How to Prepare for the BMAT

How you perform in the BMAT will impact which universities may offer you a place, so it’s important that you know how to prepare.

This easy guide walks you through all of the key information you need to know and how to go about preparing for the BMAT. Our BMAT experts have helped students get into top medical schools, including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and UCL. If you’re in need of additional support with your medical application, reach out to our team today.

Important notice: The BMAT is discontinued as of 2024. It has been confirmed that no UK medical school will be using an alternative admissions test, hence the standard UCAT will be required by all universitiesRead this article on the UCAT for more information.

What is the BMAT?

The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is an admissions exam used by a handful of UK universities to assess students’ suitability for medical degree courses, including Medicine, BioMedical Sciences, and Dentistry.

Which universities require the BMAT?

Only a handful of UK medical schools require applicants to take the BMAT. These are:

UniversityCourse(s)
University of OxfordMedicine
Biomedical Sciences
University of CambridgeMedicine
Imperial College LondonMedicine
University College London (UCL)Medicine
Lancaster UniversityMedicine and Surgery
Brighton and Sussex Medical SchoolMedicine

Most medical schools not in this list require applicants to take the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) instead. Read our guide to preparing for the UCAT.

When is the BMAT taken?

Recently, there has been just one BMAT sitting held in October. Previously, applicants had the option of taking the BMAT in either September or November, but this is not an option anymore.

Where is the BMAT taken?

You will sit the BMAT at a local test centre – there are many available, both in the UK and overseas. Many schools and colleges are registered to run admissions tests, so if you’re currently at school or college, start by asking your exams officer whether you can sit the BMAT there. If you’re not able to register and sit the test through your school, you’ll need to find an authorised test centre where you can take the test instead.

How much does the BMAT cost?

The BMAT costs £61 for applicants within the EU (including the UK) and £92 for applicants outside the EU.

What is included in the BMAT?

The BMAT is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different skill. You’ll have 2 hours to complete all of the sections.

Section 1. Thinking skills

This section tests your ability to think critically in order to solve complex problems. It consists of 32 multiple-choice questions, which you will have 60 minutes in total to answer. Section 1 of the BMAT does not require any subject knowledge – instead, its aim is to assess how you think and your problem-solving, data analysis, and mental maths skills.

Section 2. Scientific questions

Section 2 assesses your ability to apply your scientific and mathematical knowledge. Most of its content is comparable to GCSE-level science and maths, although some questions may be slightly more challenging. This section consists of 27 multiple-choice questions, which you will be given 30 minutes to complete.

Section 3. Essay-based paper

The final section of the BMAT tests your ability to communicate effectively, clearly and concisely in an essay format. Assessors will be looking for answers in which you organise your ideas and support your arguments with evidence.

In section 3, you will be given 3 questions to choose from and you must answer one. You will get 30 minutes to write your answer to this question on one page of A4, plus another page on which to make notes and plan your answer.

How is the BMAT marked?

For sections 1 and 2 of the BMAT, each question is worth one mark and your total marks are placed on a scale to give you a score. You will receive a score between 1.0 and 9.0, with 9 being the highest, for each section.

For section 3, you will receive a score between 1.0 and 5.0, with 5 being the highest. This number refers to the quality of the argument written in your essay. You will also receive a letter grade (A-E), which refers to your quality of language. Your number and letter scores are added together to give you one combined mark, such as 4A or 3C.

This section is marked by two examiners, so you will receive two scores, which are then averaged into one final score.

What is a good BMAT score?

In sections 1 and 2 of the BMAT, the average student scores around 5.0. A score of 6.0 or higher is considered excellent. Just 5% of students scored higher than 6.0 in sections 1 and 2 in 2021.

In Section 3, a score of 3 for quality of content is considered average. In the 2021 BMAT, just over 20% of students scored higher than a 3. Nearly 80% of students scored an A (the highest score) in their quality of English.

Joe’s tip: Not all universities ascribe equal weighting to all sections of BMAT. Oxford, for example, weighted sections 1 and 2 (each 40%) more highly than section 3 (20%) in 2021. Oxford then takes the scores from each section, considering their weighting, and converts them into a mean adjusted score. The average score of applicants offered a place in 2021 was 68.3%.

Each university has different scores required for entry and the average score of successful applicants often changes from year to year. For the top four medical schools in the UK (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL and Imperial) the average scores of successful applicants in 2021 ranged from around 4.6 to 5.4 in Section 1, 4.8 to 5.9 in Section 2, and approximately 3.2 in Section 3.

Read our medical application guide for more information on the average BMAT and UCAT scores of successful applicants to the top 10 medical schools in the UK.

5 tips on preparing for the BMAT

1. Find out if and when you need to take the BMAT and leave plenty of time

Before starting your preparation, make sure you know if and when you are required to take the BMAT. This will ensure that you are able to register by the registration deadline and leave yourself plenty of time to prepare.

Unlike the UCAT, which is sat before the UCAS deadline (15th October), the BMAT is sat after the deadline, meaning you cannot base your university choices on your test result. Starting your preparation as early as possible will give you the best chance of a high score and increase the likelihood of getting an offer from the top BMAT universities, including Oxbridge, Imperial and UCL.

Joe’s tip: If you can, revise and complete a few practice tests for the BMAT well ahead of the medical application deadline. Ideally, ask a teacher, tutor or parent to mark your test and calculate your score. Then, compare this score to the average scores of successful applicants at the BMAT universities. This will help to guide you when it comes to deciding which medical schools to apply for.

We recommend splitting your medical applications between UCAT and BMAT-requiring universities so that you are not solely reliant on the outcome of one test. The dates for each exam are different (UCAT is taken from July to September, while BMAT is taken in November) so you should be able to spread out your preparation and give yourself a good chance of success in both.

2. Prepare for every section individually

Each section of the BMAT tests different skills and abilities. In order to perform well overall, you need to make sure you have prepared for every section adequately. Set aside dedicated time to look at past questions for each section in your preparation schedule. Make sure that you practise not only what you already know, but also what you find difficult, especially topics or question styles that you have never come across before.

3. Know what score you’re aiming for

Unlike with school assessments, the BMAT does not have a clear, set ‘top’ grade (such as A* in A levels or 7 in IB). Depending on the calibre of applicants, the average BMAT score of a successful applicant changes each year. This can lead to a misinterpretation of what you should be working towards in your test. Similarly, the average score can differ between universities (e.g. it may be higher for Oxbridge than for Leeds).

Check to see what the average score of successful applicants at your chosen university is, or whether there is a cut off grade. Then, use this as a benchmark to work towards.

Joe’s tip: If you are applying for multiple BMAT-requiring universities, make sure their average scores are not all the same. This will improve your likelihood of receiving an offer and will allow you to be competitive even if you miss your top university’s cut off.

4. Practise past papers under timed conditions

Practising past papers under timed conditions is one of the best ways to prepare for the BMAT. It will not only give you a clear idea of what areas you need to improve on, but will also help you to manage and prioritise your time when under exam conditions.

There are many official past papers available on the BMAT website for you to use. Make sure that you complete at least a few under mock test conditions. That means no phone, no laptop and, ideally, no other distractions, such as music, podcasts, or people to chat to. Only under these conditions will you get a true picture of how you may perform in the real exam.

5. Work with an expert BMAT tutor

Preparing for the BMAT can be stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to perform well so that you can get into your dream university. Unlike school, you won’t necessarily have a structured learning plan that ensures you are prepared for all of the content, or teachers who understand the test specifications. The solution to this is to work with an admissions test expert.

Working with a tutor will provide so many benefits to your preparation. A BMAT tutor can:

  • Identify and focus on areas in which you need extra support.
    It can be tricky to identify your own weaknesses, especially if you don’t know what exactly your examiners are looking for. Our experienced BMAT specialists can help you tailor your preparation to areas where it’s most needed.
  • Offer insider knowledge on the admissions test you are taking and what the assessors will be looking for.
    The Profs’ admissions test tutors have first-hand experience of the specific BMAT structure, content and wider medical admissions process, all of which will be invaluable to your preparation.
  • Make the preparation more fun and engaging.
    It can be difficult to stay self-motivated and engaged when you’re juggling BMAT preparation with normal schoolwork, and all of the other requirements of applying for medical school. Ensuring the preparation process is enjoyable will take some of the pressure off while still maximising your chances of success.

Joe’s tip: Don’t forget about the interview! You don’t need to wait until invites are sent out after completing your BMAT to begin interview preparation. Preparing for your interview early will leave you with more time and make sure all of your hard work in the BMAT is worthwhile. Our admissions experts can help you with all areas of the medical application process, including interview preparation, so reach out if you’re in need of support.

How can we help?

The Profs have many BMAT tutors who can guide you through the process of preparing for this challenging admissions test. Whether you want to get into Oxford, Cambridge, or another top university, our tutors are highly experienced and have a proven track record of helping students secure places. Get in touch with our team today to begin preparing.

FAQs

What is an admissions assessment?

An admissions assessment (also known as admissions test or entrance exam) is a test that you are required to take when applying to a university. Admissions tests differ between universities and specific courses. The most common ones are the Oxbridge admissions tests and admissions tests for Medicine, namely the UCAT and BMAT.

Medical admissions tests are designed to help universities assess your academic potential and suitability for veterinary, medical and dental degree courses. They are used in conjunction with your UCAS application (i.e. your personal statement and whether you meet the entry requirements) to help decide whether to offer you an interview and a place on the course.

What is the difference between the UCAT and BMAT?

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) and BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) are both university admissions tests used to assess Medicine applicants. Though they both have the same goal – to assess students’ suitability for a Medicine degree and whether they would make a good doctor – there are some key differences between them:

  • Which universities require them – Most universities in the UK require the UCAT for medical admissions, while a handful require the BMAT. Check our medical application guide to see which medical schools require each.
  • When they’re sat – While UCAT is sat before the Medicine application deadline (October) – between July and September – BMAT is sat on just one date in October.
  • The exam structure – The UCAT is split into 5 sections which cover verbal and abstract reasoning, quantitative skills, decision making and situational judgement. The BMAT is split into 3 sections which cover thinking skills, scientific knowledge and essay writing.
  • How they’re marked – UCAT is grouped into 2 subsections, giving you a score of between 1200 and 3600 for sections 1-4, and a score of between 1 and 4 for section 5. In contrast, you will get 3 scores for the BMAT: a score of between 1.0 and 9.0 for sections 1 and 2 respectively, and a score between 1.0 and 5.0, plus a letter grade from A to E, for section 3.

When will I get my BMAT results?

You will receive the results of your BMAT test in November – around 3 and a half weeks after you sit it. Your BMAT results will be shared directly with your chosen universities on your behalf, so you do not need to do anything once you’ve taken the exam.

Your BMAT results will then be considered alongside your performance in your UCAS application, including whether your grades meet the entry requirements, and your university admissions interview. You may then receive an offer from your chosen university – offers are usually made between December and March.

If you think there has been an error in the processing or reporting of your test result, you can appeal against the outcome.

When should I start preparing for BMAT?

Each student is different, so there is no set amount of preparation time that will be adequate for everyone. Preparing for the BMAT is also part of the wider admissions process and is taken into account alongside all other areas of your application, so it’s important to prepare for every stage of the application process.

You should start thinking about the BMAT in your first year of sixth form or college. Find out if you need to take the BMAT before registration for the exam opens. Registration for the BMAT usually opens at the beginning of September and closes at the end of September.

Then, give yourself at least a couple of months before the UCAS application deadline to work with a tutor on selecting the right courses, building your profile, and preparing for the BMAT exam. The Profs’ medical admissions experts can also help you with other important elements of your application, including developing your personal statement and preparing for your interview. In total, we advise spending 40-50 hours on all of these stages combined.

What is the GAMSAT and do I need to take it?

If you’re applying for a graduate-only medical school or a graduate-entry Medicine course, you may be required to sit the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT). Universities including Nottingham, Swansea, Liverpool and Cardiff require you to take the GAMSAT as part of their graduate-entry admissions process. Graduate-entry medical schools that don’t require the GAMSAT may still require you to sit the BMAT or UCAT instead. Make sure you check which test you’re required to sit before applying.