The BMAT Test: Overview and Format
The Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is an aptitude test used as part of the admissions process for some medical, dental, and veterinary schools in the United Kingdom, Europe, and Asia. The exam is designed to assess an applicant’s scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills, which are essential for success in these highly competitive fields.
The BMAT is a two-hour, pen-and-paper exam that consists of three sections: Section 1 tests critical thinking and problem-solving skills; Section 2 assesses the candidate’s knowledge and application of scientific concepts; and Section 3 evaluates their ability to develop and communicate a well-reasoned argument on a given ethical or social issue related to medicine or healthcare.
Section 1 is a 60-minute test consisting of 35 multiple-choice questions that are designed to assess critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The questions cover a wide range of topics, including mathematics, physics, and general scientific principles. The purpose of this section is to evaluate the candidate’s ability to analyse and interpret data, recognize patterns, and apply logical reasoning to solve problems.
Section 2 is a 30-minute test consisting of 27 multiple-choice questions that evaluate the candidate’s knowledge and application of scientific concepts. The questions cover three subject areas: Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The Biology questions focus on topics such as genetics, cellular biology, and anatomy, while the Chemistry questions cover topics like atomic structure, chemical reactions, and organic chemistry. The Physics questions evaluate the candidate’s knowledge of topics like mechanics, electricity, and waves. All are pitched at high school level.
Section 3 is a 30-minute test consisting of one essay question that assesses the candidate’s ability to develop and communicate a well-reasoned argument on a given ethical or social issue related to medicine or healthcare. The candidate is given a choice of three questions, each covering a different topic, and is required to select one and write a clear and concise essay. The essay should demonstrate the candidate’s ability to develop a logical argument and provide evidence to support their position.
UCAT Test: Overview and Format
The University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) is an admissions test used by many medical schools in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. The exam is designed to assess an applicant’s cognitive abilities and personal attributes that are essential for success in medical training and practice. The UCAT exam is taken online and is a computer-based test.
The UCAT is composed of five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement. The sections are designed to test different cognitive abilities and personal attributes.
The Verbal Reasoning section assesses the candidate’s ability to read and interpret complex information, extract relevant information, and draw accurate conclusions. The section consists of 44 questions that are presented in a multiple-choice format. The questions are based on passages of text that may be scientific or nonscientific.
The Decision Making section evaluates the candidate’s ability to analyse and evaluate information and make sound decisions based on that information. The section consists of 29 questions that are presented in a multiple-choice format. The questions may be based on numerical, textual, or graphical data.
The Quantitative Reasoning section assesses the candidate’s ability to interpret and manipulate numerical and statistical data. The section consists of 36 questions that are presented in a multiple-choice format. The questions may be based on basic mathematical principles, graphs, or tables.
The Abstract Reasoning section evaluates the candidate’s ability to recognize patterns and relationships between different objects or shapes. The section consists of 55 questions that are presented in a multiple-choice format. The questions may be based on diagrams or shapes that are presented in different orientations.
The Situational Judgement section assesses the candidate’s ability to identify and evaluate different ethical, social, and professional situations that may arise in a medical environment. The section consists of 69 questions that are presented in a multiple-choice format. The questions may be based on scenarios that are related to communication, teamwork, ethical dilemmas, and patient care.
Content Comparison between UCAT and BMAT
As stated, the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) and UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) are both exams used in the admissions process for medical schools in the United Kingdom. While both exams are designed to assess cognitive abilities and personal attributes that are essential for success in medical training and practice, there are some key differences between the two.
Content and Sections
The BMAT exam is divided into three sections: Section 1 assesses aptitude and skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and data analysis. Section 2 assesses scientific knowledge and application, while Section 3 assesses the ability to write coherently and effectively. The UCAT exam, on the other hand, is divided into five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement.
The BMAT exam tests a candidate’s scientific knowledge and skills, while the UCAT exam tests a candidate’s cognitive abilities and personal attributes. Thus, while both exams are important in determining a candidate’s eligibility for medical school, they test different abilities and skills.
Time and Duration
The BMAT exam has three sections that are taken in one sitting, while the UCAT exam has five sections that are taken in one sitting. However, both are two hours long.
Preparation and Practice
Both the BMAT and UCAT exams require preparation and practice. The BMAT exam requires a candidate to have a good understanding of scientific knowledge and skills, while the UCAT exam requires a candidate to have strong cognitive abilities and personal attributes. As such, BMAT prep is likely to be geared more towards knowledge base, whilst UCAT preparation course will be geared towards analytical skills and ability.
The cost of the BMAT exam is £75 for candidates taking the exam in the UK, while the cost of the UCAT exam is £70 for candidates taking the exam in the UK. The cost of both exams may vary for candidates taking the exam outside the UK.
The BMAT and UCAT exams are used by different medical schools in the UK for admissions purposes. The BMAT exam is used by medical schools like the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, UCL, and Imperial College London. The UCAT exam is used by the vast majority of UK medical schools – including the University of Edinburgh, the University of Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle, and others.
Should I sit the BMAT or the UCAT? What are the factors that affect this decision?
The principal consideration to make is which universities use which test. The following schools use the UCAT:
Kent and Medway
King’s College London
Queen Mary, London
As such, it is highly likely that at least one institution to which you apply will make use of the UCAT. However, some students will still seek to apply only to BMAT institutions – e.g. applying to Oxford, Cambridge, UCL and Imperial, or perhaps adding Leeds as a slightly less ‘academic’ choice. That said, your choice of exam should not be solely decided by the schools that use each – you should also consider where your strengths lie. As stated above, the core difference between the two tests is in the fact that the BMAT has both a Sciences component, and a written component. In particular, remember that many students will not have taken A Level Maths or Physics. Therefore, the following part of the syllabus, covering Physics, could prove difficult:
P1. Electricity P1.1 Electrostatics: a. Know and understand that insulators can be charged by friction. b. Know and understand that charging is caused by gain or loss of electrons. c. Know and understand that like charges repel and unlike charges attract. d. Understand applications and hazards associated with electrostatics, including the role of earthing. P1.2 Electric circuits: a. Know and recognise the basic circuit symbols and diagrams, including: cell, battery, light source, resistor, variable resistor, ammeter, voltmeter, switch, diode. b. Understand the difference between alternating current (ac) and direct current (dc). c. Understand the difference between conductors and insulators, and recall examples of each type. d. Know and be able to apply: current = time charge , I= t Q e. Know and understand the use of voltmeters and ammeters. f. Know and be able to apply: resistance = current voltage , R = I V g. Recall and interpret V–I graphs for a fixed resistor and a filament lamp. h. Know the properties of NTC (negative temperature coefficient) thermistors, LDRs (light-dependent resistors) and ideal diodes.
You must therefore ask yourself – do you want to spend weeks revising long-forgotten GCSE knowledge (or even AS level knowledge that will be fresh), or do you want to instead focus on an exam that tests your ability only, rather than knowledge that other students might be stronger on, simply due to the subjects that they have chosen? Choose wisely, as these entrance exams can be the difference between being invited to interview or failing to make the cut.