BMAT Changes For 2020

Advice & Insight From BMAT Specialists

​The BMAT in 2020

There are numerous changes that have been implemented with regards to the BMAT in 2020. Previously, there were two test periods – September (5th September 2020) and November (4th November 2020). Now, however, the test will only run in November. The fee of the November test is £49 for those within the UK/EU, with this increasing to £83 outside the EU – there is an additional late fee of £35. The registration for this exam opens on the 1st September, with the deadline being the 1st October, and the results being released on the 27th November. The universities requiring the BMAT in November are: Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Imperial College London, Keele University (for ‘overseas for fees’ applicants), Lancaster University, University College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds.
Section 1 of the BMAT has also changed. Previously, there were 35 multiple-choice questions to be completed in 60 minutes; however, there are now 32 questions present. Section 2 (Scientific Knowledge and Applications) will remain the same, with there being 27 multiple-choice questions in 30 minutes, as will Section 3, consisting of a writing task to be completed in 30 minutes. Regarding the content, Section 1 will no longer include questions testing data analysis and inference. The skills below will be tested.
Problem Solving (16 questions):

  • Select relevant information
  • Identify similarities
  • Determine and apply appropriate procedures

Critical Thinking (16 questions):

  • Summarise conclusions
  • Draw conclusions
  • Identify assumptions
  • Assess impact of additional evidence
  • Detect reasoning errors
  • Match arguments
  • Apply principles
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​Changes regarding the preparation for the BMAT

The fact that the September test is no longer taking place means that the test date is later for those who had originally planned to complete it at this time, giving more time to prepare for the exam. Regarding preparing for the BMAT, the most effective method is to complete the practice papers that are on the website (https://www.admissionstesting.org/for-test-takers/bmat/preparing-for-bmat/practice-papers/), and use the answer keys provided. It must also be emphasised that it is important to do these under timed conditions, in particular the writing task of Section 3. Applicants can also carry out section specific revision. Section 1 of the Thinking Skills Assessment for the University of Oxford has similar questions to Section 1 of the BMAT, thus doing the past papers for this exam can be beneficial. As Section 2 of the BMAT tests knowledge from GCSE Science and Maths, it will help to go over and revise this content using the BMAT specification (https://www.admissionstesting.org/Images/535824-bmat-test-specification.pdf).
However, a disadvantage of only being able to do the BMAT in November is that it takes place after the UCAS application deadline, the 15th October 2020. Therefore, students will be required to submit their applications without knowing their BMAT results. This may require applicants to think tactically when deciding which universities to apply to. If students feel less confident with the BMAT than the UCAT, for example, it may be effective to choose to apply to fewer universities requiring the BMAT. In previous years, when the test was only taken in November, it was recommended to apply to a maximum of two BMAT universities, in case candidates obtain a low BMAT score and run the risk of receiving less offers.
Concerning the changes to Section 1 of the BMAT, the fewer questions may prove to be advantageous to students. The main challenge of the BMAT – and in particular Section 1 – is the time constraint. The Problem Solving questions can present complicated sets of data, and the Critical Thinking questions often come in the form of long passages or paragraphs. This data can be time consuming to read and analyse, making it difficult to complete all the questions in the 60-minute period. Therefore, there being less questions could aid in this respect, and improve students’ marks in this section. However, it is nonetheless still important to practice these questions under timed conditions, to give time to go over and check them once the section has been completed. 

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BMAT Format

Finally, the BMAT in 2020 will be taken on a computer rather than being paper based; it is advised to liaise with your testing centre in order to establish if you will be required to bring your own laptop.

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