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The Ultimate Guide to Passing the UCAT and BMAT: Expert Advice and Insider Tips

The Ultimate Guide to Passing the UCAT and BMAT: Expert Advice and Insider Tips

Passing the UCAT, the BMAT – or both – is vital to your chances of securing a place at medical school in the UK, and elsewhere. Here, we will work through each test in turn, and include tips for both. 

UCAT Guide

UCAT Guide

The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is an aptitude test used by universities in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand for selecting candidates for undergraduate courses in medicine, dentistry, and healthcare. The test aims to evaluate candidates’ cognitive abilities, including critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.

The UCAT exam consists of five sections, including verbal reasoning, decision making, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning, and situational judgement. The verbal reasoning section tests a student’s ability to understand, interpret, and evaluate written information. The decision making section tests their ability to make sound decisions in complex situations. The quantitative reasoning section tests ability to solve numerical problems using mathematical concepts, whilst the abstract reasoning section tests a student’s ability to identify patterns and relationships in abstract shapes and symbols. The situational judgement section tests one’s ability to make effective and ethical decisions in hypothetical situations.

The UCAT exam is computer-based and consists of multiple-choice questions. The total duration of the exam is two hours, and each section is timed separately. Candidates must answer as many questions as possible within the allocated time for each section.

Many universities use the UCAT score as a selection criterion alongside other factors such as academic qualifications, personal statements, and interviews, whilst some will use the UCAT alone when ranking students for interview, meaning that a high UCAT score can significantly increase a candidate’s chances of receiving an offer for admission.

Preparing for the UCAT exam requires time, effort, and a strategic approach. Candidates can prepare for the exam by familiarising themselves with the test format and content, developing a study plan, practising time management skills, and taking advantage of UCAT preparation courses and workshops. More on this information is contained below.

BMAT Guide

The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is a standardised exam used by universities as part of their admissions process for certain healthcare-related courses. The exam is used primarily in the United Kingdom, but is also used by some international universities.

The BMAT is designed to assess a candidate’s aptitude for scientific study in the fields of medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science. The exam is split into three sections: Section 1 assesses aptitude and skills in problem solving and critical thinking, Section 2 tests scientific knowledge and application, and Section 3 evaluates the candidate’s ability to communicate ideas effectively in writing.

Section 1 consists of 35 multiple choice questions, and the questions are based on problem-solving, critical thinking, data analysis, and inference. The section is designed to assess a candidate’s ability to think logically and solve problems under time constraints. Candidates have 60 minutes to complete this section.

Section 2 is also a multiple-choice section, consisting of 27 questions that assess a candidate’s scientific knowledge and application. The section covers topics such as biology, chemistry, physics, and maths. Candidates are given 30 minutes to complete this section.

Section 3 is a writing task that is designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to communicate ideas effectively in writing. Candidates are given a choice of three essay titles, of which they must choose one to write about. The essay can be about any topic, as long as it is related to science or medicine. Candidates are given 30 minutes to complete this section.

The BMAT is used by a number of universities in the United Kingdom, including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, University College London, and the University of Leeds. 

The BMAT is considered a very challenging exam, as it combines core knowledge of the Sciences, with writing ability and analytical skill. There are a number of resources available to help candidates prepare for the exam, including sample questions and past papers, and of course students can also attend courses and workshops that are designed specifically to help them prepare for the BMAT – on which we have included more information below. 

UCAT Tips

First, you must understand the format – as stated, the UCAT consists of five sections, namely Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement. Knowing the format of the test is vital, and it helps you prepare accordingly. Each section has a unique set of challenges, so understanding what to expect in each section will help you prepare better. You should be confident in managing your time – the UCAT is highly time-pressured, so it’s essential to practise working quickly and efficiently under time constraints. Time management skills are also helpful in deciding which questions to answer first and which to leave for later. Through practising, you can understand exactly how long to spend on each question – and when you need to move on to the next. You should have a set strategy for each section of the UCAT – this will help you save time, ensure that you avoid mistakes, and maximise your score. You should also ensure that you are confident with the test interface – the UCAT is computer-based, and it’s essential to become familiar with the user interface before taking the exam. Familiarising yourself can help you navigate through the test quickly and easily. Using a UCAT Question Bank that accurately replicates the test – like that available through our online UCAT question bank – will ensure that you are confident and efficient in the test itself.

BMAT Tips

Just as with the UCAT, you should know the format – before test day, ensure that you know the number of questions and sections, know the time that you can spend on each question, and the different types of questions. This will ensure that you can most effectively and efficiently approach each part and each question. Have your time management system perfected – you have only two hours to complete the entire test, and therefore you must manage your time effectively. Allocate time for each section, and stick to those timings. Don’t spend too much time on a single question or section, as this may result in running out of time later on – you’re better off losing marks on a question that you simply cannot do, and having the time to then secure marks in questions that you do know how to work through.
Unlike with the UCAT, you will need to revise scientific concepts – Section 2 of the BMAT is designed to assess your scientific knowledge and application. This section includes scientific questions from biology, physics, and chemistry. Make sure to refer to the official BMAT syllabus.
Lastly, you should develop a strategy for each part of the exam. For Section 1, you must find that a particular method of spotting keywords works well for you, whilst in Section 2 you might notice that being able to quickly recognise a topic ensures that you are able to remove some options immediately, increasing your chances of selecting the correct option.

UCAT Online Course

Our online course is designed to provide students with an interactive and convenient way to learn and practise for the UCAT, with a range of resources, such as study materials, practice tests, and guidance from experienced UCAT trainers. All our content is updated for 2023 to ensure that it is in-line with the latest updates to the test, and you are able to practise when you want, and work at your preferred pace, with the assistance of more than 40 prep videos, and more than 10 hours of preparation tips and content. Very few courses have the breadth of questions that we do at BlackStone Tutors, or as accurate a replica of the real UCAT exam format. An online course should be deployed as a core part of your learning – used from the outset, to ensure that you are able to identify areas of strength and weakness.

BMAT Online Course

A BMAT online course should offer all of the following:

– All of the insights and techniques that you gain access to through the online course, taught directly by an experienced tutor team. This makes sure that you are able to understand the techniques being applied, and will also provide you with the chance to ask questions about them and better learn how to deploy them yourself.

Tutors who have themselves sat the BMAT, and have robust experience in tutoring students in the examination as well. This ensures that your preparation is guided, and areas of weakness, or blindspots in your preparation, are addressed. Our tutors have all sat the BMAT and attend or attended a select few top BMAT universities – Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, and UCL.

– Teaching that is focused on high-yield topics and areas. This will ensure that you are able to not just learn a significant amount over the course of the day itself, but that you are better able to understand where to direct your energy as you continue to prepare in the following days and weeks.

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