The Grading System in Italian Universities

Universities in Italy have chosen a rather interesting and unusual grading system. While most countries opt for a percentage based grading system, or a letter based system (A – F), or even a system that gives a mark out of 10, Italy has quite a unique number.

Grades in Italy are awarded out of 30. Yes, when you receive your final grade for a subject its a number out of 30. While its still not an incredibly awkward number to convert into a percentage grade, the system is surprisingly simple to get used to.

To receive a passing grade in an exam you must get a minimum of 18 out of 30. While a 30 out of 30 is a perfect score, its not the highest attainable grade. Its actually possible to score above 30. “Lode” in Italian translates to ‘praises’, and is awarded by professors to students who have shown remarkable preparation, and have exceeded expectations. Lode while rare, are not impossibly difficult to obtain.

Depending on which country you choose to go to when you graduate, the grading system can make or break a potential doctor. In most countries your grades through out medschool will not matter as you will need to sit a standardised test to be able to practice in that country, with your result placing you into a hospital. However if you choose to remain in Italy having good grades can be quite important.

Grades you receive throughout medical school can determine your chances of doing a more desirable specialisation, that is harder to get into (since every naive student dreaming of medicine wants cardio/brain surgery). Every subject from every year will be calculated in a special way (weighted average with CFUs) to give you an overall graduating average, which will determine your chances of your desired specialisation if you choose to stay in Italy.

However getting good grades in Italy isnt particularly difficult which is reflected by the ECTS (European credit transfer system) equivalent of the grades. I still do believe that the ECTS equivalent is very unfair but not very far off. While I think its ridiculous that a 27 is only equivalent to a D by the European standard, a ’30 e lode’ being the equivalent of an A seems quite fair. The table at the bottom of the article will give you a summary of all equivalents.

Other things your grades can effect are the scholarships that you can receive regionally or from the university. While the number they chose for the grading system is quite unusual, I assure you will get used to it quite quickly, and with the right amount of work put in beat it completely.