IMAT topics list

Last updated on 24.01.2021

Section 1: General Knowledge and Logical Reasoning (Critical Thinking and Problem Solving)

Section 1 will assess general knowledge and the thinking skills that students must possess in order to succeed in a course of study at the highest level. Such skills are basic to any academic studies, which often require students to solve novel problems or consider arguments put forward to justify a conclusion or to promote or defend a particular point of view.

General Knowledge 

General Knowledge questions may address a range of cultural topics, including aspects of literary, historical, philosophical, social, and political culture. These questions are not based on any specific part of school curricula; rather their aim is to test the candidates’ interest and knowledge in a wide variety of fields. Candidates with a keen extra-curricular interest in current events who regularly keep up to date with national and international news will be better prepared to answer this type of question. The official 2020 decree gives the following examples:

  • Issues addressed during the studies or present in contemporary public discourse.
  • Twentieth-century and the current world history
  • National indications and guidelines for “Citizenship and Constitution” (constitutional charter, communication, and the mass media, organization of the economy and political life, the different forms of state and government)


Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Relevant Selection – Very often a real-world problem will be overloaded with information, much of which
is unimportant. This kind of question demands Relevant Selection, in which the task
is to select only that information that is necessary and helpful in finding a solution.
Finding Procedures – Sometimes you will find that even if you have selected all the relevant information, no
solution presents itself. For this type of question, you have to find a method or
procedure which you can use to generate a solution.
Identifying Similarity – In this type of question you will be presented with information and asked to
identify the same information presented in a different way or a situation in which
different information has a similar structure.

  • Summarising the Main Conclusion
  • Drawing a Conclusion
  • Identifying an Assumption
  • Assessing the Impact of Additional Evidence
  • Detecting Reasoning Errors

To prepare for this section, you might find the book “thinking skills” to be very usefull – see the recomended books list



Section 2: Biology

The chemistry of living things

The biological importance of weak interactions. Organic molecules in living organisms and their respective functions. The role of enzymes.

The cell as the basis of life

Cell theory. Cell size. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, animal and plant cells. Viruses. The structure and function of the cell membrane and transport across the membrane. Cellular structures and their specific functions. Cell cycle and cell division: mitosis and meiosis – chromosomes and chromosome maps.


The energy currency of cells: ATP. Redox reactions in living things. Photosynthesis, glycolysis, aerobic respiration, and fermentation.

Reproduction and Inheritance

Life cycles. Sexual and asexual reproduction. Mendelian genetics: Mendel’s laws and their applications. Classical genetics: chromosomal theory of inheritance – inheritance patterns. Molecular genetics: structure and replication of DNA, the genetic code, protein synthesis. Prokaryotic DNA. Eukaryotic chromosome structure. Genes and regulation of gene expression. Human genetics: mono- and multifactorial character transmission; hereditary diseases – autosomal and linked to chromosome X. Biotechnology: recombinant DNA technology and its applications.

Inheritance and environment

Mutations. Natural and artificial selection. Evolutionary theories. The genetic basis of evolution. Anatomy and physiology of animals and humans The animal tissues.

Anatomy and Physiology of animals and humans
Animal tissues. Anatomy of the major organs and their functions and interactions in Humans. Homeostasis.



Section 3: Chemistry

The composition of matter

States of matter; heterogeneous and homogeneous systems; compounds and elements. Ideal Gas Laws.

Atomic structure

Elementary particles; atomic number and mass number, isotopes, electronic structure of atoms of different elements.

The periodic table of the elements

Groups and periods; transition elements. Periodic properties of elements: atomic radius, ionization potential, electron affinity, metallic character. The relationships between electronic structure, position in the periodic table, and element properties.

The chemical bond

Ionic, covalent, and metallic bonds. Binding energy. The polarity of bonds. Electronegativity. Intermolecular bonds.

Fundamentals of inorganic chemistry

Nomenclature and main properties of inorganic compounds: oxides, hydroxides, acids, salts.

Chemical reactions and stoichiometry

Atomic and molecular mass, Avogadro’s number, mole concept and its application, elementary stoichiometric calculations, balancing simple reactions, different types of a chemical reaction.


Solvent properties of water, solubility, the main ways of expressing the concentration of solutions. Equilibria in an aqueous solution. Chemical kinetics and catalysis.

Oxidation and reduction

Oxidation number, the concept of oxidizing and reducing. Balancing of simple reactions. Acids and bases The concept of acid and base. Acidity, neutrality, and basicity of aqueous solutions. The pH scale. Hydrolysis. Buffer solutions.

Fundamentals of organic chemistry

Bonds between carbon atoms, and crude formulas of structure, the concept of isomerism. Aliphatic, alicyclic, and aromatic hydrocarbons. Functional groups: alcohols, ethers, amines, aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, esters, amides. Chemical nomenclature.




Section 4: Physics & Mathematics



Direct and indirect measures, fundamental and derived quantities, physical dimensions of quantities, knowledge of the metric system and the CGS System of Units, Technical (or practical) (ST) and International System (SI) units of measurement (names and relationships between fundamental and derived units), multiples and sub-multiples (names and values).


Kinematic quantities, various types of motion with particular regard to uniform and uniformly accelerating rectilinear motion; uniform circular motion; harmonic motion (for all motions: definition and relationships between quantities).


Vectors and vector operations. Forces, moments of forces about a point. Moment of a force couple. Vector composition of forces. Definition of mass and weight. Acceleration due to gravity. Density and specific gravity. The law of universal gravitation, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd laws of motion. Work, kinetic energy, potential energy. Principle of conservation of energy. Impulse and momentum. Principle of conservation of momentum.

Fluid mechanics

Pressure, and it’s unit of measure (not only in the SI system). Archimedes’ Principle. Pascal’s principle. Stevino’s law.


Thermometry and calorimetry. Thermal capacity and specific heat capacity. Modes of heat propagation. Changes of state and latent heat. Ideal Gas Laws. First and second laws of thermodynamics.

Electrostatic and electrodynamics

Coulomb’s law. Electric field and potential. Dielectric constant. Capacitors. Capacitors in series and in parallel. Direct current. Ohm’s Law. Kirchhoff’s Principles. Electrical resistance and resistivity, electrical resistances in series and in parallel. Work, Power, Joule effect. Generators. Electromagnetic induction and alternating currents. Effects of electrical currents (thermal, chemical, and magnetic)



Algebra and numerical sets

Natural numbers, integers, rational and real numbers. Sorting and comparison: scales and scientific notation. Operations and their properties. Proportions and percentages. Powers with integer and rational exponents, and their properties. Roots and their properties. Logarithms (base 10 and base e) and their properties. Elements of combinatorics. Algebraic and polynomial expressions. Major products and nth power of binomial expansions, factorization of polynomials. Algebraic fractions. Algebraic equations and inequalities of the first and second order. Systems of equations.


Basic concepts of functions and their graphical representations (domain, codomain, sign, continuity, maxima, and minima, increasing and decreasing, etc.). Elementary functions: whole and fractional algebraic functions; exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions. Composite and inverse functions. Trigonometric equations and inequalities.


Polygons and their properties. Circle and circumference. Measurements of lengths, surfaces, and volumes. Isometries, similarities, and equivalences in the plane. Geometric loci. Measurement of angles in degrees and radians. Sine, cosine, the tangent of an angle and their significant values. Trigonometric formulas. Solving triangles. Cartesian reference system in a plane. Distance between two points and the midpoint of a segment. Straight line equation. Conditions for parallel and perpendicular lines. The distance of a point to a line. Equation of the circle, the parabola, the hyperbola, the ellipse, and their representation in the Cartesian plane. Pythagoras’ theorem. Euclid’s first and second theorems.

Probability and statistics

Frequency distributions and their graphical representations. Concept of random experiments and events. Probability and frequency.





To have some tips on how to prepare for this test read here.

To check out the source in detail, you can read the official announcement in English and the 2020 decree in Italian.


Alex Ochakovski (Pavia)
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