So you’re a parent and your son/daughter tells you he/she has to take the BMAT. Naturally, you look around the internet trying to find information about it, but it’s hard to find a single website that explains the exam in a coherent manner. We know this because we’ve had plenty of phone calls from parents confused about the BMAT, and after explaining how it works many times, we thought it would be helpful to write up an article about it. Here goes:

What is the BMAT?

BMAT stands for BioMedical Admissions Test. It’s a 2-hour exam, taken by medical (and vet) school applicants every year at the start of November. In 2015, students will sit the BMAT on Wednesday 4th November. The exam is split into 3 sections – (1) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, (2) Science and Maths, and (3) Essay.

When is the BMAT?

As mentioned above, the students applying for 2016 entry will sit the BMAT on 4th November 2015. This is after the applications go in. This means that taking the BMAT is somewhat of a gamble, in that you only take the exam after you have applied. If you do very badly in the BMAT, you’re very likely to get rejected without interview from the universities you’ve applied to that require it.

Who has to take the BMAT?

We’ve written an extensive article on the subject here – How universities use the BMAT. The short answer is that students applying to study Medicine at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Leeds and Brighton & Sussex need to take the BMAT. Students applying to study veterinary medicine at Cambridge and the Royal Veterinary College also have to take the exam. Finally, if you’re reading this from Singapore or The Netherlands, you need to take the BMAT if you’re applying to Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (Singapore) or Leiden University (Netherlands).

How much does the BMAT cost?

We couldn’t possibly put it clearer than the official BMAT website does here – BMAT Dates and Costs. Just to summarise, it costs £44 from the UK (and EU) and £74 from the rest of the world.

How do you prepare for the BMAT?

Attending the BMAT Crash Course is a pretty good shout. Other than that, practice papers are the way forward. We’ve got links to all of them on our Free Resources page. All the other advice we can give is specific to each section – we’re in the process of writing separate posts on how to prepare for all three sections, and will link to them below when they’re done.

What can I do to help my child prepare?

Pay for them to attend our course! Other than that, unless you’re a Critical Thinking/Maths/Science teacher, there’s probably not an awful lot you can do personally. Depending on your parenting style, you might want to encourage/force them to start preparing by October (a month is plenty of time to prepare). Also, if they write practice essays for Section 3 (and they should), it would be helpful if you read through them and give them constructive criticism.

How do the different universities use the BMAT?

As mentioned above, we’ve got an article explaining just that over here – How universities use the BMAT.

What’s a good BMAT score?

The BMAT scoring system is a little weird and confusing. Section 1 and 2 are graded from 1 – 9, and Section 3 is graded out of 5 with a letter from A-E. A score of around 5/9 is the average mark, and tends to translate to around 50% of the questions correct. This means something very interesting – that half of the students taking the BMAT will get less than half the questions correct! This is very good news, because it means all you have to do is get a score of 50% to be better than half of the applicants.

Anyway, 5 is the average score. We’d consider a score in the 6s “pretty good”. A score in the 7s is “exceptional”, and a score above that is so good that it’s almost unheard of. Importantly, to get a score of 9/9 (and therefore, to be in the top 10 in the world), you don’t actually need 100%. For example, in one year, 29/35 on Section 1 was equivalent to 9/9. It’s an odd scaling process that we might do a separate article about in the future.

Our tip would be as follows: “Aim for 9 but be happy with 7”.

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