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No More IMAT? Ending the Rumours About IMAT 2023

22/11/22 Update: We asked Marche university about IMAT 2023, here is their answer

IMAT EXAM CHANGES
IMAT EXAM CHANGES

IMAT 2023: Cambridge confirms changes starting from 24/5, and that the IMAT exam will be organized by a different body.

In the past year, there has been a lot of uncertainty about the future of the IMAT. Will it continue? Will it switch to another Cambridge exam such as BMAT? Will the Medicine and Surgery entrance exam be written by a completely different test maker? After much anticipation, the truth has finally come out, or at least half of it. 

 

As a content writer for the IMAT, I frequently have been going onto the Cambridge Admissions website to review past papers and work on writing worked solutions. In the first week of November, 2022, I noticed something unusual, as many others had. The IMAT section from Cambridge’s website seems to disappear. They had other exams listed but the test specifications and syllabus for the IMAT were gone, what happened? To get to the bottom of this, some students reached out to Cambridge to ask them directly what was going on. Surprisingly there was a mixed answer. The first email response said that it was normal it was missing as they only have the more recent exams listed, which seemed unlikely as the past papers could have always been found on the website. The second response though was where the truth came out. 

 

Here is a screenshot of the messages:

Cambridge came out and directly said that they will no longer be writing the IMAT, instead the ministry of education will be taking responsibility to either outsource it to another test writing centre, or it will be directly written by the Italian ministry of education, similar to the Italian medicine exam, Test Medicina. 

What are the consequences of not having Cambridge as the exam writers of IMAT 2023?

Have no fear, for those who already have started studying or are trying again to enter the Medicine and Surgery programs here in Italy, Cambridge confirmed that the IMAT will still run in 2023, however, Cambridge will no longer be the writers. The general content and structure of the exam should be similar, with the exception of some minor changes. What could these changes be? It depends on who will write the future exam. If the Italian education ministry writes the exam, then the questions, although similar, may analogues more the test Medicina (Italian Medicine and Surgery program) questions. If there is an outside agency that writes the test, then it will likely keep the same difficulty and content, while taking on the style of the new test writers. 

Comparing the IMAT with the Italian Entrance Exam (and TOLC)

If we compare the exams themselves (English and Italian entrance exams), they are extremely similar, particularly in the sciences. The main difference is in logic and reasoning general knowledge. The Italian general knowledge section has a greater focus on Italian history and organization, as stated here: 

“Questions relating to knowledge of general culture on topics addressed in the course of studies or present in contemporary public discourse complete this assessment area.

For the historical field, the questions may concern, among other things, aspects characterising the history of the 20th century and the current world.

For the social and institutional sphere, m consistent with the national indications and guidelines and in relation to the activities carried out for “Citizenship and Citizenship Costs”, the questions may concern, among other things, the Constitutional Charter, communication and the mass media, the organisation of the economy and political life; the different forms of state and government.”

From Italian Medicine Entrance Exam Syllabus 2022, translated

Logical reasoning is where we may also see a bit of change. Where Cambridge provides us with several different types of questions and examples (ex. Drawing Conclusions, Parallel Reasoning – for more see the article on the breakdown of Logical Reasoning questions), the Italian syllabus is a bit vaguer: 

“Assessment of the ability to use the Italian language correctly in different contexts and to logically complete an argument, in a manner consistent with the premises, which are stated in symbolic or verbal form by means of multiple-choice questions, also formulated with short propositions, discarding erroneous, arbitrary or less probable conclusions.

The questions are based on non-fiction, scientific or narrative texts by classic or contemporary authors, or on topical texts published in newspapers or general or specialist magazines; they are also based on cases or problems, even of an abstract nature, the solution to which requires the adoption of various forms of logical reasoning.”

From Italian Medicine Entrance Exam Syllabus 2022, translated

 

Clearly, the IMAT logic and reasoning will not assess you on ‘the ability to use the Italian language correctly…”, however you may note that the rest of the text gives us a bit of a different explanation of questions than Cambridge did. This may cause some differences in the question types or frequencies of certain question types, however, it is difficult to speculate. More information is to come soon. 

Changes in the Italian Medicine Exam and What it Could Mean for the Future of IMAT

Although we just ran through the syllabus of the 2022 Italian Medicine test and compared it to what is familiar to us, the IMAT syllabus, there is a big change expected to happen this year for the Italian Medicine test. These are the confirmed details (please remember these changes apply for the Italian exam, not the IMAT)

From 2023, the exam will be written twice a year, in 2023 it will be in April and July (dates to be released no later than November 30th, 2023). It will also be possible to take the exam before passing the ‘esami di maturità, which is the Italian High school graduation test (this is a change from before when you had to pass this exam first before sitting the Medicine entrance exam). From now on, you can sit the test from your 4th year of high school (so if my 4th year of high school is in 2023, I will attend medical school in 2025). Another positive change is that some online resources will be made available to prepare for the exam, they are likely to be provided by the Universities themselves (not confirmed). Public resources however are accessible to everyone so how useful they are is unknown. 

Change in the Exam Format of The Italian Test – Will the IMAT Be the same?

Scoring: the new scoring will be 1 point if correct, 0 if blank, and -0.25 if wrong. The test will be composed of 50 questions in 90 minutes (instead of 60 questions). There will be a type of general knowledge 7 questions in 15 minutes, biology (15 in 25 minutes), chemistry and physics (15 in 25 minutes), maths and logical reasoning ( 13 in 25 minutes).

It is thought that general knowledge will no longer be as random, but more focused on what is studied in Italian high schools (history, philosophy, etc). 

The exam will be in-person but with a computer, this explains the time limit per section. The question sections must be solved in order, so first general knowledge, then biology, chemistry and physics, and finally math and logical reasoning. 

The score will be presented immediately, however, the official results won’t be published until 15 days later. Why? The score presented and real results will be different, there will be a multifactorial decision-making process on how to score and rank candidates who took the exam on the same day, and also on different days. With two test dates, they must find a fair way to rank all candidates. The first year is likely to be a mess. 

Final Thoughts on Consequences for IMAT 2023

With such a new and experimental approach to the exam this year, we cannot know what to expect. The IMAT generally follows the format of the Italian exam, and it makes sense that they remain similar in order to keep a standard across both programs. Medicine and Surgery programs must be held to high standards and similar across any language or country for that matter, so it would not be surprising to see these radical changes in the IMAT as well. In terms of when the information can be expected, the current best guess is that the information will be released sometime in April but if they adopt the new format of the Italian course it could be even sooner. There is uncertainty however, the Israeli embassy said April, so it could indicate a slower transition to the new format or a different format altogether. There is so much information circulating and conflicting reports, embassies can be out of the loop and unreliable, so be sure to check back towards the end of December to see if the Italian decree has any relevant IMAT information.

How Can You Prepare For Change?

Start early! Especially with the uncertainty of when the exam will be written, it could be moved earlier in the year forcing you to miss out on the normal valuable preparation time. We recommend you start now. The future Italian has changed schedules and is now allowed to be written up to twice a year (April and July). Preparing early will also give you the chance to be ready in April should there be anything, this provides a huge benefit as many may not have known about this and all the confusion could act in your favour if you show up ready for anything on test day. Worst-case scenario you will have experience writing the new format which is invaluable. I was much calmer the second time I wrote the IMAT because I eliminated the simple stress of the unknown. I knew how to fill out all my personal info, knew where I could write and where I couldn’t, and also what the environment was like. 

Why is the EnterMedSchool happy about the changes in the IMAT?

A change in writer often comes with much-needed reform. The exam had been criticised in the past for its poor distribution of questions across the different subjects, giving candidates with greater general knowledge an advantage over those who studied more for the exam focusing on sciences (as it is extremely difficult to effectively study for general knowledge). Besides question arrangement, it could also enable students to write the exam more times in a year, similar to the new changes Italian exam.

Possible Change in Time

Changing when the IMAT is written could be a huge benefit to students. Time and time again I have seen students from countries with difficult embassies struggle to get VISAs. They have to wait so long to get a VISA they risk losing their spot. Some embassies wait until you have the final acceptance letter from the University (which isn’t always provided) and this is only given out mere days before classes start. Attendance is also often mandatory, so missing 1-2 months could heavily delay your career and make you ineligible for Winter exams. An exam earlier in the year could allow you to apply for your VISA and make it on time. 

Toxic Relationship with Cambridge in the Past

Entermedschool has been a community where students have been able to share their opinions and voice their concerns on the IMAT, bringing critical issues to light. In the past, there have been multiple complaints and calls to action based on how the IMAT was run. There were huge problems with test center shortages and cancellations. In 2020, many places such as Pakistan and Turkey actually overbooked their test centres. They took the payment and confirmed that the candidates would have a spot to write, only to cancel days later. And although a refund was obviously given, that set new challenges for those unlucky candidates. it meant that they had lost a few precious days and test centres around had filled out, many had to even fly to other countries just to be able to write the exam. This added expenses of hundreds of dollars and unneeded stress to those applicants, putting them at a clear disadvantage. Instead of learning from their mistakes and increasing the number of seats to write in high-demand countries, a similar issue has occurred where many are forced to go abroad to write the exam. You would think that this is bad enough, however, there were also reports of cheating at certain test centres. There were reports of test officials not taking the exam seriously and giving out either clues or neglecting students cheating infront of them. There needs to be a standard held across the world for this exam, and the organizers of the test need to do better to ensure an even playing field. Even Italian test centres were flawed. They had hundreds of candidates and some Universities made students wait at least 2 hours before even sitting down to write. In the end, it was another few hours to wait as every student is called up and filled out the proper forms. Comparing this to the test centre where I wrote it, in Toronto, I woke up at 7:30 am, walked to the test centre for 8:00 am, and even candidates showing up at 8:30 am were permitted to write at the 9:00 am start time (local). The benefit of this was reduced stress and more focus on what was to come. 

The point of pointing out Cambridge’s flaws surrounding the IMAT is not to attack Cambridge itself, they are a reputable University and its standardized testing is one of the best in the world. They are not responsible for these mistakes and it is more a matter of the Universitaly system itself (when booking the exam) and problems with the individual test centers. The point of this call out is in hopes to drive future improvement, which change comes opportunity for improvement. A change in company could cause the whole system to be reworked to accommodate the new format.

Impacts on Entermedschool (EMS) courses and Material

The article I wrote was from my perspective as a student, I wanted to give you my honest opinion and as a student who studied rigorously for the IMAT for 2 years and has been working on providing resources and content for future students since, I know how difficult it can be to adjust to changes like this, especially if you already started preparing. The good news is that the entermedschool team is committed to providing the best and more tailored medical school resources available. We were never worried, the goal was never to make a course with no application outside this one narrow exam, the goal was to make a course so encompassing and versatile, it should prepare you to be able to write the IMAT, BMAT, or any other similar level medical school entrance exam. EMS also plans to add analysis and translations of past test di medicina papers this year on the website, to prepare you incase of an IMAT designed by the ministry of education.

After studying for the IMAT and following along the first basic EMS planner, I not only was ready for the IMAT but also first year medical school. I went into my chemistry exam without even studying and scored highly just from previous knowledge from IMAT studying. I can only imagine what the impact of the course would be now that it is so much more. To summarize, do not worry about the change, those enrolled in the course or those thinking about enrolling, start early, study the same course material and if there are changes the content will be made and added. There is going to be fresh new content, whether videos or worked solutions or anything else you can think of relevant to IMAT added, so do not worry, we will adapt to anything the new IMAT format has in store for us. 

Good luck and study hard!

Cole

Team Member and Tutor on EnterMedSchool

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