In the admission process for medical and dental university applications, except for great grades and a good personal statement, applicants are required to take UCAT and BMAT tests. Both are admission exams with the goal to give more insights to university tutors in the application process. But, what is the difference between UCAT and BMAT?
Since both medicine and dentistry are highly competitive, tests are very crucial.
Read in this guide what is the difference between UCAT and BMTA tests.
Understanding the UCAT and BMAT Tests
The UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) and BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test) are standardised aptitude tests used in the admissions process by universities in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand for medicine, dentistry, biomedical sciences, and related healthcare degree programmes. Both tests aim to evaluate a candidate’s skills and aptitudes needed for healthcare careers, but they differ in format, content, and usage.
UCAT vs BMAT: Format and Structure
The UCAT is a computer-based test delivered via Pearson VUE test centres. It contains multiple-choice questions (except the Situational Judgement section) and is an adaptive test, meaning the difficulty level changes based on one’s performance.
Read the full guide UCAT Test – What is, Key Dates And How to Prepare
The BMAT is a pen-and-paper test conducted at authorized test centres. It contains multiple-choice questions for Sections 1 and 2, and essay writing for Section 3. It is a non-adaptive test, so all candidates receive the same set of questions.
Read the full guide BMAT Test – What is, Dates And How to Prepare
Note: From 2024 BMAT test will no longer be accepted.
The UCAT has five sections:
- Verbal Reasoning – Assesses the ability to critically evaluate information presented in written passages. Focuses on comprehension, interpretation, analysis and inference. There are 44 multiple-choice questions with a total time of 21 minutes.
- Decision Making – Measures ability to make sound judgments and evaluate arguments. Contains 29 scenario-based multiple-choice questions with a total time of 31 minutes.
- Quantitative Reasoning – Tests numeracy, mathematical interpretation and data analysis skills. Has 36 multiple-choice questions involving math concepts like addition, percentages, ratios, sequences and probabilities. The total time is 24 minutes.
- Abstract Reasoning – Evaluates the ability to infer relationships from information using convergent and divergent thinking. Contains 55 questions with abstract shapes and patterns. The total time is 13 minutes.
- Situational Judgement – Assesses the ability to make appropriate decisions and behaviours in workplace scenarios. Contains 69 scenario-based multiple-choice questions. The total time is 26 minutes.
The BMAT has three sections:
- Section 1: Aptitude and Skills – Contains 35 multiple choice questions testing problem-solving, understanding arguments, data analysis and inference skills. The time allowed is 60 minutes.
- Section 2: Scientific Knowledge and Applications – Assesses the application of scientific and mathematical concepts. Contains 27 multiple-choice questions on topics like biology, chemistry, physics and math. The time allowed is 30 minutes.
- Section 3: Writing Task – Tests ability to organise thoughts and communicate effectively. Candidates must write a short essay in response to a given prompt. The time allowed is 30 minutes.
Scoring and Test Duration
Each UCAT section is scored between 300 to 900 points. The total score out of 3,600 points is calculated by adding up section scores. Universities are provided with additional metrics like deciles and percentiles to facilitate candidate comparison.
Sections 1 and 2 are marked from 1 to 9, with 9 being the highest. Section 3 essays are graded A to E, with A being the highest. The maximum total score is 9.9. Universities use scoring combinations like Section 1 + 2, Section 1 + 3, Total BMAT score etc. depending on their admissions criteria.
UCAT vs BMAT: Test Duration
The total duration of the UCAT exam is 2 hours. BMAT lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes in total. Both are intense exams requiring focus, motivation and stamina.
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UCAT vs BMAT: Preparation
UCAT Preparation Tips
Read below some general preparation tips for the UCAT test.
- Use official practice materials on UCAT’s website to get familiar with the test format and style of questions.
- Improve verbal reasoning skills by reading passages across diverse topics to expand vocabulary.
- For decision-making, review arguments and practice spotting assumptions.
- Strengthen quantitative reasoning by regularly solving math problems under timed conditions.
- For abstract reasoning, work on recognizing patterns and sequences quickly.
- For situational judgement, learn appropriate responses by analyzing given scenarios.
BMAT Preparation Tips
General BMTA preparation tips for medicine, vet and dentistry applicants:
- Use past papers and practice materials from Cambridge Assessment to get test exposure.
- Read extensively, especially science journals and publications, to build up subject knowledge. Make flashcards for important concepts.
- Improve analytical thinking and problem–solving skills with online tests and practice questions.
- For essay writing, practice planning and structuring essay responses under timed conditions.
- Take mock tests regularly to test stamina and to get comfortable with test conditions.
Who Uses UCAT and BMAT?
What Universities use UCAT
The UCAT is used by:
- 29 universities in the UK including medical schools at Oxford University, Imperial, King’s College London etc.
- In 2022, over 35,000 candidates registered for the UCAT exam worldwide according to UCAT statistics.
What Universities use BMAT
The BMAT is required by:
- 7 medical schools in the UK including Cambridge, Imperial, Lancaster University, Brighton And Sussex Medical School and UCL.
- In 2021, around 13,000 candidates sat for the BMAT exam globally based on Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing data.
Universities and Courses Requiring UCAT or BMAT
Some universities accept both, while others specify one or the other.
- King’s College London – UCAT required for Medicine.
- University of Edinburgh – BMAT required for Medicine.
- University of Manchester – UCAT required for Medicine and Dentistry.
- University of Southampton – BMAT or UCAT accepted for Biomedical Sciences.
- University of Cambridge – BMAT required for Medicine
For overseas students aiming to study medicine or related degrees in the UK, thorough research is required to determine whether the BMAT, UCAT or both are needed for their chosen universities and courses.
Performance on these tests is often a crucial part of the admissions process, so candidates need to strategise and sufficiently prepare.