At the end of the upper secondary school cycle, students study for the upper secondary school diploma (diploma di maturita'), which automatically qualifies them for enrolment at a university. The exam consists of three written exams (esame) plus an oral test (colloquio). The first exam involves writing an essay or newspaper article in Italian on a historical, social, scientific or literary subject. The second is a test of one subject from a number of options relating to a student's specialisation; the subject of the exam is given to students two months in advance. The third exam, which was introduced in 1999, is an inter-disciplinary exam that includes questions on cultural and social issues and tests the knowledge of a foreign language.
The oral test follows the written exams and is conducted by a board of six teachers, who question students on all the subjects they've studied in their final year. Out of a possible total of 100 marks, a maximum of 45 is awarded for the written exams, 35 for the oral and 20 for scholastic credits, which are earned from students' school reports during their last three years of study. To pass the maturita', a minimum of 60 marks are necessary.
The full title of the diploma depends on the kind of school students have attended, e.g. diploma di maturita' classica for students who have attended a classics school and a diploma di maturita' scientifica for students who have attended a science school. Diplomas gained at technical school are further qualified by the specialisation students have followed. The maturita' is recognised throughout the world as a university entrance qualification, although it isn't accepted by all institutions.
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