Italy: Diploma di Esame di Stato conclusivo dei corsi di istruzione secondaria superiore

Last updated
Last verified

Updated July 2016

  • Italy
Education context

Diploma di Esame di Stato is the upper secondary school leaving certificate (formerly known as Diploma di Maturità).

Students obtaining the Diploma from either licei or technical and vocational istituti satisfy the minimum requirements to access HE.

The central government determines basic curricula for each type of licei/istituti and gives guidance on teaching methods.


Core subjects common to all institutions are Italian, history, a modern foreign language, mathematics and physical education.

Optional subjects depend on the type of secondary school, e.g. classical, languages, scientific, technical, professional, teaching, and artistic.

Optional teaching cannot exceed 30% of the total teaching timetable in the second two-year period and 20% of the total amount of the final year.

Subject areas

Core subjects common to all institutions are:

  • Italian
  • history
  • modern foreign language
  • mathematics
  • physical education

Optional subjects depend on the type of secondary school, e.g. classical, languages, scientific, technical, professional, teaching, and artistic. For example, in Liceo Artistico, students follow Italian language and literature, foreign language and culture, history and geography, history, philosophy, mathematics, physics, natural sciences, chemistry of materials, history of arts, drawing and graphics, geometry, sculpture and plastics, arts, sports, Catholic religion or alternative activities.


Considered to be broadly comparable in standard to UK Level 3 qualifications. Acceptable as a group qualification satisfying general HE entrance requirements.


The final mark of the Diploma comes from the sum of the average marks achieved by each student in the last three years of upper secondary school and the marks achieved in the three exams.

  • 100 (maximum) ... 60 (minimum pass).

For students who reach 100 points without any bonus, the commission can add the lode (cum laude) praise.


Final year examinations are organised by the Ministry of Education University and Research (Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca), and consist of three written tests and an oral one covering all subjects.

The first written test aims at verifying the mastery of the Italian language or of the language of teaching, as well as expressive, logical-linguistic and critical abilities of the candidate.

The second test is about one of the subjects chosen by the examiner.

The third test reflects teaching and organisation autonomy of the school and is strictly related to school offer. This latter is a multidisciplinary test about the subjects of the last grade. It consists of open ended and multiple choice questions and the solution of problems or practical and professional cases as well as in the development of projects. It may also test knowledge of a foreign language.

The texts for the first and second written tests are selected by the Minister and sent to the schools by the Ministry of Education; the text of the third written test is developed by the examination board.

The oral test has a multidisciplinary approach and is about the study programmes of the last school grade.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

The score is calculated by adding up:

  • Credits – up to 25 points from internal school marks, the top score for students who receive average grades during their final three years of school is 8 –10:
  • Written tests – the overall pass mark is 30 out of 45 points. The candidate sits three written tests. For each test the pass mark is 10 points, the top mark is 15 points.
  • Oral examination – the pass mark is 20 out of 30 points.

Bonus – an extra 5 points can be awarded to the candidate’s final score by the examining commission. In order to get the extra 5 points, the (A) score must be at least 15 points, and the (B) + (C) score must be at least 70 points. (A) + (B) + (C) + (D) = final score.

Guided/notional learning hours notes

In their third and fourth years students get a minimum annual taught time of 792 hours a year. In the fifth grade this increases to 891 hours a year.

Whilst the course is taken over three years, the resulting Diploma qualification is regarded as comparable in size to three A levels (size band 4) for UK HE admissions purposes.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

Some universities or colleges may wish to set subject requirements (based on results of written tests) in addition to an overall Diploma result.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

Tests take place according to a calendar established by the Ministry each year.  Results are usually published in mid-July.

Qualification dates notes

Diploma di Esame di Stato has been available since 1999 (100 marks = maximum score).

Previously students took the Diploma di Maturità (60 marks = max score).

Reporting and certification information

Information on distribution of qualification results / percentage scores will be added when this is available.

Progression information/access to HE within home country

In Italy, all students who have obtained an upper secondary school leaving diploma are entitled to access university. However, in some faculties, such as architecture or medicine, there are restrictions on admissions and it is necessary to pass an admissions test.

Further information