It used to be said of the French Education Minster that he could say what French pupils were studying at any given moment such was the uniformity of the system and the national syllabus. The same could also be said of Italy’s secondary school esame di Stato which begins nationwide this morning, with almost half a million students answering exactly the same exam questions at exactly the same time. With Italian language and literature common to all schools, the final year students – mostly 19 year olds – will be given the same essay subjects, regardless of type of school or specialist subjects.
As always there is much speculation about essay subjects which usually range from current affairs, to youth issues, to Italian literature. For the first time, exam papers will be sent to schools via the internet, rather than the in the traditional sealed envelopes delivered by carabinieri.
Exams may also be synonymous with warmer weather although never more so than this year as temperatures in most of Italy reach a record high, and forecast as reaching 39 or even 40° in some areas. With most schools not exactly renowned for air conditioning, this could make the prima prova even tougher and more gruelling for candidates.
Exams continue tomorrow with the specialist subject and the terza prova, comprising four subjects, on Monday. The only final year students exempt from the written tests are those in areas hardest hit by the recent earthquakes – in the provinces of Modena and Ferrara where suitable facilities are lacking and fears for security persist as earth tremors continue.