The BMAT is an entrance exam used by some medical schools as an alternative to the UKCAT.
There is some similarity between the two, but on the whole the BMAT is a more difficult exam, using more genuine academic knowledge and problem solving skill compared to the UKCAT and is probably a better indicator for scientific aptitude. Rest assured though, the BMAT is not insurmountable. As ever there are tricks and tips to maximise your score.
Because of the date of the exam and the early submission requirement on UCAS, unlike with the UKCAT, you won’t know your BMAT score prior to applying for a medical school.
This means that if you suddenly do terribly on the day (it happens to the best of us), that score will hang over your application to your detriment.
To minimise this risk, and given the BMAT is harder than the UKCAT, I’d recommend not making more than two of your four choices BMAT schools. That way in the worst case scenario your other two schools will be unaffected by your choice.
Now for how the BMAT is scored.
The exam consists of three sections; Section 1 (a multiple choice problem solving paper), Section 2 (a multiple choice scientific questions paper) and Section 3 (an essay paper).
For sections 1 and 2, you receive a score from 1 to 9, with one decimal place, 9 being the highest.
For section 3 you receive a number, 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest, and a letter grade. For the essay, the number related to your quality of argument whilst your letter refers to your quality of language (SPAG basically).
An example score therefore would be 6.5,7.2,4A. If you’re aiming for Oxbridge, you’re looking at aiming for 7s and a 5A, and anywhere else would be looking for comfortable 5s and 6s with a 4A.
Section 1: is probably the most entertaining section.
If you did the UKCAT in 2017 whilst they were trialling the new Decision Making section, those are the kind of questions you’re looking at for this section. On top of that, you have some clever argument analysis questions and logical reasoning questions.
There is a huge variety, so my best piece of advice would be to go over all of the past papers, all of which are on the Cambridge Assessment website. Familiarising yourself with the questions will show you what kinds of thought processes they’re looking for.
Section 2: is the science section that ostensibly only assesses your scientific knowledge to GCSE level.
This is mostly a lie. The questions go far beyond the curriculum of any GCSE syllabus. The knowledge tends to go beyond GCSE because the syllabus covers many exam boards.
The questions cover Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics to around AS level. Most medical students take Biology and Chemistry to A2, so odds are you’re unlikely to see anything new during the exam (except maybe revise your ecology), but you’ll need to make sure your physics knowledge is up to scratch. Electricity and Forces often come up, as do AS topics like Potential Dividers.
Don’t let the claim of GCSE level fool you, it’s a comprehensive test of sciences. Revise on the GCSE syllabus of different exam boards, that way you’re covered for something that might not have been on your course.
Section 3: might actually be the easiest section depending on who you ask.
The essay is unusual in that it’s limited by space. You can only fill about 80% of an A4 sheet. Crucially, it’s straightforward to nab a minimum of a 3A.
You can get a 3 simply by making sure you address every part of the question i.e. don’t just waffle on about one half and ignore the other. Getting an A is also easy, since most of you probably got As and A*s in GCSE English. Use proper grammar and don’t use words you can’t spell.
As for getting a higher score than a 3, think of unique and novel perspectives and practice your timings. Also, learning to write small but legibly will be a boon.
The BMAT is a tough test!
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