Most people who apply to medicine will take the UKCAT entrance exam, particularly if transitioning to a medical degree from A levels. If you want to go to a few specific schools including Leeds and Oxford, you'll take the BMAT instead - graduate applicants might see it used in lieu of the UKCAT for some universities too, depending on the institution. Here's my 5 tips for BMAT success.
1. Do it a year in advance
I wanted to get this one out of the way early, because it won’t be applicable to many of you. But if you get the opportunity, book yourself in for the BMAT a year early and get some experience of having taken it. It doesn’t matter at all how you do, but when you leave you can write down everything you remember about how you felt, how you managed each section and you’ll be much more prepared in that sense than someone who’s taken it blind, which could remove some anxiety when test day comes around.
2. Own Your Weaknesses and Tackle Them Early
Unlike the UKCAT, the BMAT actually tests many principles of scientific understanding, which can be drawn from Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, to GCSE standard. Do as many practice questions as you can and establish what your weakest sections are first, so you know where to apply your focus. In my case, studying a biology degree, there was little sense in revising GCSE biology, but it turned out I had forgotten some core principles of chemistry. Use this more methodological approach which will save you time and money when purchasing revision aids.
3. Practice for time pressure
Having taken both the UKCAT and the BMAT, the key difference I found between the two was that the BMAT was more intensively time pressured, at least across the first two sections. Whereas the UKCAT was more about intuitively being able to answer questions, I thought that the BMAT questions required more effort and working out time to reach an answer, with the presented multiple choice answers seeming more feasible. Because of this, learn to work quickly and accurately with calculations - the practice exams on the BMAT website are a great way to do this.
4. Prioritise Questions
In line with the previous point of advice, sometimes you will come up against a question that you know will take you more time than it is worth. Section 1, for example gives you 60 minutes to answer 35 questions, meaning you should be completing a question (ideally correctly) every 1.7 minutes or so. If you think a question is going to take longer than 1.7 of your precious minutes, there is no shame in skipping it and moving on - in fact it’s probably very sensible. Identify questions you know you’ll get right first, answer those and then tackle the rest.
"If you think a question is going to take longer than 1.7 of your precious minutes, there is no shame in skipping it and moving on -
in fact it’s probably very sensible"
5. Writing Section: Target Keywords
Virtually every single time, Section 3 will test your understanding of a presented quote or phrase and then ask you to address it, usually explaining the meaning followed by supportive or contradictory arguments. Because you only have 30 minutes, keep things relevant to the point at hand is of paramount importance, and making sure you nail down the exact definitions of words in the presented material during the planning stage is key to success.
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