Education system

The education system in Italy is divided into 5 stages: kindergarten (scuola dell’infanzia), primary school (scuola primaria or scuola elementare),  middle school (scuola media),  high school (scuola superiore) and university (università).

In the series of process for preparing for study in Italy, today we will cover the following main education stages in Italy:

  1. Scuola dell’infanzia: from 3 to 6 years old
  2. Scuola primaria or elementare: from 6-7 to 11 years old
  3. Scuola media: from 12 to 14 years old
  4. Scuola superirore: from 15-17 or 15-19 years old. 
  5. Università

Let’s briefly have a look at each stage together.

Education stages

Parents can register children from 3 up to 6 years of age to scuola dell’infanzia or asilo. Children of 7 years old are eligible to access scuola elementare.In some cases also children of 6 years old can access scuola elementare by  anticipating the exam to skip the first year at the scuola elementare. This program offers a basic education in foreign languages, natural sciences, history, geography, social study and physical education, and requires five years to complete.  After the scuola elementare, students enter directly to scuola media without entrance test. Once students complete their last year at the scuola media, they should be prepared to select a scuola superiore. Selecting scuola superiore is very important because it primarily impacts on the future career of a student after graduation. In Italy, scuola superiore is categorized based on its  field of studies or types of training (theoretical or practical). There are 2 types of scuola superiore, namely liceo and istituto. The liceo  is divided into different branchese with respects to its main teaching subjects:

  • liceo classico (classics high school)
  • liceo scientifico (scientific high school)
  • liceo linguistico (languages high school)
  • liceo delle scienze umane (human sciences high school)
  • liceo artistico (artistic high school)
  • liceo musicale e coreutico (music high school or dance academy)

For the istituto, it provides several vocation training with more practical hours dedicated to the subjects of study,

  • Istituto tecnico informatico (computer science technical institute)
  • Istituto tecnico meccanico (mechanics technical institute)
  • Istituto tecnico commerciale (accounting technical institute)
  • Istituto tecnico geometri (technical design technical institute)
  • Istituto tecnico elettronico (electrical technical institute)
  • Istituto tecnico electrico (electrical technical institute)
  • Istituto alberghiero (hospitality school)
  • Istituto agrario (agriculture institute)

Students complete their study at  liceo or istitutowith a final exam also called esame di maturità or esame di stato. This exam is usually organized in the period of June and July, and includes one test on Italian essay writing, one on a characterizing subject of the school, like maths for liceo scientific or latin for liceo classcico, and test with closed and open questions on multiple subjects, and finally an oral exam.

Students from istituto that passed this exam can work immediately or continue to the university. Instead students from liceo have to continue to university. The majority of universities in Italy are public and students enroll after passing an entrance selection test, that is usually organized between March and September of the last year in liceo or istituto.

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