What is the BMAT

  • BMAT stands for “Biomedical Admissions Test” and the clue is in the name – it is an exam you have to sit to be considered for entry into Medicine, Dentistry or Biomedical Sciences at certain Universities.
  • The BMAT is also used in Spain, Thailand, Malaysia and the Netherlands, as well as the UK.
  • It is a 2-hour pen-and-paper test divided into 3 sections aimed at assessing “your ability to apply scientific and mathematical knowledge, as well as problem-solving, critical thinking and written communication skills”.
  • Similar to the UCAT, it is a way of getting a standardised test score on these subjects for all applicants, who may have different exam boards/qualifications in their UCAS forms.
  • There are 2 options for when to sit the test: September or November, and the way to pick which is best for you is discussed later.

Who needs to sit the BMAT?

Like the UCAT, only certain Universities require applicants to sit the BMAT – this means, depending on your choices, you may not have to sit the BMAT at all. In the UK, the following Universities require you to sit the test for the mentioned courses:

Universities (which require the BMAT)Which courses require the BMAT?
Brighton & Sussex Medical School A100 Medicine
University of CambridgeA100 Medicine
Imperial College LondonA100 Medicine
Keele UniversityOnly for overseas fees' applicants for A100 Medicine
Lancaster UniversityA100 Medicine and Surgery (and the A104 course with a Gateway year)
Leeds' School of MedicineA100 Medicine (and the A101 course with a Gateway year) and A200 Dentistry
University of OxfordA100 Medicine*, BC98 Biomedical Science*, A101 Graduate Medicine
University College LondonA100 Medicine
University of Manchester For some groups of international applicants for 106 MBChB Medicine and A104 MBChB Medicine with foundation year – see website for full details)

* only accept the November sitting

Where is the BMAT held? How do you register and book the BMAT?

This will vary depending on whether you choose the September or November sitting so, for clarity’s sake, this table should help. The question that often pops up at this stage is which sitting is “best” – this is discussed later in the guide after the key dates

 BMAT SeptemberBMAT November
Where is the test held?There are ~30 test centres around the UK and world, and a list will appear on Meritests online booking when registration opens in June. It isn’t going to be at your school/college as the admin that takes place before the test occurs during the summer holidays when most schools are not open. The test will be held at a centre authorised to run the Admissions tests. Often this is your own school/college so check with the Exams Officer. If your school/office is not set up to run the test, and do not want to apply to be, then you will have to sit it at an authorised open test centre.
How to register and book the BMATYou need to register yourself using Meritests, the online booking system, between June – August.

You will be asked for these details, so make sure you have them ready/find them out with plenty of time: name, gender, D.O.B, UCAS number, names of unis + courses and course codes, details of any access arrangements you need + evidence to support this (you need to give this at a date before the results release date, so make sure you are able to access this if it is held at your school and email if you have questions)
You need to be registered as a candidate by a test centre – it is not possible to register yourself.

Ask the Exams Officer at your school/college/test centre to register you and make sure you get your candidate number (this is proof that you have been registered as it is the last sitting in this cycle and you do not want to miss out due to an administrative error!)

You will be asked for these details, so make sure you find them out with plenty of time: name, gender, D.O.B, UCAS number, names of unis + courses and course codes, details of any access arrangements you need + evidence to support this (Note: there is a deadline of 30th Sept for requesting modified papers so make sure you have access requirement evidence ahead of the time).
Timing of resultsThe BMAT September is sat before October 15th UCAS deadline for Medicine so candidates can use their score strategically when applying.Sat after the UCAS Medicine deadline so candidates cannot use their score to inform their application.
Sharing of resultsCandidates must share the results of your BMAT exam with universities through an online system.Your results are automatically sent to universities.
Female student doctor wearing safety glasses

Cost of sitting the BMAT

For September, the registration fee within the EU (including the UK) costs £85, and the registration fee outside the EU is £122.

For November, the registration fee within the EU (including the UK) costs £49, and the registration fee outside the EU is £83.

However, if you fall into the late registration category there is an extra £35 fee so make sure you are organised.

The September one costs more because it also includes the fee for the centre running the test. However, regardless of what you pick, the entry fee is not designed to be a barrier and standard entry fees can be reimbursed if you fit into one of the criteria (eg free school meals) here, don’t let the cost alone put you off!

What to expect on the day of your BMAT exam

What To Do The Night Before the BMAT

  • Check you have the correct address, time and date and make sure you can get to your test centre with plenty of time (do not arrive for the start time of the exam as this is when you should be checked-in and seated, the confirmation email should recommend how early to arrive).

What to (and what not to) bring to the BMAT

  • You should bring your booking confirmation email, photographic ID (like a passport or driving license) and the equipment needed to take the test (soft pencils, an eraser, black ink pens).

  • You are also allowed to bring a clear water bottle so make sure any labels are removed. Tipex, other correction fluids and calculators are not allowed in the BMAT, so leave them at home to avoid accidentally bringing them into the exam.

  • You will probably be feeling a bit (understandably) nervous so make sure you pack your equipment and ID the night before as you would with any other exam so that you don’t have to stress about them.

Sitting the BMAT

  • You will be checked in and likely have your pencil case and water bottle checked for writing or labels.

  • When you walk into the exam room, you will find your seat or invigilators will direct you to it. They will probably ask you to put your ID on the table so that they don’t have to interrupt you mid-exam to check if you’re the person for the desk.

  • Everyone will start each section simultaneously, and there will be no breaks in between the sections. Each paper has its allotted time so you cannot use the time from section 2 to go back to section 1.

After the BMAT exam is finished

  • After the exam is over you can breathe a sigh of relief and collect a sheet with instructions about how to receive results (see more on this later).

  • Make sure you jot down what essay question you chose and what you roughly said as some universities like to talk about this during interviews.

  • If you get anxious over how you did, perhaps steer clear of The Student Room, and go celebrate your hard work.

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Key BMAT dates

The November dates for 2021 have not been released yet. Keep checking the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing Website for the new November dates. We have included 2020 November dates to give you a rough idea.

2021 BMAT September Dates

  • NOT GOING AHEAD IN 2021 DUE TO COVID-19!
  • All applicants must sit the BMAT November instead.

2020 BMAT November Dates

  • 1st September – Registration begins
  • 1st October – Standard registration closing date
  • 15th October (at 5pm) – Late registration closing date (late fee BMAT applies)
  • 4th November – BMAT 2020 test day
  • 27th November – BMAT results released
  • 4th December – Deadline for BMAT results enquirers
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What’s the difference between the BMAT September and BMAT November

Having heard about the differences between the two options, this is one of the most common questions, and the answer will be personal depending on a number of factors you need to consider:

Difference in...Explanation
AvailabilityLook at the test dates to make sure you are free. If you have an unavoidable commitment that rules out one of the test days, then the choice is simple, you must pick the one that you can attend as there is no flexibility. Think about the weeks/months running up to the exam and whether you will have enough time to prepare. If you have a significant commitment over the summer, like a full-time job, think carefully about whether you would do better with more time to revise.
Are you applying to Oxford for A100 Medicine or BC98 Biomedical Sciences?If you are applying to Oxford for Medicine and Biomed, then you need to sit the November exam, even if the other choices do not express a requirement. You can only sit the BMAT once a year, so if you sit the wrong exam, you won’t be able to apply for Oxford that year. Check that your chosen university and course accepts the September sitting of the BMAT.
Do you want to know your BMAT scores before you apply?This is quite a big deal as it can inform your application and make it stronger. You could make sure your result is above any cut-off scores for your options, and if you did not do as well in the BMAT vs UCAT, you could eliminate BMAT choices to help tailor to your strengths. If you do go with the November sitting for other factors, it is usually wise to not use more than two out of four of your choices on BMAT Universities as the exam can be quite tricky.
What is the test centre availability?See where your closest test centre with free availability is as you need to make sure you can get there (early!) on the test day. Also, consider whether you get a bit nervous during exams and if sitting it in your school/college would substantially improve your performance.

Remember that both tests are considered equally by universities that specify no preference, so do not let any rumours about this shape a decision.

You can also only sit one BMAT exam per admissions cycle, so don’t think you need to pick September to have November as a backup if your results are not as high as you wanted!

If I was to personally sit the BMAT this year, a September booking date would be right for me as I know I would be able to carve out enough time during the summer holidays to work.

The biggest factor swaying my decision would be the ability to know my scores before I sent off my choices, so my application was as informed as possible.  

BMAT Exam Structure

Although we have more detailed information about each section on their individual articles, for the purpose of an overview, the exam is divided into 3 sections:

Section 1: Thinking Skills

There are questions designed to test your problem solving and critical thinking. These skills are tested as problem-solving can help you navigate novel problems encountered in academic and professional work, where there is no textbook solution. Critical Thinking is used to show you can consider an argument put forward, and defend or undermine a view.

This section was updated in 2020 to no longer include questions that tests Data Analysis and Inference, so be aware when you see them crop up in practice questions.

Section 2: Scientific Knowledge & Applications

These are important considering the scientific nature of the courses and is the area that arguably benefits most from preparation.

The questions require a set syllabus of GCSE-level science knowledge but they often require quite sophisticated applications of knowledge under intense time pressure.

The questions cover maths, biology, chemistry and (to the dismay of many) physics. However, with some solid preparation, and an understanding of the time pressure, techniques can be used to help you excel at this section.

Section 3: Writing Essay Task

The idea of writing a short essay scares a lot of people who left their humanities-subject days behind in GCSE, but it is really just testing your ability to select and elaborate on ideas in an organised way.

You can practice how you plan the essay, write concisely and communicate clearly to score very well in this arguably less time-pressured section.

Marking of each section of the BMAT

Questions in Section 1 and Section 2 are worth 1 mark each and the total for each section gets converted into the BMAT’s score scale.

This runs from 1 (low) to 9 (high) and is bell-curved. This means you are not expected to get full marks, and most people will score ~5.0, and it is very exceptional to score above 7.0.

For Section 3, two examiners will independently mark your essay from 0 to 5 for content and A to E for quality of written English. If these marks are the same/similar, your score is the average of the two. If there is a large discrepancy another senior examiner marks it.

This means your resulting score will be two numbers for each of Section 1 and 2, and a number and a letter for Section 3 e.g. 6.2, 6.7, 4A. You should see if there are any “cut-off” scores that your chosen universities employ to streamline who gets an interview.

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How To Prepare For the BMAT

In terms of resources here are some to start you off:

  • Look at the Section 2 specification carefully and thoroughly.

Different exam boards cover different topics so make sure you understand all the points by going through each one and ticking them off. We’ve put the specification for each subject together for you, just click the subject (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics).

  • Read the assumed subject knowledge guide.

This is really helpful for explaining and brushing up on topics to the correct level of learning, especially for physics.

  • Download practice papers and past papers from the admissions testing website.

This is collectively a huge volume of questions written by the people who set the exams so make sure you have a look at these and familiarise yourself with the format (but be aware that the specification can change year upon year).

  • Check out the 6med website

6med have an ethos of making resources accessible for everyone. The BMAT Bundle gives you access to everything, including our amazing BMAT Ninja that lets you “train” for the BMAT with over 1000 questions and options for bursaries – be sure to check it out.

patient-being-pushed-on-hospital-bed-by-two-doctors-wearing-scrubs

Apart from resources, when you prepare:

  • You must introduce the time-pressured nature of the exam into practice.

If you were given a day at home, you could probably score close to full marks on the paper, however, the nature of the test means you have to adapt your thinking and realise you are not expected to get 100% on the paper.

For example, sometimes the quickest way to answer a question is to rule out the incorrect answers instead of laboriously working through a complex sum that could eat up valuable exam time, or even leave the question to the end so you could pick up easy marks.

Therefore, when looking at how to prepare, you should revise both the content and the time-pressured style of the exam so you do not get as stressed on the day.

  • Practise without your calculator.

Most exams in the A-level world onwards let you use calculators, however, the BMAT is not one of those exams. Make sure you brush up on your mental maths as you will need it for Section 1 and 2, and can be a big drain on time if you are not familiar with it.

Re-sitting the BMAT

As mentioned before, you can only sit one exam per cycle, so if you need to re-sit the exam, it would have to be in the next admissions cycle. The score for each cycle only lasts for one admissions cycle, so if you need to reapply the following year for any reason, you would need to re-sit the BMAT again.

Results Of The BMAT

For both sittings, results are delivered through the Meritests booking system using the login details (given on the test day for November BMAT takers) on the key date mentioned above.

However, assuming you are applying to UK unis and you are sitting the BMAT in September, you must also use the Metritests system to select the institutions that will receive your results.

You are responsible for sharing your results via Metritests by the deadline if sat in September, and universities will not consider results provided in any other way!

If you are sitting the test in November, this is done automatically, but it is vital that September test-takers remember this.

Closing Top Tips For The BMAT

1

Keep up-to-date and informed.

Use the official test website to make sure you know all the key information straight from the horse’s mouth.

Ensure you are crystal clear about what the differences are between September and November exams so you do not sit the wrong one for your course options or miss out on doing something important such as sharing your results with universities.

2

Organise your documents.

Keep your login details and confirmation details safe so they are handy on the exam and results days.

3

Do not be fooled into thinking it is just going to be a GCSE paper.

The content may be GCSE-level but the application and style of the exam is not. Do not get complacent even if you have an array of As and A*s at GCSE. Without sounding too doom-and-gloom, do not underestimate the time pressure and practice under the timing conditions as much as possible.

4

Use resources and prepare in advance.

There is a whole bank of resources at your disposal, such as BMAT Ninja, so make sure you get through practice questions to properly prepare yourself. The more you prepare and get familiar with the exam format, the better you will perform on the day in this less-conventional exam.

If you’re reading this then congratulations, you now have a good overview of what you need to know about the BMAT and the key differences between the two test dates. The next step is to check out the other blog posts, which elaborate on each of the 3 BMAT Sections and the results and scoring, and then start preparing and practising!

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