There are lots of exams to sit throughout your time at school, and it can be confusing to keep track of them all. Particularly as you get to the later stages of school, you might hear acronyms being thrown around, such as BMAT or LNAT assessments. These can sound completely foreign, and you might be wondering what they mean, and whether you will need to take them. Often, these acronyms refer to university admissions tests – this article will focus on the BMAT in particular.
The BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) is an entrance test that some universities ask students applying for medicine to take. It tests students’ critical thinking, scientific knowledge, and writing skills, and is a useful way for universities to compare all their applicants in a fair way. They often use results to decide who to invite to an interview. In most cases, the test is taken in mid-October in your school, and you receive the results a little over a month later.
The BMAT test will be discontinued in 2024. Continue reading this article to find out which exam will replace it and how entries for 2025 medical school students will work going forward.
Keep reading for all the essential information about the BMAT test, including which universities ask for it, what content it actually includes, and more!
Table of Contents
What is the BMAT?
BMAT stands for the BioMedical Admissions Test. It is used by some universities as part of the admissions process for medicine, and occasionally, related courses like biomedical sciences or dentistry.
This is true as of 2023, however, the organisation that currently runs the BMAT test has announced plans to withdraw the test. University websites will have the most up-to-date information about how they will deal with this.
Some may use other existing admissions tests or run their own version of the BMAT. However, for 2024 entry, the BMAT is being run as normal. After 2024 entry, the BMAT will no longer be used. You can find out more about changes to the BMAT if you check out this article from The Medic Portal. Also, more on this later in the article.
Universities get applications from students who are taking a whole range of different exams – A-Levels, Scottish Highers, equivalent international qualifications and more. Additionally, a lot of the information they get about these is predicted grades, rather than actual results.
Therefore, having a standard admissions test that all applicants have to take is a fairer way to compare students’ abilities. There are various admissions tests run each year, for different subjects – the BMAT is the test specific to medicine.
Medical schools may also require candidates to have interviews. You can discover tips on how to prepare for a medical interview if you check out this article from Think Student.
Have a look at this website from Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, who run the BMAT, for all the official information. Here you can also find past papers, which are the best way to practise for the test, as well as preparation advice and information about test logistics.
Who takes the BMAT?
In 2023 there were 6 universities in the UK that ask for the BMAT if you are applying to do medicine there. These are the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial College London, Brighton and Sussex, and Lancaster.
Anyone applying to these universities needs to take the BMAT as part of the medicine application process. A couple of universities might ask for the BMAT for medicine-related courses. For instance, you need to take it to apply for biomedical sciences at Oxford.
There are also a number of international universities that ask for the BMAT for medicine. For a full list of these, check out this page from the official admissions testing website.
If you are applying to other medical schools in the UK, you will likely have to sit the UCAT, another medical admissions test. For more on this test, have a look at this guide from The Medic Portal. I recommend you also check out this Think Student article that answers all your questions regarding the UCAT exams.
All medical schools are difficult to get into, due to the thorough assessments candidates have to go through. However, this article from Think Student outlines the easiest medical schools to get into in the UK!
When do you take the BMAT?
The main sitting for the BMAT is in mid-October, for example, in 2023, it was held on the 18th of October. However, there are other dates you may have heard of, such as a September sitting, that can get confusing.
There used to be two sittings of the BMAT, usually in September and November. In recent years, this has changed so there is just one exam held in October for UK universities.
For a few international universities, such as the University of Navarra, there is a March sitting of the BMAT. In 2023, this was held on the 4th of March. However, for most students who are applying to UK universities, this date isn’t a possibility – you will need to take the exam in October.
The other key dates you need to be aware of are registration deadlines. Registration is normally open throughout September. It’s really important not to miss the deadline to register, which, as an example, was the 29th of September for 2023.
You will have to register for the BMAT through your school, or a local exam centre if you are a private candidate. Speak to your school’s Exams Officer if you haven’t been given information about entering for admissions assessments.
How much does the BMAT cost to sit?
There is a cost to enter the BMAT, which was £78 in 2023 for UK students. This is to cover administration costs for the company who run the tests, including things like distributing the papers and marking costs.
However, if you think you will struggle to meet this cost, please talk to the Exams Officer at your school – you may be able to get it covered by a bursary. The cost shouldn’t stop anyone from applying to a university they want to.
Have a look at this page from the admissions testing website for more about key dates and costs for the BMAT.
What is the format of the BMAT?
Now that you know more about what the BMAT is actually for, you might be wondering what it actually consists of. The exam is two hours long, taken on paper, and is made up of three sections.
Section 1 is made up of 32 multiple choice, and you get one hour to complete it. This section is mainly made up of questions that test your logical and critical thinking and skills, rather than requiring any specific knowledge. You might be asked to pick the correct conclusion that can be drawn from a paragraph of information or solve a logic problem.
Section 2 has 27 multiple choice questions that you get 30 minutes to answer. This section tests your scientific knowledge and understanding. You will get questions from a range of subjects, such as biology, chemistry, physics and maths.
The content you actually need to know for this section is at GCSE level, but the way you need to apply this knowledge to answer questions can be more advanced. This section can also get really time pressured, so doing timed practice papers is key to prepare!
Finally, section 3 is an essay question that you get 30 minutes to write. You get a choice of three questions and pick one to answer. This is to test your ability to form an argument and express your ideas clearly.
Many students worry about the essay section, as it is very different to the scientific subjects many of them are currently studying. However, it’s not something to fear.
Most applicants are in the same boat, having little experience with scientific essays. Additionally, you can only write one page, so the focus is on clearly explaining a few points rather than extended essay writing.
This article from Medify breaks down each of the sections in more detail if you want more information.
How is the BMAT marked?
BMAT scores can be confusing. You might expect that, for the first two sections, you get a score that is just how many multiple questions you got right. However, this isn’t the case!
Firstly, each section is scored separately. The scores are actually scaled, so you get a number between 1 to 9, with 9 being the best, for each of the first two sections. You can get decimal scores too. For example, a 5.4 for section one, and 4.9 for section 2.
Although the scale is 1 to 9, very few people get scores at the extremes. The average is roughly 4 to 5, but even for the most selective universities, you shouldn’t need to get more than a 6. This can be helpful to know when doing practice papers – you absolutely don’t need to be aiming for 8s every time!
Then, for the essay section, you get a number 1 to 5 for the content of the essay, with 5 being the best. You also get a letter, A to E, with A being the best, for the quality of your spelling, grammar and so on.
Check out this article from The Medic Portal for more information about how BMAT scoring works.
When do you get your BMAT results?
Nobody likes waiting for test results! However, once you’ve completed the test, try to put it out of your mind for a while – there’s nothing more you need to do for it.
BMAT scores are normally released 5 to 6 weeks after the test date. For example, in 2023, results will be available on the 24th of November – around 5 weeks after the actual test on the 18th of October.
Although the multiple-choice questions are quick for a computer to mark, the essay section needs an actual examiner to read it and give it a score. This process takes a little longer, which is why results aren’t released as quickly as many students would like!
You can access your results online, using login details to the Metritests website. These will be given to you on the day you sit the test. Make sure not to lose these details, or you won’t be able to see your score!
In most cases, your results will be automatically shared with the universities you have applied to that ask for the BMAT, so there is nothing you need to do. However, in a couple of cases – mainly for international universities – you might have to manually share your results via the website.
This page from the official admissions testing website has more information about this, as well as receiving your results in general.
How do universities use your BMAT score?
Every university has a different policy about how they use the BMAT in their admissions process. For the most up-to-date information – including what adjustments they make as the BMAT stops being run – it’s best to check individual university websites.
As of 2023, there are 6 universities in the UK that use the BMAT. There was a 7th – the University of Leeds – but they have switched to the UCAT from the 2024 entry cycle.
Brighton and Sussex use a cut off score, which is at least 3 in sections 1 and 2, and 2.5C in section 3. Applicants are then ranked based on their BMAT score, with the highest being invited to an interview.
Imperial College London also uses a cut off score. These vary each year but are usually between 4 and 5 for sections 1 and 2, and 2.5C in section 3.
For Lancaster University, applicants are ranked based on their numerical scores to decide who gets invited to interview. As a rough guide, you want to be aiming for a total of 10.5 or more between all three sections (for example, 4.5 + 4.5 + 3A would be a score of 12).
UCL and the University of Cambridge also don’t have minimum scores, but take your BMAT into account alongside personal statements, predicted grades and so on. You want to be aiming for around a 5 or 6 in sections 1 and 2 for these universities.
The University of Oxford also doesn’t have a cut off score, but uses BMAT scores and GCSE results to offer interviews. Once again, a high 5 or 6 is a really good score to aim for. Oxford also places more emphasis on the first two sections – 40% for each, and 20% for section 3.
While this gives you a whistlestop tour of how BMAT is used in admissions processes, make sure to check out university websites for full details, or alternatively, check out this article from UniAdmissions for an overview.
What is happening to the BMAT in 2024?
The organisation that runs BMAT announced that it will be discontinued in 2024. So for 2025 entries it will no longer be available for students to take. The majority, if not all 6 universities mentioned above, will likely move over to the UCAT assessment. You can learn more about the UCAT assessment here on The Medical Portal’s website.
Why is the BMAT being discontinued?
Cambridge Assessment has ultimately decided to discontinue the BMAT test from 2024 onwards. They say this is because the test was too difficult and not cost effective for them to keep running. You can read more about this in this article by The Medical Portal. This means that for medical school entries for 2025 and on, the BMAT will no longer exist. Instead, students will likely have to take the UCAT assessment. You can read more on the UCAT assessment in this Think Student article.