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Understanding the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT)

When you think about your future career and what you’ve been working towards in post-secondary school, chances are, you already know what school you want to go to for the next stage of your education. In your mind’s eye, you’ve likely seen that diploma hanging on the wall, and you have a good idea of how you want your schooling to play out to achieve your career goals. If your future is in medicine, biomedical science or dentistry, you’ll want to do your research to find out what requirements you need to fulfill to submit a complete application to your choice of educational institutions.

Several medical schools require you to book a BMAT exam and have your results submitted to them. For some schools, like veterinary medicine, this exam may be optional, but it is essential to know what the school you want to attend requires.

What is the BMAT?

The BioMedical Admissions Test is used by higher education institutions in the UK (and a growing number of schools around the world) to determine your potential in medicine, biomedical science or dentistry degree programs. The exam helps your potential education institution determine if you are ready for the program they offer and are likely to succeed in the course and subsequent career. Schools require you to book the BMAT exam at a certified BMAT test centre then request the submission of your scores to them as part of their admissions process.

There are only two dates to book the exam at a BMAT Test centre (in August and October), so it’s best to determine which test date the schools you are applying to will accept for your application.

The exam is conducted at a BMAT test centre and is two-hours long for the three sections: 1. Aptitude and Skills, 2. Scientific Knowledge and Applications and 3. Written Communication. The Aptitude and Skills section is an hour long with 35 multiple-choice questions designed to help you prove you can solve problems, understand arguments and analyze data and make inferences. The Scientific Knowledge and Applications section is 30 minutes long with 27 multiple-choice questions designed to help you prove you can apply scientific knowledge in high-school level science and mathematics. The Writing Task is 30 minutes long and includes a single writing task from a list of three options to help you prove that you can select, develop and organize your ideas and that you can communicate effectively in writing and present your ideas clearly and concisely.

There are many tools to help you prepare so that when you book your BMAT exam, you feel confident and capable. Many of these resources are free and can be found at Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website.

You’ll be able to:

a) Download and work through a practice paper (complete with answers and explanations);
b) Time yourself;
c) Access further resources to understand what guides the questions;
d) Review a preparation guide and even watch videos of previous BMAT test-takers who give their advice on how to prepare for the exam. Additionally, you can access the live chat on the web page and talk to the BMAT support team to ask any questions you may have.

Remember, there are only two sittings for the exam at BMAT test centres, so be sure to book your time and date as soon as you know you’ll be applying to medical schools.

Who takes the BMAT?

As mentioned, the BioMedical Admissions Test is for those people wanting to pursue medicine, biomedical science or dentistry school after they have completed their initial post-secondary degree education. Generally, the BMAT is a requirement for UK medical schools, but some schools outside of the UK also require it. This means that while the BMAT may be necessary, students will also have to check additional requirements and convert their Canadian schooling credentials to the UK equivalents.

For example, UK schools look for a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) with courses and grades earned. They also require (generally) A-Level subjects like Chemistry and Biology at a grade of AAA. There are other courses and grade requirements outlined by each school in their admission needs, and students must fully understand how their secondary and post-secondary schooling fits into the application process.

It can be challenging to determine how North American post-secondary grades and courses correlate with UK grades and, along with the BMAT, grades play a significant role in whether you are accepted to the school you want to study at or not. Be sure to meet the application requirements to the best of your abilities when applying.

Your BMAT scores can be sent to up to four different schools, so each application must be perfect – if you don’t meet the grade-level requirements for a certain school, don’t waste your submission there. Also, note that some schools use the BMAT score as a “cut-off” point for admissions. For example. Brighton and Sussex University only invited those students who achieved 15.1 out of 28, or higher, to an admissions interview (based on the school’s BMAT scoring method – different schools interpret the results in different ways). The cut-off will vary from year to year based on the level of scores from students applying in that admissions round. You may only take the test once in each application cycle, so be sure to register with the BMAT test centre for the right test date for your application as different schools have different test date requirements as previously noted. For example. Oxford only accepts the October exam.

Benefits of the BMAT

While people who take the BMAT exam generally do so because it is mandatory for applying to the medical school of their choice, the primary benefits of the exam are that you get a feel for whether you are ready for medical school. If you’re not sure, consider taking a BMAT prep course to help you find out where you’ll likely score on the BMAT exam and to do better on the test.

Good luck with your exam.

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