The examination in Italian is this morning. 490,000 eighteen-year olds have six hours to: analyse and comment on a set text; or write a journalistic-style consideration of a given current topic; or write an essay on a historical given subject; or write an essay chosen on a general subject offered by the examiners [this last is for the truly desperate who can't form an opinion or summon any knowledge of the other questions, ed.]
Six hours. That demands clarity, understanding, organisation of material and of thought, relevance of reference and quotation, elegance of expression... Gosh.
The set text is Italo Calvino's "Il sentiero dei nidi di ragno" (1947) - not an easy work to assess considering Calvino's limpid simplicity in writing which is so sophisticated; offering a young boy's view of an adult world at (second world) war (and a boy in such circumstances) it is distant from any 2015 experience as well.
There are four topics offered for the journalistic piece: 'literature as life experience'; or 'the challenges of the 21st century and citizen's rights and needs in economic and social life'; or 'the Mediterranean geopolitical atlante of Europe'; or 'scientific and technological developments in electronic and information technology that have transformed communication'.
The historical essay asks for a reflection on the [Italian] Resistance.
A quote from Malala Yousafzai on the right to education provides the lead-in for the general essay.
Writing on 'literature as life experience' is easily the safest - and gives the best opportunity to use all those years of study. It might even be fun to write (and the examiners have attached verses from Inferno canto V, out of the kindness of their hearts).