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6th May 2022
When you’re applying for Medicine, you’ll need to sit an admissions test – and you can choose to do the UCAT, the BMAT, or both! Here are some tips from Avi, a Med student at Imperial who did both tests, to help you figure out which option is the best fit for you.

Should I just do the UCAT?

The UCAT is a two-hour test where you complete five sections of multiple choice questions. The sections are: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement.

If you’re applying for Medicine during sixth form/college and doing the UCAT, you’ll sit the test in the summer between Years 12 and 13. This year, the 2022 UCAT must be taken between 11th July and 29th September. When I did the UCAT, I chose to take it near the end of August – but exactly when you do yours is completely down to personal preference!

Before you register for any admissions tests, you need to research Medical Schools and get an idea of where you would like to apply. If all of your chosen universities are UCAT universities, you might want to only sit the UCAT and not the BMAT.

Sitting only the UCAT still allows you to apply to a broad selection of Med Schools. Remember that it’s important to do well in all aspects of your Medicine application – and sitting the UCAT alone is less work than doing both tests. If you feel you need to focus more on achieving the required A-Level grades, forgoing the pressure of doing the BMAT may be a good option for you. After all, you don’t want to be let down on A-Level results day.

Another important thing to note is that you will receive your UCAT score immediately after taking the test. This means that you can use your score to apply more strategically to Med Schools, unlike the BMAT where you don’t get your score until after you’ve made your Med School choices and submitted your UCAS application.

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Should I just do the BMAT?

The BMAT is a two-hour test split into three sections: Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3. Last year there was only one sitting for the BMAT in November – unlike the UCAT which has a testing period across several months in the summer.

The list of BMAT universities is a lot shorter than for the UCAT – so make sure you do your research and decide if any of these universities appeal to you before you register for the BMAT.

If you want all four of your Med School choices to be BMAT universities, you might want to only sit the BMAT. For example, if you’re targeting Oxford or Cambridge (you can only apply to one of these) and you’re planning to select BMAT universities as your other three choices as well. In my experience, this is a less common route than only doing the UCAT, due to the list of BMAT universities being more limited.

At The Medic Portal, we do not recommend sitting only the BMAT and advise applicants to sit the UCAT as well.

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Should I do the UCAT and the BMAT?

You might choose to do both the UCAT and the BMAT if:

  • You want to apply to UCAT and BMAT universities.
  • You aren’t fully sure of your Med School choices and want to keep your options open in terms of where you can apply.
  • You sit the UCAT in the summer and your score isn’t as high as you’d hoped.

I chose to do both tests when I applied for Medicine. After achieving a relatively high UCAT score in the summer, I thought a lot about whether it was worth applying to any BMAT universities and hence sitting the BMAT as well. Eventually, I decided to take a risk and apply to one BMAT university – Imperial College London. I felt like it was worth a shot, and I had nothing to lose by trying. After scoring well enough in the BMAT too, I ended up getting into Imperial and I’m currently studying Medicine there!

Tips if you choose to do both

If you choose to sit the UCAT in the summer and the BMAT in November, like I did, these are my top tips to manage your workload and avoid falling behind.

  • Time management and prioritisation: The BMAT will occur during your first term of Year 13. Once Year 13 begins, you might find it helpful to plan your days or even weeks in advance. This will help you to maintain a healthy balance of A-Level work with BMAT prep, and the rest of your life too!
  • Although I admit I didn’t do this myself, it might alleviate some stress if you start your BMAT prep (or get ahead with some A-Level work) during the summer before term begins. In this case, you might want to book your UCAT for earlier in the testing period, i.e. July or early August, so you can get on with other work afterwards.
  • Don’t panic – it’s completely possible! Remember that if you do both, you’ll be busy for a period of a few months. If you’re expecting this and you plan your time wisely, this will make everything a lot more manageable.
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