Why Are Medical Schools Dropping The BMAT In 2024?

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If you’re applying to study medicine in 2024 (for 2025 Entry), then you may have heard of the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). You may have researched the entry requirements for certain medical schools in the UK, or perhaps someone you know has taken it previously. However, you won’t be sitting the BMAT as it’s basically been scrapped. 

What’s happening to the BMAT, what’s replacing it and how will it affect your application? Let’s find out: 

What is the BMAT

If you want a full overview of the BMAT, check out our BMAT Basics guide to go in-depth into it. However, here’s a quick summary as to what it is (or was). BMAT stands for Biomedical Admissions Test and was used by 8 different medical schools in the UK, as well as several international med schools.

The BMAT has a great focus on subject-specific skills compared to the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), which is designed to test more general skills. The BMAT is made up of three Sections:

  • Section 1: Thinking Skills (32 questions, 1 hour)
  • Section 2: Scientific Knowledge and Applications (27 questions, 30 minutes)
  • Section 3: Writing Task (1 essay, 30 minutes)

Each section is marked individually, with the universities and applicants having both separate and combined scores available to them. 

This admissions test had been in place since 2001, but 2023 was the last year in which applicants were required to sit it. So, why is this happening and what test will medicine applicants need to sit in 2024? 

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Why is the BMAT being scrapped?

The removal of the BMAT was announced all the way back in November of 2022 via a blog post on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing CAAT) website. CAAT was the administrator of the BMAT, as well as various other admissions tests mostly used by Oxford and Cambridge, but it was announced that they would no longer be handling the majority of these university admissions tests, including the BMAT. 

The reason behind this decision was seemingly down to finances, as the official announcement of the tests’ removal referenced that they were “operationally unsustainable”. The BMAT did require applicants to pay a fee of £75 (for UK applicants), but this seems to have not been enough for CAAT to continue operating it (other cancelled admissions tests were ran without a fee). 

Given how few medical schools in the UK used the BMAT anyway, some may have seen it as pointless to run, especially with a far more popular alternative available. 

What's Replacing the BMAT?

While the answer to this question may seem obvious, there was a point at which some uncertainty remained about how universities would approach this change. That obvious answer was, of course, for the 8 BMAT universities to move over to the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT), as it’s by far the most widely used UK admissions test not just for medicine, but in general.

The UCAT has been a key part of any medicine application for decades now and shows no sign of stopping, so surely all of the medical schools should simply move to that, preventing applicants from needing to complete two admissions tests in an already busy and stressful period. 

Some speculated that Oxford and Cambridge may develop an alternative admissions test that mimics the BMAT (due to their emphasis on scientific teaching), but this hasn’t happened.  We have now heard from each of the 8 BMAT universities and they have all confirmed that they will be moving to the UCAT for the 2024/25 admissions cycle. These 8 universities are:

How Does This Affect My Medicine Application?

Now that we know that there is no replacement for the BMAT being created, the primary affect on your application is that you will only have to sit one admissions test no matter which universities you apply for in the UK. 

This will come as a relief to many people, not only because it will reduce the amount of work needed to prepare for two admissions test, but also because many prefer the UCAT to the BMAT.  The BMAT was always designed to be tough, requiring mastery in 3 completely different disciplines compared to the UCAT’s focus on general thinking skills. 

While applicants should now need to spend less time overall on their preparation, this doesn’t mean that your workload has been halved. The removal of the BMAT is a blessing in a lot of ways, as it means you can now spend more time perfecting your skills in each sub-test of the UCAT. Very few people are exceptional at all 5 sections, but having more time to work on your weaker areas will mean that you have a better chance of getting a high overall score. 

What Should I Do Now?

The answer to this is easy; start your UCAT prep! It may feel like you have months before you start worrying about your application, but the UCAT will come quicker than you expect. Remember that UCAT testing starts in July, so starting your prep soon will help you feel ready by the time the first tests are sat. 

Sitting the UCAT sooner rather than later is beneficial to applicants, as July/August are usually pretty free for medicine applicants when compared to September. Sitting the test during these less stressful months will help you go in with a clear, well-prepped mind. Then once it’s done, you can begin work on your personal statement, final exam revision and, hopefully, your interview prep. 

There are plenty of UCAT resources available to get you started on your prep. We would recommend starting with our selection of free UCAT Guides, which cover everything from the basics to scoring, as well as in-depth looks at each sub-test. If you’re looking for something a bit more comprehensive, then check out our UCAT Bundle to discover how our support can help you drastically boost your score!

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