The BMAT (and the 2020 updates)
Updated: Jun 26
The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is a two-hour pen and paper aptitude test required by a some medical, dental and veterinary schools (listed on their official website).
The BMAT is different from the UCAT (the other medical school admissions test) in that it assesses a broad range of skills across three sections:
BMAT Section 1 (Aptitude and skills)
This section tests your comprehension of text (similar to Verbal Reasoning in the UCAT) and ability to critique and evaluate arguments and information.
I found some great tips for this section by the MSAG (Medical School Applications Guide) here
BMAT Section 2 (Scientific knowledge and applications)
Practice your fractions – the Maths and Physics questions involved a lot of these
Revise your GCSE Physics! Many medical students do not take Physics at A level and often forget to go over it before taking the BMAT so try and prioritise this subject. Revise your key formulae like speed, distance and time; pressure; force, mass and acceleration; density, mass and volume. Some helpful GCSE formulae can be found on this site.
Look out for clues in the phrasing of the question – if the question is abstract, especially in the Maths section, it is likely that they are expecting you to form an equation and solve it.
BMAT Section 3 (Written communication)
Essay plan for optimum efficiency: coordinate your thoughts and have an introduction, body and conclusion mapped out. Since you will only have 30 mins to get your argument across, I suggest only focusing on a maximum of 2 main points/ideas in the body.
Practice writing timed essays in your spare time and sending them to your teachers or current medical students for review. This can help you get an idea of the level you are at and how you can constantly improve. I scored
My BMAT essay plan exemplar
‘When treating an individual, the physician should consider the wider society.’ Explain what this means. Argue that a doctor should only consider the patient that she/he is treating. To what extent may the interest of the individual conflict with that of the wider population?
Beneficence: If a patient has an aggressive form of cancer that can only be treated by an expensive therapy (with a very poor prognosis if they are not given the treatment), they should be given the treatment to save them, despite the fact that this does not benefit the wider society.
Genetics: From a genetic standpoint, no two people have the same genome. This means that a treatment that may cure a large proportion of the general public, may not be the appropriate treatment for your patient (in essence, epigenetics - taking into account a person's genetics when formulating a treatment plan). In this instance, a doctor should only consider the patient he/she is treating.
When a patient's health problem is a direct risk to others: e.g. the patient has contracted a highly infectious disease. The physician must consider wider society when treating this patient. So while quarantining a patient may be a conflict of their interest, it prevents further harm from being spread to others.
A doctor must consider whether the patient or the wider population will be at the greatest risk and make them a priority when deciding how to treat. Doctors should always treat patients in their best interest, which must take into account the affect on the rest of society.
Due to this broad range of skills tested, coupled with the fact you can’t use a calculator or a dictionary, it is quite a tough exam!
BMAT Mark Scheme:
More info can be found on the admissions testing site here
Sections 1 and 2: total raw marks for each section are converted to BMAT's scale, which runs from 1 (low) to 9 (high). Typical BMAT test-takers will score around 5.0, roughly half marks. The best test-takers will score around 6.0, and a few exceptional test-takers will score higher than 7.0. I scored
Writing Tasks in Section 3 are marked by two examiners. Each examiner gives two scores – one for quality of content (on a scale of 0–5), and one for quality of written English (on the scale A, C, E).
My scores for the 2015 BMAT were:
Section 1: 3.1
Section 2: 5.2
Section 3: 2.5A
Unfortunately, I did not do very well and when applying to university the first-time round, I chose UCL, Oxford, Imperial (which all relied on the BMAT) and Keele (which relied on the UCAT). Due to my poor BMAT test results, I was declined from Imperial and Oxford before interview. I advise that you choose no more than 2 BMAT universities to apply to!
A full list of the universities that use the BMAT can be found here
The BMAT is usually taken between September – December. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BMAT – September will not go ahead in 2020. There are now alternative test sessions available. For all the latest information, please visit their dedicated COVID-19 page.
BMAT preparation can be difficult. I did lots of questions, read tips online and tried to write practice essays and get my Sixth Form teachers and alumni medical students to read them. There are also lots of courses out there to help you refine your exam technique. I did not give myself enough time to study for the exam and I was very flustered and nervous on the day. I recommend booking to do the test in November and studying in the summer.
Below are some of the amazing resources out there (and some of which I used to create this psot):