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If you’re applying for Oxford or Cambridge for Medicine, then you probably know that you’ll have to sit the BMAT. But what exactly is it?

What is the BMAT?

The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is a pre-interview assessment for students applying to study in various fields of medicine, biomedical sciences or veterinary medicines by some universities.

The BMAT is taken in September or October, and is used by universities as an indicator of whether or not to invite you for an interview. It is a crucial part of the jigsaw puzzle of your medicine application.

Which universities want the BMAT?

It is required by many universities across the country, listed below: 

  • University of Cambridge
  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  • University of Oxford Medical School
  • Imperial College London
  • Keele University
  • Lancaster University
  • Leeds’ School of Medicine
  • University College London

What does the BMAT test?

The BMAT is designed to assess your cognitive ability and various attributes necessary for healthcare professionals. You will be tested on a variety of different skills including problem solving, critical thinking, application of scientific knowledge and writing skills. It is not only testing what you know, but also how you think. 

What does the BMAT include?

It is made up of three sections, and lasts a total of 2 hours. 

Section 1: Aptitude and Skills – Problem Solving, Understanding Argument, and Data Analysis and Inference (35 Questions). All questions in this section are multiple choice and of equal weighting. You will score 1 mark for every correct answer and not gain a mark for every incorrect or unanswered question. You have a total of 60 minutes for this section.

Section 2: Application of Scientific Knowledge – Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths (27 questions). All questions in this section are multiple choice and of equal weighting. You will score 1 mark for every correct answer and not gain a mark for every incorrect or unanswered question. You will have a total of 30 minutes for this section.

Section 3: Writing – Write an essay in response to a science-based essay prompt. There will be four essay prompts and you must write a response to one. You will be provided with 1 A4 page to answer. There is a word limit of 550 words for the written response, and you may be penalised if you go over this. 

For a detailed breakdown of the different skills tested in Section 1 of the BMAT, see our free BMAT guidebook.

For section 2, you need lots of specific scientific knowledge. You need to have a fairly strong understanding of all 3 sciences as well as Maths to at least GCSE-Level. In order to apply for Medicine, you must take Chemistry and most also take Biology. Given that you might not take an A-Level in a third science, there will be content that you have not studied before which you must study for the BMAT. For a full breakdown of the BMAT syllabus, download our BMAT guidebook.

How is the BMAT marked?

Section 1 and 2 of the BMAT are marked from 0-9 with 5 being the average score per section. Anything above 5 is seen as a good score, and very few candidates (about 5%) score above 8. Given that the score is scaled, a small improvement with your raw score will lead to huge improvements on your scaled score. It is also important to note that you do not need to achieve full raw marks to gain a full scaled score (9). 

Remember: the essay in the BMAT doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to be a good communicator with a strong grasp of English, and able to construct a good argument.

Section 3 is marked on 2 scales: A-E for Quality of written communication & 0-5 for Strength of argument. The average mark for strength of argument is 3-3.5 whilst most candidates will score A/B for Quality of Written Communication. This is because they are testing for competence rather than excellence in this section. A grade of C or below, generally indicates a very weak grasp of English and a clear lack of fluency. 

Conclusion

Remember: don’t panic! If you’re getting ready to sit the BMAT, we’ve got a complete guide to preparing for the BMAT, as well as an expert technique for making the most out of your time in the exam room. Also, why not check out our comprehensive free guidebook to the BMAT?

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