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Italian word of the day: 'Maturità'

Elaine Allaby
Elaine Allaby - [email protected]
Italian word of the day: 'Maturità'
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This Italian word is a key rite of passage.


If you tuned into the Italian news this morning, you won't have been able to escape the many references to maturità.

Literally translating as 'maturity', the maturità - or to give it its full title, diploma di maturità - is Italy's state-administered high school leaving certificate.

Consisting of one oral and two written exams, it's the Italian equivalent of sitting your A-levels the UK or getting your high school diploma in the US.

A passing grade is 60/100; though the vast majority of students make this score, those who fail will have to re-take the test the following year.

Se non passo la maturità, i miei mi ammazzano.
If I don't pass my high school exams, my parents are going to kill me.

Non vedo l'ora che gli esami di maturità siano finiti.
I can't wait for our final exams to be over.

The first exam tests students' Italian language and critical thinking skills, the second their knowledge of their special subjects, and the third involves presentating and being grilled on what they've learned.

While there's nothing unusual about a state-run high school exam, the enthusiasm with which the process is reported on by national media can seem bizarre to those from outside the country.

News sites breathlessly relate the contents of the exam in real time as the questions are revealed, many via a liveblog.

A La Repubblica liveblog on June 19th, 2024 describes a Pirandello poem that appears in this year's first written exam.

Pundits are consulted for their take on the questions, social media reactions analysed, and the authors of this year's selected texts interviewed or profiled.


While this might seem like overkill, the intense focus on the exam reflects the importance placed on the maturità.

Passing the exam is seen as a key rite of passage in Italy, and according to surveys, your score can go on to influence future job opportunities years down the line.

Even decades later, newspapers will rake through the maturità scores of politicians to see what insights can be gleaned about their personalities and leadership styles.

If you're from a country where your high school grades are forgotten the moment you start university, then, you might feel you've escaped lightly.

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