UCAT vs BMAT: Which one to take?

All UK medical schools now require you to take the UCAT/UKCAT or BMAT. These exams are held in the summer or autumn of the year before the year of entry you are applying for. Most medical applicants usually take both exams or just the UCAT/UKCAT, but which should you choose, or should you go for both?

Author: Isabelle Zou

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All UK medical schools now require you to take either the UCAT/UKCAT or BMAT

These are held in the summer or autumn of the year preceding the year of entry you are applying for. Most medical applicants tend to take both exams or just the UCAT/UKCAT, but there are also some applicants who choose to only sit the BMAT exam. There’s no way around having to revise and sit at least one admissions test, but which one should you pick, or should you go for both?

How are the UCAT and BMAT different?

Firstly, different medical schools will require different exams. Some universities require you to take the UCAT and some require you to take the BMAT. If there’s a medical school you’ve got your heart set on, it’s really vital to check which admissions test you need to take to apply and make sure you register for it before the deadline!

 

The links below demonstrate which universities take the BMAT and which ones take the UCAT.

 UCAT Universities 
AberdeenGlasgowPlymouth
BirminghamHull-YorkQueen Mary, London
CardiffKeeleQueen’s Belfast
DundeeKing’s College LondonSheffield
DurhamLeicesterSouthampton
East-AngliaManchesterSt Andrews
EdinburghNewcastleSt George’s
ExeterNottinghamWarwick

  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Oxford Medical School
  • Imperial College London
  • University College London
  • Leeds’ School of Medicine
  • Brighton & Sussex Medical School
  • Keele University (overseas applicants only, home applicants sit the UCAT)
  • Lancaster University

Performing well in your BMAT, UCAT and Interviews is key for offer success.

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Finding the results for the BMAT/UCAT

A major difference between the UCAT and BMAT is when you find out your scores.

For the UCAT you will receive your results as soon as you walk out of your exam! You will, therefore, know your scores before you apply for medical schools. This is good because you will have a better idea of which medical schools might accept you. 

If you take the BMAT you have the option of sitting it in either September or October and your BMAT results will be released around 3 weeks after your test day (released on 21st September for the early sitting and 23rd November for the later sitting).

This means that those who take the September BMAT will be able to apply to medical schools knowing their BMAT score, whereas those who take the October BMAT will take the test and find out their results after the application deadline. If you’re applying for Oxford medical school, they will only accept the BMAT results if you sit it in October.

This is something to consider because taking the UCAT or September BMAT means that you will be able to apply to medical schools more strategically by looking at the which universities use the test scores in a way that fits your score.

style and content of the exam: BMAT VS UCAT

Although both the UCAT and BMAT test the way that you think, they consist of different sections, which test different aptitudes to each other. The UCAT test splits questions into 5 sections: quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning, decision making and situational judgement. On the other hand, section 1 of the BMAT tests critical thinking, numerical and spatial reasoning and problem-solving, similar to the skills needed for the UCAT, but all of the questions are mixed into one section.

20 POINT UCAT & BMAT CHEAT SHEET

✔ Get Marks Most Students Won’t
✔ Actionable Tips
✔ Specific To Each Test

UCAT AND BMAT CHEAT SHEET

The BMAT section 2 and 3

Section 2 tests scientific knowledge (to GCSE standard) and section 3 tests your ability to structure and write an argument. Often, students struggle with one of these sections in particular – if you’re more mathematically minded, you might find essay writing harder, or the reverse may be true (unless you’re the lucky few who are confident in every section). These extra skills tested in the BMAT as compared to the UCAT are an important consideration when choosing which exams to take.

In conclusion

The general advice is that all medical and dental applicants should take the UCAT, as you will receive your results before applying so you can then make the decision as to whether to apply to UCAT medical schools based on your mark. This means that there’s really nothing to lose from taking the UCAT.

 

 

Taking the BMAT exam carries more risk if the university that you’re applying to requires you to take it in October, as you will have applied before taking the exam. However, the BMAT is a good alternative if you have not achieved a high enough score in the UCAT, or, if your truly want to study at the BMAT medical schools to which you’ve applied, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s worth the risk!

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