At American schools in Italy, a student must be six by the end of the calendar year to enter grade one. School years are divided as follows:
The elementary program follows a basic American curriculum with an emphasis on the language arts and mathematics and general concepts in social studies and science. The secondary program offers college preparatory courses at the basic or honours level. The honours level, for more capable students, has a variety of advanced placement (AP) courses with college level work and exams and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Students wishing to enter competitive universities in the United States must not only do well in the high school courses, but must also score well on the standardized tests used for university admissions. The Standard Aptitude Test (SAT), a test of verbal and mathematical ability, and the Achievement Tests, individual tests of specific subject knowledge, are the two most common series of tests.
A student must be five by September 1 to enter Year One. The lower school program follows a basic British curriculum with an emphasis on the language arts, mathematics and general concepts in history, geography and science. The last four years of the 13-year program provide a college preparatory education fulfilling university requirements worldwide.
Years 10 & 11 follow a two-year program of eight GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) courses. Public exams from the U.K. are taken at the end of this period. GCSE marks involve not only the final exams but also student work and projects throughout the two years.
Years 12 & 13 follow a two-year program of normally three courses which are studied in depth.
Public exams are taken at the end of the "A" or "Advanced" level courses. Universities in the U.K. require a minimum of 2 "A" levels and 5 GCSEs for admission, but a top university requires 3 "A" levels and 8 or more GCSEs with high pass marks.
Under this program, the school goes on to pre-university years 12 & 13, involving both a broad range of studies and an in-depth concentration in a few subjects.
Subjects are divided into six main areas: main academic language; another modern language; social sciences; experimental sciences; mathematics; and fine arts, computing, classical language, third modern language, second social science, or second experimental science. Students are expected to select one subject from each area, choosing three to study at the "subsidiary" level and three to study at the "higher" level. In addition, they must take a course on the theory of knowledge, write an extended essay, and participate in some community work. The diploma is awarded to those students who satisfactorily fulfil all these requirements, although certificates are awarded in the individual subjects. The IB diploma is recognized by over 600 universities around the world.