The Bio-Medical Admissions Test, or BMAT, has been a constant feature in the UK Medical School application process for many years. So it’s no surprise that news of the BMAT being cancelled from 2024 has left a lot of people feeling uncertain.
Read this blog to find out all of the facts on what’s currently happening with the BMAT – as well as what it all means for your Medicine application!
Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (the organisation which runs the BMAT and lots of other tests) announced in November 2022 that from 2024, they will stop offering the BMAT.
This means that it won’t be possible for any Medical School to ask its applicants to sit the BMAT – even if they wanted to. There won’t be an exam paper to give people!
In 2023, the BMAT is available as normal. So, if you’re currently applying for Medicine (2024 entry) and planning to take the BMAT in October 2023: there’s no need to panic.
Six UK universities – Imperial, Oxford, Cambridge, Lancaster, Brighton & Sussex and UCL – are using the BMAT this year as usual. However, Leeds, which is usually a BMAT uni, has now switched to the UCAT for 2024 entry. It’s worth knowing this to avoid confusion when you’re reading about Leeds admissions and see that the BMAT is mentioned for previous years.
Cambridge Assessment decided to discontinue the BMAT primarily, it seems, because the exam was too difficult and expensive for them to keep running. They are also discontinuing other, similar tests used by Oxbridge only.
As they explain, these are complex tests which require a lot of checking and preparation to run. The overall number of people who take the BMAT each year is relatively small, so the cost-benefit ratio for Cambridge Assessment to keep running small, high-effort tests for an equally small group of universities was probably becoming pretty unfavourable for them.
The key thing to remember is that this isn’t a university-level decision. Universities won’t be able to keep using the BMAT from 2024, even if they might have wanted to.
If you’re applying for Medicine in 2023, for a 2024 start, this is nothing to worry about.
The BMAT will go ahead as normal in October 2023, so you don’t need to change anything (unless you were planning on taking it solely to apply to Leeds). You’ll also still be able to take the BMAT in October and target your application to BMAT unis if your UCAT doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped.
If you weren’t planning on taking the BMAT this year anyway, you might find it useful to know that you now have one more Medical School open to you with the UCAT: Leeds! It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that as it’s a new change this year, we don’t know what Leeds University’s UCAT threshold might be, so it might be hard to target your application strategically unless the university releases specific info on this.
If you’re going to be starting your Medicine application next year and were planning to take the BMAT in October 2024… We can say for sure that the BMAT won’t be happening then, so you can forget about it now.
What we can’t say for certain yet is what will happen instead. Some of the BMAT unis might switch to UCAT, like Leeds has already done this year. This is probably the ‘lowest effort’ option for them.
Another option is that some BMAT unis could potentially introduce their own admissions tests, but this would require a lot of resources. Imperial, Oxford and Cambridge already run in-house admissions tests for some subjects, so they could be the main suspects.
One final option could be for a university to drop requirements for an admissions test altogether. However, this would be risky for them because they may struggle to prove that they assess applicants objectively – and it would probably make it a lot harder for them to shortlist candidates for interview.
At the moment, we’d suggest keeping a close eye on university websites and applicant mailing lists – that way, you’ll be the first to know when their new policies are announced for next year and you’ll be able to prepare accordingly.
We will, of course, be doing our best to keep you updated too. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter if you haven’t already!
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