Translated by Alanna Quintyne

In today’s article, I am going to talk about School-leaving Exams (gli “esami di maturità” in Italian), an important event for all the Italian students. It is important not only because it is a difficult test, but because it marks the passage from adolescence to adulthood.

If you are curious to know more about, please keep reading! :)

School-leaving exams are a milestone for all Italian students. Everyone regardless of the type of school they choose must prepare for them.

But what exactly are these exams?

High school final exams represent the crowning achievement of a five-year course of study, and are nothing more than a series of tests on the subjects and curricula that have been covered during the year.  Given the amount of information that needs to be studied and remembered, these exams frighten high school seniors in no small measure, that is, those who are about to take these exams in order to obtain the coveted high school diploma.

I am well aware that end-of-year examinations are the norm in many countries, and that in other nations all students and not only the final year high school students must take them, but the Italian school system is a bit different.

Typically, in the first four years of secondary school there are oral exams and written tests that take place as new topics are covered and as students progress with the program. A student’s passing or failure then depends on the average of the results obtained during these tests.

During the fifth and final year, written tests and oral exams also occur, but they are supplemented by the dreaded final exam.

How is this exam conducted?

This exam, until the arrival of the pandemic, was structured in a series of tests that varied according to the chosen course of study. The first day of the exam and the first test, however, was the same for everyone: the Italian essay.

The outline of the assignment even arrived the same morning directly from the Ministry of Education, so all students in Italy, from all institutes were tested on the same topics.

The other tests, on the other hand, varied depending on the course of study chosen. In schools where humanities subjects are studied, students had to deal with Latin or Greek versions. Where sciences are studied, the second test often concerned mathematics. In arts high schools, on the other hand, the task could be about design, and so on.

Today, however, with the pandemic, the exam has been reduced to a single test, but certainly, in the future it will resume its classical structure.

Obtaining the high school diploma and the grade associated with it depends on the results obtained during the year and, of course, the scores on the final exam.

School-leaving exams in the Collective Imagination

These exams, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, are a milestone for all Italian children. They cannot be considered only and exclusively as tests, however, because in the Collective Imagination they are much more: they mark the passage of Italian youth from adolescence to adulthood.

This exam is so ingrained that even in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, the minister of education strongly wanted students to take it in person, albeit in a simplified manner.

Given its importance, even music and cinema could not refrain from celebrating it with songs and films. One example of this is Antonello Venditti’s Notte prima degli esami, an iconic song that all high school seniors of every generation have listened to and continue to listen to before high school’s exam, thinking about this fateful day and imagining their future.

ila firma

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