The Parent’s Guide to the BMAT

If your child is thinking of applying to study Medicine, understanding the process will be important as a parent to allow you to best support your child.

Looking for BMAT guidance?

The BMAT has now been discontinued. All applicants for undergraduate medicine in the UK will be required to sit the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) for their application. Check out our wide selection of Free UCAT Guides to get started with your preparation.

So you’re a parent and your son/daughter tells you they have to take the BMAT. Naturally, you look around the internet trying to find information about it, but it’s hard to find a single website that explains the exam in a coherent manner. We know this because we’ve had plenty of phone calls from parents confused about the BMAT, and after explaining how it works many times, we thought it would be helpful to write up an article about it. Let’s answer your questions.

What is the BMAT?

BMAT stands for BioMedical Admissions Test. It’s a 2-hour exam, taken by Medical (and some dentistry) school applicants every year at the start of October. The exam is split into 3 sections – (1) Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, (2) Science and Maths, and (3) Essay. You can find detailed information about each section in our Free BMAT Guides here

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Who has to take the BMAT?

We’ve written an extensive article on the subject here. The short answer is that students applying to study Medicine at Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Leeds, Lancaster and Brighton & Sussex need to take the BMAT. Dentistry applicants at Leeds will also be taking the BMAT. 

If you’re reading this from Singapore or The Netherlands, you need to take the BMAT if you’re applying to Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (Singapore) or Leiden University (Netherlands).

How much does the BMAT cost?

We couldn’t possibly put it clearer than the official BMAT website does here – BMAT Dates and Costs. Just to summarise, it costs £75 for students from the UK (and EU) and £100 for students from the rest of the world.

How do you prepare for the BMAT?

Attending the BMAT Crash Course is a pretty good shout if your son/daughter is hoping to score highly in the BMAT. Other than that, practice papers are the way forward under exam conditions. It’s important to learn the content and exam technique first and then move on to practice questions. 

What can I do to help my child prepare?

Enrol them on our Crash Course! Other than that, unless you’re a Critical Thinking/Maths/Science teacher, there’s probably not an awful lot you can do personally. Depending on your parenting style, you might want to encourage/force them to start preparing by September (two months is plenty of time to prepare). Also, if they write practice essays for Section 3 (and they should), it would be helpful if you read through them and give them constructive criticism.

What's a good BMAT score?

The BMAT scoring system is a little weird and confusing. Section 1 and 2 are graded from 1 – 9, and Section 3 is graded out of 5 with a letter from A-E. A score of around 5/9 is the average mark and tends to translate to around 50% of the questions correct. 

We consider a score in the 6s “pretty good”. A score in the 7s is “exceptional”, and a score above that is so good that it’s almost unheard of. Importantly, to get a score of 9/9 (and therefore, to be in the top 10 in the world), you don’t actually need 100%. For example, in one year, 29/35 on Section 1 was equivalent to 9/9. It’s an odd scaling process that we explain more in-depth in our BMAT Scoring and Results Article

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