Teachers’ Guide: UKCAT and BMAT
Revising for the UKCAT and BMAT can be one of the most daunting aspects for students applying to medical school. This page will detail tips for teachers on how to help your students prepare for these entrance exams. This advice reflects the views of the individual teachers and not necessarily those of The Medic Portal.
Increasingly added to the long list of selection criteria for admission to medical schools are scores from additional tests and exams. Although UKCAT and BMAT are the exams that readily spring to mind, one should be aware that more and more medical schools are introducing their own tests. Some of these are very short, but others have several stages, and some are in the form of questionnaires to be completed before interview. These can be found out about through ‘selection procedures’ on medical school websites.
UKCAT is used by the vast majority of medical schools, although not quite all of them, and that means essentially every applicant will take the exam. The exam is open for registration in May, with the first testing available in July, the last in October. The UKCAT website is very comprehensive, and allows for practice papers to be performed on line, with results provided. When the applicant feels ready to take the test they can choose when to take it. With sufficient practice the preparations can be undertaken personally, but there are a few good courses out there as long as students check both the quality and cost of the course.
UKCAT is used in selection procedures in a variety of ways: some medical schools have a cut-off point score, others incorporate the score into their points system. As this information will be available from them when students apply to UCAS it is therefore valuable, if not essential to know your UKCAT score before you apply so that you can check that you are not wasting an application. I would suggest therefore that the UKCAT test is taken, and score known, before the application process starts.
BMAT is a more difficult test, something along the same lines, but with an essay added to the testing as well. Once more this can be prepared for online personally, but there are courses out there which will help you prepare if you think you need assistance.
The essay is relatively straight forward to prepare for, but not the other sections. This test is taken on the same day nationally by all candidates, usually around 1st November. It is only required for entry to medical schools at Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial, Sussex, Leeds and Lancaster at the moment.
My advice would be that unless the applicant is outstanding they only included two places for BMAT universities on UCAS and left two that did not require it, so that all their eggs were not in the same basket.
How can I help students with their UKCAT and BMAT?
Encourage them to practice
Practice is key to achieving top UKCAT and BMAT scores. Help your students by encouraging them to sit past papers in class or at home, and encourage them to use our BMAT Question Bank and UKCAT Question Bank.
If your school has a Medical Society, you could suggest completing practice papers or questions as a group and going through the mark scheme together to get them familiar with the exam formats. BMAT papers are available on the Admissions Testing website and UKCAT papers are available here.
Suggest ways of revising
Aside from completing past papers, students may often be stuck with revision techniques. For the BMAT, encourage them to practice their mental maths by suggesting they go without a calculator for a month or so! For BMAT science questions, suggest that they make use of the Assumed Subject Knowledge Guide, which details all material that may appear in Section 2. You could suggest students make colour-coded mindmaps or revision cards for the different topics they’re not so confident on. For the BMAT essay, you could go through past essay questions and plan your answers as a class – see our Section 3 blog on how to structure these. You could also direct them to our BMAT guides for Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3 for top preparation tips.
For the UKCAT’s Verbal Reasoning section, help your students familiarise themselves with reading large passages of text by encouraging them to bring in a news article and explain it to their partner. To practice Situational Judgement, you could go through past papers’ scenarios as a class and check the mark scheme. You may also want to direct students to our blog on Situational Judgement Top Tips. Our detailed UKCAT pages on our Application Guide provide detailed information on all aspects of the exam, including Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, Decision Making and Situational Judgement.
You could also consider buying Mastering the BMAT or Mastering the UKCAT for your classroom for students to use during their revision sessions.
Consider booking an in-house BMAT or UKCAT Course
If you have a group of students applying to Medicine, a good way to help them with their preparation may be a BMAT or UKCAT course. If there are just a few students interested, this option is still available – we could combine them with another school. Contact us on our Book A Course page to find out more about how we can help.