The BMAT Basics

Read through our complete guide to the BMAT for essential information on each section of the test. Learn how the scoring works and how you can prepare for the BMAT.

Author: Rob Needleman

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The BMAT will be sat on the 18th October 2022 rather than the usual first week of November. The test has also changed to pen and paper.

The BMAT is an Admissions Test used by 8 UK Medical Schools as an alternative to the UCAT.

There is some similarity between the two tests, but on the whole, the BMAT uses more genuine academic knowledge and problem-solving skill compared to the UCAT. Rest assured though, the BMAT is not insurmountable. As ever, there are tricks and tips to maximise your score. 

In this guide, we take you through the basics of the BMAT, such as the different sections and scoring. Read on to improve your understanding of the tricky test.

What is the BMAT?

The BMAT, or the Biomedical Admissions Test, is an entrance exam that many universities require as part of their admissions process for Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, and Dentistry courses. It is a notoriously tough paper that is used to help distinguish between medical applicants, who often all have excellent academic results and Personal Statements.

When is the Test? 

In 2022, the BMAT will be sat on 18th October. In line with this, there are different dates to be aware of which you can read about here. Registration opens on the 1st of September and closes on the 30th of September.

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What is the format of the BMAT?

The BMAT is a two-hour exam comprised of three main sections:

Section 1 Thinking Skills:

32 questions | 60 minutes

The first section of the BMAT consists of multiple-choice questions testing students’ problem-solving and critical thinking. Problem-solving is included to allow candidates to demonstrate that they can navigate novel problems encountered in academic and professional work. Critical thinking is used to show if applicants can explore an argument put forward, and defend or undermine a view. 

Students have approximately 110 seconds per question; this may sound like a lot but given that you’re often required to read and analyse passages or graphs, it can often not be enough. Nevertheless, this section is not as time-pressured as Section 2 so most students usually finish the majority of questions in time.

Section 1 Preparation

In this section, you have some argument analysis questions and logical reasoning questions to answer. There is a huge variety, so our 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 examiners are looking for. This can be a really tough section to prepare for. To ensure you’re ready for this tricky section, we recommend our BMAT support where you’ll get over 95 hours of study and one-to-one sessions with BMAT experts (who scored in the top 10% nationally in the BMAT).

Section 2 Scientific Knowledge:

27 questions | 30 minutes

The second section of the BMAT also consists of multiple-choice questions. Unlike Section 1, Section 2 is primarily knowledge-based rather than skilled-based. Students are tested on their scientific knowledge and mathematical ability in a time-pressured 30 minutes. The syllabus will broadly correspond to that covered in GCSE/IGCSE sciences and maths.

Section 2 Preparation

Most medical students take Biology and Chemistry at A-level, 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 A-level topics like Potential Dividers. 

Don’t let the claim of GCSE level fool you, it’s a comprehensive test of sciences. Revise the GCSE syllabus of different exam boards, that way you’re covered for something that might not have been on your course.

Section 3 Writing Task:

1 essay | 30 minutes

The last section of the BMAT is a short essay. Students pick from a choice of 3 questions that may be philosophical or practical but will relate to medicine and there are 30 minutes to answer one question. As with essays in general, candidates are being tested on their ability to develop, communicate and present persuasive and concise arguments.

The essay is unusual in that it’s limited by space and 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. 

Section 3 Preparation

These questions usually pertain to; Medicine, a current or social affair, or a quote by a famous figure so practice working through these common topics. 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. 

Who sits the BMAT Exam?

A wide range of universities now uses the Biomedical Admissions Test as part of their assessment process, including international universities. Below is a provisional list of UK universities and courses requiring the BMAT test. Please confirm on the university’s website to be sure! The full list of schools requiring the BMAT and the key dates can be found on the Admissions Testing website.

UniversityCourse
Brighton and Sussex Medical School A100 Medicine
Imperial College London
A100 Medicine
Keele University* A100 Medicine
Lancaster University A100 Medicine & Surgery
A104 Medicine & Surgery with a Gateway Year
University College London
A100 Medicine
University of CambridgeA100 Medicine
University of Leeds A100 Medicine
A101 Gateway Year to Medicine
A200 Dentistry
University of Oxford
A100 Medicine
A101 Graduate Medicine
BC98 Biomedical Sciences

*Keele requires only ‘overseas for fees’ applicants to take BMAT.

How is the BMAT Scored?

The Biomedical Admissions Test awards you one mark per correct answer from each question in Section 1 or 2. This is then converted into a uniform scale, like UMS scaling, from 1.0-9.0. Typical candidates will score 5, with the strongest candidates scoring 7.0 or above.

Section 3 is marked based on two criteria: Quality of Content and Quality of English, which are assessed on a 1.0-5.0 score and A-E basis with 5A representing the top possible grade. Most candidates will score an A in their use of English, which indicates fluency and good use of grammar and vocabulary. In contrast, the median score is 3.0 for Quality of Content, with less than 5% scoring 5.0.

Due to the date of the exam and the early UCAS submission requirement (15th October), you won’t know your BMAT score before applying to Medical Schools. This is different to the UCAT where testing starts in July and ends in September.

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 UCAT, we recommend not making all of your four choices BMAT schools. That way, in the worst-case scenario, your other UCAT schools will be unaffected.

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Discover our BMAT Programme by clicking the button below to enrol and triple your chances of success.

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