So, you’ve decided to apply to a university that requires the BMAT exam. For those of you that don’t know which these are, here is a list of the universities in the UK:
- Brighton & Sussex Medical School
- University of Cambridge
- Imperial College London
- Keele University
- Lancaster University
- Leeds’ School of Medicine
- University of Oxford Medical School
- University College London
Studying for the BMAT
- Start early. I cannot stress this point enough – the BMAT covers a lot of content and although a lot of it is IGCSE level, it has to cater for all exam boards and so it’s very likely that there will be some things that you didn’t cover before. Also, the style of questions is very different and it’s something you can only get good at with practice – lots of practice. How early should you start? I would say that the summer after AS Levels is a good time to start with light revision and the increase the intensity at the start of September.
- Understand the exam. This one is fairly obvious, but it’s hard to study for an exam when you aren’t sure of what it will actually look like on the exam day. In the same way that you need to know were and when the exam will be taking place, you should know the ins and outs of the paper itself. The BMAT is quite unique in its structure, timing and question style. For example, you should know that the first two sections are entirely multiple choice and that the third section is essay-based. Also, it’s extremely important to know how much time you have for each question, how many questions there are in each topic and what is covered in each of the three sections. I have compiled a short summary here:
|Description||Time given||Number of questions||Time per question|
|Section 1||Aptitude and Skills||60 minutes||35 questions||1.5 minutes|
|Section 2||ScientificKnowledge and Application||30 minutes||27 questions||1 minute|
|Section 3||Writing||30 minutes||1 questions||30 minutes (10 minutes planning,20 minutes writing)|
- Follow the syllabus and Assumed Knowledge guide . These two resources are provided by the organisation writing the BMAT exams, so you MUST use them. They are written by the same people who will be writing your exam! The syllabus provides a detailed outline of every single topic that a question can be based on, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. The Assumed Knowledge guide is a set of notes that corresponds (almost perfectly) to the syllabus and gives you explanations, examples and details of the knowledge you are expected to have, duh? I would advise that you work through all of the pages, excluding only those that you are 100% sure on, such as addition and subtraction. Even if you think you know a topic because you’ve covered it before, the BMAT might require slightly more or less information on it. Of course, whether you will be able to get through the whole guide will depend on how late you leave your revision until. That’s why I suggested starting early.
- Do as much practice as possible. This is probably the single best way to prepare the the BMAT exam (or any exam for that matter). Due to the very specific question style and timing, the best thing to do is to get your hands on as many practice questions as possible and do them ALL. The questions could come from BMAT books, online courses, worksheets, IGCSE exam papers (multiple choice), TSA papers and of course the OFFICIAL BMAT past papers! I would recommend leaving the BMAT past papers for doing under timed conditions and using all the other resources more loosely i.e. to familiarise yourself with the question style and topics.
- Prepare for all three sections. All three sections will be seen by the universities so don’t neglect one because you think it is harder/easier than the others. If you find that you really hate writing essays, make sure that you still practice Section 3 questions. If you find that you are naturally very good at writing essays, don’t neglect Section 3 completely and rely on ‘natural abilities’ in the exam – just make sure to devote slightly less time to this section. I have written a blog post about each of the three BMAT sections and how to tackle them here: Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3.
With so many resources directly targeted at preparing for the BMAT, there’s really no excuse not the make the most of them. There are many free resources, so money should not be a big problem. Also, make sure to ask others who are taking the BMAT if you can borrow their books and make photocopies or ask people who sat the BMAT in previous years if you can borrow their books. Obviously, you can also buy copies on Amazon or in a local bookstore, but I’d definitely recommend asking around first. The resources that I used and found to be most useful were:
- Official BMAT syllabus
- Official BMAT preparation guide
- Official past papers
- Book: Preparing for the BMAT: The official guide to the Biomedical Admissions Test New Edition
- Book: Get into Medical School – 700 BMAT Practice Questions
- Book: Mastering the BMAT
- Book: The Ultimate BMAT Guide – 600 Practice Questions
- GCSE Science Exam Papers (try multiple exam boards)
- Section 2 Assumed Knowledge Guide
Sitting the exam: Tips and trick
- Focus on time management.
- Each section is completely independent. If one section goes badly, forget it and move on to the next without letting yourself get disheartened. You can be dissapointed in yourself once all three sections are finished. After all, it’s better to have only one section go badly rather than all three!
- Start early
- Understand the structure of the exam
- Work through the syllabus and Assumed Knowledge guide
- Do as much practice as possible
- BMAT revision books
- Online courses
- PAST PAPERS!!