The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is an alternative to the UCAT created by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing for a handful of medical, dental, biomedical, and veterinary degree programmes.
There are six UK medical schools that require the BMAT; Brighton and Sussex, Imperial, Lancaster, UCL, Cambridge and Oxford. Check your course page to see if it a requirement, as the BMAT is not just for medicine! Some international universities require you to take the test too. It is used to help distinguish pupils that meet their entry requirements for grades and UCAS scores. It is a hugely important part of your application, as it could be the difference between offer or rejection!
2023 is the final year of the BMAT – courses that usually require the BMAT will have different tests in place for 2024 entry. These will be finalised later this year, so keep checking your course website for updates. As the BMAT is being discontinued at the end of this year there is only one BMAT test left on 18th October. You must register between 1st-29th September, and if you’re applying for a modified paper (e.g. enlarged print) then this must be done before 15th September. The BMAT costs £78 if applying inside the UK/EU, and £104 outside. More information can be found here, and there are reimbursement / bursary schemes available.
Check with your school as to whether they are registered to hold the admissions test there, otherwise they can register, or you can find alternative venues. Just make sure you ask your school as they should be able to guide you with this.
BMAT Exam Format and Structure
The BMAT is a 2-hour written test, split into three sections.
- Thinking skills. This section has 32 multiple choice questions and is 60 minutes long. You will be tested on problem solving and critical thinking.
- Scientific knowledge and applications. This section has 27 multiple choice questions and is 30 minutes long. Questions will be based around applying content covered in GCSE Science and Maths.
- Writing task. This section is 30 minutes, and you will be required to write an essay answering one of three questions. As this section is only 30 minutes, you will be expected to write around 700 words.
There is no pass/fail or negative marking, so always worth putting something down particularly in the multiple-choice sections. No calculator is allowed in any section. For sections 1 and 2, make sure you don’t spend too long on each of the multiple-choice questions. Try to strike a balance between making sure you give the challenging questions a go, but don’t spend all your time on only a handful of questions. This will come with practice, and learning where your strengths and weaknesses are! There are section guides on the BMAT website, so I would definitely recommend that you read through these and familiarise yourself with it as much as possible.
BMAT Practice Test, Past Papers and Tips
There is a specification for the BMAT, which covers Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths, so it is vital that you look through this in advance and make sure that you are happy with the content. It can be useful to traffic light the specification, highlighting the concepts you have learnt in green, those that you understand but need learning in orange, and those that need revision in red. Then, look to your textbooks and online websites like Physics and Maths Tutor to help you with your revision and understanding. Go through the content and complete practice GCSE questions on this until you’re confident.
As the BMAT is unlike your GCSEs in terms of format, it is hugely important that you complete practice tests. Papers and mark schemes can also be found on the BMAT website. If you feel like you need more help, take a look online at well-reviewed resources – a quick google search should identify some textbooks and helpful websites.
Even though it is one more exam to prepare for, it would be unwise to apply for BMAT universities alone, so definitely look to apply to other universities that require the UCAT, as if you don’t get the grade you wanted in the BMAT you may find yourself more successful in the UCAT. This is not to say that the UCAT is easier than the BMAT, as they test different things in different ways. If you find yourself confident with the Maths and Science content at school and enjoy essay writing then you may find the BMAT more straight forward than the UCAT. If you would prefer computerised tests that challenge you to think about contextual scenarios then you may find the UCAT preferable. In short, don’t let the admissions test put you off applying to your chosen course, as you never know until you try!
Unlike the UCAT, you won't get your BMAT score before putting in applications. You can use the mock papers to help guide your applications decisions though, so it is definitely worth putting in the practice as early as you can. The sections are scored on a scale (similar to GCSE 9-1 and A level A-E); sections 1 and 2 are like GCSEs and scored 9-1, with 9 being high and 1 low. For section 3 you can either be awarded A (high), C or E, on the quality of your written English, and 5 (high) – 0 (low) on your content. Your grade for this part could be written as 2A, meaning a 2 in your content and an A in your written English. This section is marked by two examiners, and the average score is taken, so your final grade could be an A, B, C, D, or E alongside the number. E.g., an A from one examiner and a C from the other would result in a B overall.
Universities weight this test differently, so overall you need to aim as high as possible. For example, UCL and Oxford rank pupils mainly according to their BMAT score, while Cambridge takes into account your whole application. Most universities do not list their cut off score, but Oxford mentions that to reach interview applicants should be working towards a 6 in sections 1&2.