovski (Pavia)
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