Should I be taking the BMAT?

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In this month’s post with the Medic Portal, Maria discusses the pros and cons of the Biomedical Admissions Test.

The Biomedical Admissions Test (also known as the BMAT) is a medical admissions test required by a number of universities for Medicine and Dentistry. It is a two hour written exam which has three sections. The first section assesses your problem-solving skills, the second assesses your knowledge and application of GCSE chemistry, biology, physics and maths, and the third assesses your ability to write a coherent and balanced essay usually discussing a controversial statement or an ethical issue.

Which are the BMAT universities?

The universities that will take the BMAT for 2017 entry as part of applications for A100 undergraduate Medicine are Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Brighton and Sussex, Leeds, Lancaster and Keele medical schools. For graduate Medicine, Imperial and Oxford require the BMAT, and for Dentistry, Leeds is the only university for which the BMAT needs to be completed. Each university places a different emphasis on your BMAT score; some have a BMAT cut-off score for each section, while others look at your score in conjunction with your personal statement and academic qualifications. It is important to know to what extent the BMAT university or universities you have applied to use your BMAT score.

Why you should be taking the BMAT

The most important factor to consider in deciding whether or not to do the BMAT is whether you want to study at a university that requires you to complete the BMAT as part of their medical admissions process. If you aspire to go to a BMAT university, the BMAT is your ticket to the interview and in this case, you should prepare sufficiently for all three BMAT sections and take the exam on 2nd November 2016 for 2017 entry.

Many people agree that the BMAT is easier to prepare for than the UKCAT as there is a set specification on the official BMAT website which lays out the knowledge needed and the format of the exam. I would suggest that if you are unsure about whether to take the BMAT, have a look at the style of some practice papers on the official website and try the questions. If science and maths are your strong points, and you like problem-solving, debating and discussions, you will probably do well on the BMAT (or even enjoy it!).

Why you should not

It is important to remember that preparation for the BMAT will involve a substantial amount of work and revision of your GCSE science and maths topics, as well as past paper practice, mainly over the October half-term break. Also, you will sit the BMAT after sending off your university application, so you cannot use your BMAT score to apply strategically to universities.

If your UKCAT score was fairly high, you might decide to play to this strength and not risk taking the BMAT, instead concentrating on only applying to universities that favour applicants with a high UKCAT score or where your UKCAT score is above the university’s cut-off score. Rather than spending time working for the BMAT, you could use the time to catch up on school work or begin preparing for interviews.

If you do decide to do the BMAT, my advice would be to only apply to one BMAT university in case the exam doesn’t go well on the day, so that you only lose one potential interview and offer if the BMAT goes badly.

Good luck with your decision!

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