Don’t Panic About the BMAT Exam!

The BMAT exam can seem a terrifying prospect, but if you break it down, it’s just testing the skills you already use in science and maths, and real life! The following information about the BMAT Exam structure is taken from The Ultimate BMAT Guide: 600 Practice Questions.



The first question that may come to you is what is the BMAT and why do I have to take it? The BMAT (the BioMedical Admissions Test) is an admissions test used by some universities to further examine your potential and suitability for a medical course. It should be viewed as a chance to prove how good you are, and to make you stand out, especially as you can apply to medical school after you’ve got your results. You could then tailor your application to schools which put weight on certain sections. There are currently 8 UK medical schools that require the BMAT exam. If you’re unsure if they medical school you’ve chosen will ask you to take the BMAT exam, you can find out for sure on their website.


The BMAT exam has 4 different sittings, but for UK medical schools, the BMAT exam is taken either in September or October. Sitting in September means you get your results before the UCAS deadline, meaning you can tailor your application, but be aware that some medical schools only accept results from an October sitting.


The BMAT exam is a 2 hour test that you take on paper. It is divided into three sections, which include: Aptitude and Skills, Scientific Knowledge and Applications, and a writing task. Let’s take a look at the three sections on the BMAT exam in more detail.



Skills TestedQuestions



Problem-solving skills, including numerical and spatial reasoning. Critical thinking skills, including understanding argument and reasoning using everyday language.

35 MCQs

60 minutes


Ability to recall, understand and apply GCSE level principles of biology, chemistry, physics and maths. This is usually the section that students find the hardest.

27 MCQs

30 minutes


Ability to organise ideas in a clear and concise manner, and communicate them effectively in writing. The questions are usually but not necessarily medical

One essay from choice of 4 questions

30 minutes

Section 1: Aptitude and Skills

This section tests generic skills in problem-solving, understanding arguments, and data analysis and inference. These are all skills required as a doctor, and also ones you tend to use in undergraduate study. There are 35 multiple-choice questions, and you have 60 minutes to answer them.

Some tips for answering such questions:

  • Don’t panic if you there there’s a lot to do. Break the question down into a series of steps or calculations.
  • Check other answers if you have time to prove them wrong.
  • The questions are not there to trick you – so think rationally and try and spot patterns.
  • Extract the relevant information – you may not need all of what appears in the question


Section 2 of the BMAT exam: Scientific Knowledge and Applications

This tests your ability to apply the scientific and mathematical knowledge you learn in school by the age of 16. There are 27 questions to answer this time, again multiple-choice, and you are allowed 30 minutes.

This section requires you to do some revision!

Section 3: Writing Task

This is testing your ability to select, develop and organise your ideas, and then communicate them in writing. You are given a choice of 3 questions, from which you pick one to answer in 30 minutes.

You will be given space to plan your answer – make sure you use it!


All 3 sections are sat together and you can’t go back to a previous section or jump ahead to the next one. Your responses are collected in after every section to prevent you from doing this. There are no scheduled breaks and the exam usually takes place on the first Wednesday morning of November.  You cannot use calculators or dictionaries (electronic or paper) in the BMAT exam.

Sections 1 and 2 tend to cause the most problems and indeed many universities will focus on these two (see: How is the BMAT used?). However, it is important not to neglect section 3 in the BMAT Exam as it is also used to shortlist candidates e.g. imperial have a BMAT essay threshold that applicants must meet in order to get an interview.


You can use the official BMAT exam website to access past BMAT papers, or why not take a look at the bestselling BMAT guide written by medical experts which has more than 800 practice questions, solutions and detailed plans to help you write the essay question.