Updated 29 May 2020
The BioMedical Admissions Test (or BMAT) is an aptitude test that applicants for some medical, dental and veterinary schools are required to sit as part of the admissions process. It is used by universities in the UK as well as Singapore, Spain, Malaysia, Thailand, Hungary, Croatia and the Netherlands.
The two-hour pen-and-paper test was developed by Cambridge Assessment to help universities whittle down candidates and select those best suited for their courses. Most applicants to medical and veterinary science are high achievers with excellent grades, so some universities need more information to make sure they are choosing the right students.
The BMAT helps universities differentiate between candidates who on paper appear equally qualified. It also provides a way of assessing the potential of students who have a range of qualifications.
The BMAT was first used by Oxford University for Medicine and Physiology courses, the University of Cambridge for Medicine and Veterinary Science courses, and University College London for Medicine.
Over the past few years, further universities have introduced the BMAT as part of their application process for Medicine. These include Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the University of Leeds, Lancaster University and Imperial College London.
The test is also used internationally – a number of institutions in Thailand have introduced the BMAT and it is also used at the University of Navarra in Spain, Leiden University in the Netherlands and the University of Zagreb in Croatia, among others.
Tests are taken at authorised test centres in the UK and around the world. Sessions for entry to UK universities are held in August and October.
For the August test, applicants must choose their own test centre, register themselves and pay for the test online at www.metritests.com.
The August test is usually held at the end of the month, with registration opening in mid-June and closing at the start of August.
For the October test, candidates must be registered by their school, college or chosen test centre. UK candidates will usually be able to take the BMAT October at their school or college. Those who are not at school or college will need to find a local test centre to register them. Some BMAT universities also offer test centres or extra testing sessions.
October test sessions are held at the end of the month. Registration usually opens in early September and will close by the beginning of October.
Check the dates for your test on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing page.
Students must usually register or be registered for the tests at least one month in advance, and results are released about three to four weeks after the test date.
Both tests have the same format and are scored in the same way. Results will be considered equally by courses and institutions that accept both BMAT dates. However, Oxford University will only accept results from the October test for A100 Medicine and BC98 Biomedical Sciences. If you are applying for either of these courses, you must take the test in October.
If you are applying to institutions that accept both dates, it is up to you to choose when you want to take the test.
You might want to consider that taking the test in August will allow you to find out you BMAT score before applying to medical school. Taking the test in October means sitting it after the deadline for UCAS applications.
Some students may feel it makes sense strategically to submit their UCAS application with their BMAT test already under their belt.
Other factors to think about include work experience and any other extracurricular commitments over the summer, as well as preparation for UKCAT, and how much time you will have to fit everything in. There is also an additional cost for the August test – in 2019 the entry fee for August is £83 (£119 outside the EU), while for October it was £48 (£81 outside the EU).
Remember that candidates can only take the test once in an application cycle and results are only valid in the year they are taken.
The BMAT is a pen-and-paper test. It is two hours long and is split into three sections:
This section consists of 35 multiple-choice or short-answer questions. The questions test generic skills in data analysis and inference, problem-solving and understanding arguments.
This section consists of 27 questions which are designed to test candidates’ ability to apply scientific knowledge that they should have acquired from school science and mathematics by the age of 16.
In this section, candidates must choose one essay question from a choice of three. Candidates are assessed on how they select, order and develop their ideas, plus their ability to convey those ideas clearly and effectively in writing.
In sections one and two of the BMAT, each question is worth one mark. Candidates mark answers on a computer-read sheet and the raw score is then converted to a BMAT scale. This runs from one at the lowest end to nine at the highest, reported to one decimal place.
There is no threshold for passing or failing, and an average student will score around 5.0. Higher performing candidates score around 6.0, while exceptional candidates score 7.0 or above.
The essay question from section three is marked by two examiners who award an alphabetical mark for use of written English and a numerical score for content.
The candidate’s use of written English is marked as band A, C or E.
The content of the essay is scored on a scale from one to five. The markers are instructed to consider if the candidate has addressed the question as required, if they have ordered their thoughts clearly, and if they have used their general knowledge and opinions appropriately.
If both examiners give the same mark, or they are no more than one mark apart, then the average of the two marks is reported. So, if one examiner awarded 3A and the other 4C, the final mark would be 3.5B.
If there is a larger gap between the two marks, the essay is marked a third time and the final mark is checked by the BMAT assessment manager.
In general, BMAT scores are used together with GCSE scores and UCAS points when universities are deciding who to invite for interview. However, each medical school uses the results differently and some place more emphasis on the score than others.
Not all BMAT universities officially announce how they use the exam. Below are a few that do, but note that these are guidelines only – check the website of each of your chosen universities for the most up-to-date information.
The BMAT aims to test skills and knowledge that applicants are expected to have already, so, in theory, it should not require a lot of additional study. Yet it is designed to be challenging for even the most able candidates. It assesses high-level skills such as constructing and developing arguments, critical thinking and problem-solving. Most students consider it a difficult exam, so it's advisable to take time to prepare.
The best way to prepare for the BMAT test is to try taking some practice papers. The official BMAT website provides a range of past papers, as well as practice papers with explained answers. It also offers some useful tips and resources on preparing for the exam.
Begin by working through some of the practice papers at your own pace, looking at the explained answers to check how you are doing. Then build up to completing past exams under timed conditions.
As each section tests different skills and knowledge, we have put together some tips for preparing for each.
This section focuses on verbal, mathematical and spatial skills. There are 35 multiple-choice questions that must be answered within one hour, and many students find it the hardest part of the test.
The verbal questions test the candidate’s understanding of arguments, asking them to analyse short passages of text and identify conclusions, assumptions and weaknesses.
The mathematical questions ask candidates to apply basic mathematical skills to solve problems – without using a calculator.
The spatial questions tend to focus on three-dimensional representations. For example, a candidate might have to decide what three-dimensional structures could be made from two-dimensional plans.
This section covers chemistry (six to eight questions), physics (six to eight questions), biology (six to eight questions) and maths (five to seven questions).
Candidates have 30 minutes to complete 27 multiple-choice questions, so time is of the essence.
The questions require GCSE-level science but are not the type of science questions students will be used to from GCSE and A-Level exams. Instead, they require applicants to apply their scientific knowledge using problem-solving skills.
In the final section of the BMAT, you will be asked to write a short essay. Candidates are given a choice of three questions based on a brief quote or statement. They must choose one and provide an answer explaining their chosen statement, weighing arguments for and against, and reaching a conclusion that explains to what extent they agree or disagree with it.
There is half an hour allowed for this section and candidates have only one side of A4 to write their answer, so, again, timing and technique are crucial.
If you think you need more help, there are a number of BMAT courses available, such as the ones by The Medical Portal or Oxbridge medical students. However, these courses are not endorsed by Cambridge Assessment.
Use a soft pencil for sections one and two, and bring a pencil eraser too. A black pen must be used for section three. Correction fluid is not allowed. Calculators and dictionaries are also banned. Guidelines for candidates who require a laptop are available on the Cambridge Assessment website.
No extra time is allowed for candidates who arent native English.
Access arrangements are available if you have special requirements and have been entitled to support for other exams. Inform your centre of any special requirements when you register for your test.
Results will be made available through the Metritests system. For October tests, results for applications to universities in the UK will be sent to those institutions automatically. If you take the test in August, or apply to other universities, you will be responsible for sharing your results.
No. You must take the BMAT in the year you are applying to university. Your score from one year will not affect your chances if reapplying in later years.
Yes. For more information see the useful documents page on the Cambridge Assessment site.
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