What is the IMAT?

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The IMAT is an admissions test in English for students applying to certain Italian medical schools. It’s developed by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (who also make the BMAT, or BioMedical Admissions Test) and the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. Let’s take a quick look at the IMAT and what this means for you if you’re applying to an Italian university for Medicine.

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What format does the IMAT take?

The IMAT is similar in structure to the more widely-used BMAT, although without an essay section. It’s divided as follows:

First, Section 1 covers Logical Reasoning and General Knowledge. This differs from the BMAT through the inclusion of ‘General Knowledge.’ You might wonder what ‘General Knowledge’ covers – you’ll find that there is indeed a very real spread of questions here, covering anything from economics through to classic films. Indeed, the most recent iteration of the test would require you to both know that the Fields Medal is awarded for Mathematics, and that Fellini directed Amarcord. However, given that the section tests ‘Generic skills in problem solving, understanding argument, data analysis and inference; general knowledge’ your focus should be on improving the first three domains – improving your general knowledge for the test is tricky, and should only be done in a specific manner – there are certain areas that are worth reading up on. Typically, the questions have either an overlap with the Sciences or with Italian culture.

Sections 2,3 and 4 are designed to test your Scientific Knowledge – just as the BMAT Section 2 is. You’ll need to answer 40 multiple choice questions across these topics. Per the IMAT, the knowledge is ‘school level’ and you will be expected to already know it – so it’s safe to assume that the content is similar to the BMAT, extending to GCSE level rather than A level for all subjects.

Candidates are typically given 100 minutes to complete the entire test of 60 questions (Roughly 20 in Section 1, 40 in Section 2, with 22 in Section 1 in the most recent iteration). Each question is multiple choice in format and has five options, with one being correct.

How is the Test Marked?

All correct answers are awarded 1.5 points. It’s vital to bear in mind that there is negative marking in this test. Any wrong answer is given a score of – 0.4 (in other words, 0.4 marks are subtracted). This ensures that students aren’t tempted into answering a question randomly if they don’t know the answer, as statistically you’d lose points.

All section scores are initially calculated separately, then combined together into one overall score. This score is then used in a ranking. However, if two students score the same, the student who scored higher in Section 1 – Logical Reasoning and General Knowledge – will be ranked higher. If the two students also scored the same in this section, then the student who scored higher in Biology is ranked first, then if it is still a tie, the same process is used with Chemistry, then Mathematics, then Physics. In the unlikely event that all scores are the same, then students with IELTS or similar English Language certification are ranked higher than students without.

In order to be eligible for entry to any university, you must have scored at least 20 points in the test as an EU candidate, or more than 0 as a non-EU candidate. Beyond this, universities will use the rankings as they see fit.

Be aware that the test format could be changed in the run-up to the assessment itself.

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Where Can I Find More Information about the IMAT and How to Prepare?

As it stands, your preparation ought to be similar to that for the BMT – without the need to practise writing essays as you would have to for BMAT Section 3. You can find more detail in our articles on how to prepare for the IMAT. You can also use the website of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) although we have ensured to take as much relevant information from the site as possible in this guide and others. Lastly, some information is available through the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing site; more will be made available in due course, so make sure to check back regularly.

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