Universities requiring the BMAT
(updated: 2019 entry)
Brighton and Sussex Medical School*
University of Cambridge
Imperial College London
University of Leeds
University of Oxford
University College London
*only UK/EU applicants
**only international applicants; UK/EU applicants need to take the UKCAT instead
test structure & content
There are three sections in total – you will receive a separate score for each section, although they are all taken in the same sitting over a cumulative duration of two hours.
Calculators are not allowed in any section.
SECTION 1: APTITUDE AND SKILLS
This section tests skills involving problem solving, understanding arguments, and making inferences from information given. All questions in this section are multiple-choice and are worth the same number of marks each. There are various forms of questions, and many tend to involve analysing text, pictures, or data. The main difference between this section and UKCAT test sections 1 to 4 is the fact that you will have much more time (about 1 minute and 43 seconds per question) to read and think about your answers carefully.
BMAT November 2017 Question 16
I have two credit cards, each of which has a four-digit PIN. Together the two PINs consist of eight different non-zero digits, whilst the four digits of each of them individually add up to 19.
Which non-zero digit does neither of the two PINs contain?
Total number of questions: 35
Recommended amount of time to spend on this section: 60 minutes
Recommended amount of time per question: 1 minute 42 seconds
SECTION 2: Scientific Knowledge and ApplicationS
This section is designed to test your existing core scientific knowledge and your ability to apply it accurately. GSCE-level knowledge is sufficient to answer these questions. Subjects tested are Biology (6 – 8 questions), Chemistry (6 – 8 questions), Physics (6 – 8 questions), and Mathematics (5 – 7 questions). If you are not currently studying any of these subjects at A-level, we strongly suggest that you go over the test specification (testable material) and refresh your memory on these topics using GCSE-level resources. All questions in this section are multiple-choice and are worth the same number of marks each.
BMAT November 2017 Question 25
A woman has a recessive genetic condition but neither of her parents has the condition. Which one of the following could not be true?
A. Both her parents are heterozygous for this gene.
B. One maternal grandparent and one paternal grandparent have the condition.
C.One maternal grandparent and one paternal grandparent are heterozygous for this gene.
D. All her grandparents were carriers of the recessive allele.
E. Both parents are homozygous and a mutation occurred in the DNA of a gamete from one of her parents.
Total number of questions: 27
Recommended amount of time to spend on this section: 30 minutes
Recommended amount of time per question: 1 minute 6 seconds
SECTION 3: WRITING TASK
In this section, you will receive three essay questions (note: there used to be four choices from 2010-2016, but this was reduced to three in 2017) based on topics relating to general, medical, or scientific interest. You will only have to answer one essay question of your choice. All questions include a short proposition and may require candidates to define the proposition, explain or discuss the implications of the proposition, suggest an argument against the proposition, and/or suggest a resolution. This will be clearly stated in the question.
BMAT November 2015 Question 2
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” (Christopher Hitchens)
Explain what you think Christopher Hitchens means. Argue to the contrary that some assertions do not require evidence. To what extent do you agree with the statement?
BMAT November 2004 Question 3
Our genes evolved for a Stone Age life style. Therefore, we must adopt Stone Age habits if we are to be healthy.
Write a unified essay in which you address the following: Explain the logical connexion between the two sentences. What might be the practical implications if we were to agree with the reasoning? Discuss the extent to which the argument is valid.
Recommended amount of time to spend on this section: 30 minutes
scoring & results
How The Scoring System Works
A. Sections 1 and 2
Like the UKCAT, raw marks are converted to scaled marks. The BMAT scale ranges from 1 (low) to 9 (high). 5.0 would indicate roughly half marks, and the average score usually ranges between 4.2 and 4.9. A score of 6.0 or above is excellent, and only a few exceptional candidates will score 7.0 and above.
B. Section 3
Marks for quality of content are awarded on a scale of 0 (lowest) to 5 (highest), while quality of written English is graded on a scale of A (best) to E (worst). Each essay is marked by two examiners. They will both assign a score to your essay, and the average of the two will be your final score. The average and most common score is usually 3A.
Read more about the marking criteria here.
How universities use bmat scores
Just like the UKCAT, different medical schools use BMAT scores differently. Unlike UKCAT Consortium, BMAT has not published any official data regarding how each university uses BMAT scores. However, there are a number of websites that have done a brilliant job of compiling information based on university websites and Freedom of Information data - they are linked below: -
1. BlackStone Tutors
Our review: We recommend starting here to get a good overview of what universities look for in terms of BMAT requirements. BlackStone Tutors’ website includes really great diagrams that concisely present all the information you need. It is also the only website we could find that also includes detailed information on how non-UK universities use the BMAT.
2. The Medic Portal
a) Part One (Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL)
b) Part Two (Leeds, Brighton and Sussex, Lancaster, Keele)
Our review: The Medic Portal has a good compilation of all official BMAT information released by universities themselves - so you can definitely count on their information to be reliable! They also include lots of statistics so you can see how you compare based on applicants’ performances in previous years.
3. The UCL Medic (Our cheeky favourite!)
Our review: This is the website to go to if you want detailed strategic advice not just based on official information from university websites, but also from careful analysis of information from Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests and other students’ experiences from TheStudentRoom. The information is updated yearly and has impressively already been updated with advice on the newly introduced September sitting in 2018.
bmat september vs BMAT october
There are two different test sessions for the BMAT exam - one in September and one in October. If you are applying to the UK, note that the University of Oxford only accepts results from the October session. The other UK universities accept results from either session, but check the BMAT website before you register just in case!
If you are sitting for the BMAT to apply to a non-UK university, you can also check here to see which test session your university accepts.
In the past, the norm for students was to focus on the UKCAT and personal statements first; while BMAT preparation came later, after submitting UCAS applications in mid-October. In light of the newly introduced (2018) September exam session, it is likely that several things may change.
The introduction of the earlier exam session means that applicants are now able to obtain their BMAT scores before they submit their UCAS application, meaning that candidates who score poorly in the exam may choose not to apply to BMAT universities after all. This leaves us with various possibilities: -
Students may sit for the BMAT even if they are not planning to apply to a BMAT university. They do this on the off chance that they do score very well – in which case, they may choose to apply to a BMAT university after all, to use this to their advantage.
Students planning to apply to BMAT universities who do not score as highly as anticipated may choose not to apply to any BMAT university after all.
Students sitting for the September exam will have less time to prepare for it, and this time will also have to be shared with time normally spent on UKCAT preparation and personal statements.
#1 and #2 should result in an increased average BMAT score among BMAT university applicants (note: this is not the same as the average BMAT score of all candidates, which should decrease). This may be significant if you plan to apply to a university that uses cut-off scores e.g. University of Oxford, Imperial College London as these cut-off scores are likely to increase.
One way to go about this is to try doing a few BMAT past papers early on to gauge how well you think you can score on this exam. Also, try to estimate how much you think your grade could improve with about an additional month of revision. Focus on your UKCAT and personal statement first, together with the rest of your UCAS application. If you are coping well, and still have time to spare for BMAT preparation, then go for the September sitting. This is a safer alternative, since one of the most-feared aspects of the BMAT exam was the fact that applicants had to apply for these universities without knowing how well they would perform later on the actual exam. The fact that a September session now exists is a huge advantage to applicants.
If you are already up to your neck with everything you have to do before October, and are confident that you will be able to do much better with the extra few weeks of pure BMAT preparation, then by all means, go for the October sitting instead. Students have been doing this pre-2018, so it is definitely not a disaster if you have to apply without knowing your BMAT scores beforehand. If you do use this route though, make sure you don’t apply to more than two BMAT universities - when things are uncertain, never keep all your eggs in the same basket!
how to prepare
The tried and tested way to score highly in BMAT exams is simply to do as many practice questions as possible. Many questions tend to require quite a bit of critical thinking, so it is important to get comfortable with answering this style of question. If you run out of practice questions, the Thinking Skills Assessment (TSA) (also by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, the same company in charge of the BMAT) has multiple-choice questions of a similar format. Revision is possible for Section 2, and an official test specification is available here – so use this as a guideline on topics you need to know inside out. Use GCSE-level resources to brush up on subjects you haven’t touched in a while, especially if you are not doing any of these subjects at A-level.
Our advice is the same for the essay section - do past year questions! When writing your practice essays, print out and use the BMAT answer sheet template so that you can get used to the length of essay you need to write on the day of your actual exam. This is important because you are only allowed to write on the sheet provided and no additional answer sheets may be used.
Since you only have about 30 minutes to complete this section, time is of essence. Make sure you give yourself a few minutes to write a quick plan.
Always consider: -
1. What is the quote/statement given? Can I define it in my own words? What does it mean in the context of medicine?
2. What are the main points in this argument? Do I have any evidence to support my points?
3. Are there any counter-arguments? Do I have any evidence to support my points?
4. Do I have a personal opinion on this topic?
5. Having presented both sides of the argument, can I provide a valid conclusion?
Useful links: -
* If you are applying to UCL, here is an additional tip!
After your exam, jot down the main points of your BMAT essay somewhere safe, while it is still fresh in your mind. UCL tends to ask applicants about the content of their BMAT essays during the panel interview, so use this to refresh your memory on what you wrote if you get called for an interview months later. (You will receive your actual essay on the day of your interview, but being able to refresh your memory on what you wrote earlier in advance is always a good thing!)
All the best!
Medical Schools Council. Entry Requirements for UK Medical Schools 2019 Entry [Internet]. London: Medical Schools Council; 2018 [cited 23 July 2018]. Available from: https://www.medschools.ac.uk/media/2357/msc-entry-requirements-for-uk-medical-schools.pdf
Dates and costs for BMAT [Internet]. Admissionstesting.org. 2018 [cited 23 July 2018]. Available from: http://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/bmat/bmat-september/dates-and-costs/
Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. BMAT – October [Internet]. Admissionstesting.org. 2018 [cited 26 July 2018]. Available from: http://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/bmat/bmat-october/
Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing. BMAT – September [Internet]. Admissionstesting.org. 2018 [cited 26 July 2018]. Available from: http://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/bmat/bmat-september/dates-and-costs/