BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test) | University of Oxford

BMAT (Biomedical Admissions Test)

COVID-19: important information for BMAT candidates

Here’s a summary of the changes to the November 2020 BMAT :
- The BMAT will still be taken at your chosen centre on 4 November but you will take it on a computer rather than with pen and paper.
- Your school/centre will be able to advise whether you should bring your own laptop or if a computer will be provided for you. 
- If you are applying to study in Thailand or at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Singapore, please note your test will remain paper-based. 
- You should register for the test through your school/centre in the usual way.
- To cover the additional costs of delivering the test during the Covid-19 pandemic, the test fees have changed. 
- A reimbursement scheme is in place for those who cannot afford the standard test fee. 
- Please subscribe to this article for further updates about the November 2020 BMAT 
- Note that remote proctoring may be available in exceptional circumstances. Please contact Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing with all queries about remote proctoring.

For full details of the test fee changes and reimbursement criteria, please visit the BMAT – November dates and costs page

If you are applying for one of the following courses you will be required to sit the BMAT: Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Medicine (Graduate Entry).

The Biomedical Admissions Test lasts 2 hours and is sat under timed conditions. The BMAT is divided into three sections. Section 1 tests problem solving, understanding argument, and data analysis and inference. Section 2 is based on the knowledge typically included in non-specialist school Science and Mathematics courses. It tests your ability to apply this knowledge – possibly in unfamiliar contexts. Section 3 tests the capacity to develop ideas and to communicate them effectively in writing. It is not a test of knowledge. 

You can find out more information about each of the sections on the How do I Prepare?  tab or by looking at the BMAT test specification.

Why do I have to take a test?

Most applicants to Oxford University have great personal statements, excellent references, and are also predicted top grades. It can therefore be difficult for us to choose between so many well-qualified candidates, especially as applicants come from all over the world and take different qualifications.

Tests give us an extra piece of information for every student who has applied for a given course, wherever they are from. Considered together with the other elements of the application, this helps us to identify the very best candidates. However, there is no specific mark that will guarantee your application will be shortlisted. The tests vary each year, and your test score will be considered alongside the scores of other students who apply for your course.

Do I have to pay?

The BMAT is run by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, who charge all candidates sitting the test  standard entry fee, see the CAAT website for details of this year's fees. Please be aware that if you are sitting the test in an independent test centre you may be charged an additional administration fee; you should contact your centre for details. However, we do not wish the cost of sitting the test to be a barrier so financial support may be available if it is difficult for you to pay. If you meet certain criteria you will be eligible to have the cost of your fees reimbursed, find out more here. For further guidance about this please contact us.

How are the tests designed and reviewed?

When a department wishes to introduce a new admissions test for their course, there is a substantial consultation process within the University, including a pilot testing phase, designed to ensure that the test is suitable. Where appropriate, subject departments are encouraged to share common tests, or elements of tests, to ease the process of application for the student and administration for the school or college. Use of the tests is carefully reviewed and we undertake substantial statistical evaluation of each test.

How do I register?

Registration isn't automatic and just completing your UCAS application won't register you for the test. You cannot register yourself for a test, but must do so through an authorised test centre. For most candidates this is their own school or college, but can also be an open test centre. You must provide your centre with the following information:

  • your name, gender, date of birth and UCAS number exactly as they have been entered on your UCAS application
  • the name of your chosen university, course and course code (the BMAT is used by lots of universities in the UK so please make sure you note down all those you are planning to apply to)
  • details of any access arrangements you require, along with the evidence to support your request. (Requests for modified question papers must be submitted to Cambridge Assessment Testing Admissions Testing (CAAT) by your centre by 30 September.)
  • For information about the cost of BMAT, please see the CAAT website

Taking your test in school or college:

Please ask your Exams Officer whether or not your school or college is registered as a test centre. If they are not, they can follow this advice on how to become a test centre. Institutions can register to become test centres at any time before the deadline of 30 September. Schools can register their candidates anytime for the BMAT between 1 September and 1 October. Please make sure you have your candidate entry number as proof of entry by midnight on 1 October. Late entries are accepted up to 15 October, however an additional fee applies so you are strongly advised to begin making arrangements as soon as possible.

Taking your test in an open test centre:

If for any reason your school cannot become a test centre, or your circumstances make this impractical, you can take your test at an open centre. You can find your nearest test centre via the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) website. Centres can register candidates for the BMAT anytime between 1 September and 1 October. Please make sure you have your candidate entry number as proof of entry by midnight on 1 October. Late entries are accepted up to 15 October, however an additional fee applies so you are strongly advised to begin making arrangements as soon as possible. If you cannot find a test centre within reasonable travelling distance of your home town, please contact the Support Team at CAAT.

Can I apply for access arrangements?

Your test centre will be able to apply for access arrangements for you if you have a permanent or long-term disability which might affect your performance such as a sight impairment, dyslexia or cerebral palsy. You may also be eligible for access arrangements if you have a short-term difficulty, such as a broken arm.

The access arrangements you are eligible for will depend on the exact nature of your condition and most often will be the same as those you would get while taking a public examination at your school. These could include modified materials (i.e. large print or braille exam papers), extra time, or the use of a laptop.

You should let your school or test centre know of any requirements you may have as early as you can and provide them with medical evidence to support your application. Please note the deadline for applying for modified papers is 30 September, while all other access arrangements can be arranged by the normal deadline of 15 October.

When do I take the test?

The BMAT is administered by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT). All candidates applying to Medicine (A100), Medicine (Graduate Entry) (A101) and Biomedical Sciences must sit the BMAT in November on the following date:

  • Wednesday 4 November 2020
  • Wednesday 3 November 2021
  • Wednesday 2 November 2022

We are aware that sometimes tests fall during school half terms which vary by region each year. Unfortunately due to the tight time frames for processing applications, it is not possible to avoid this but we hope that by giving considerable notice of test dates, schools will be able to make plans for their students to sit tests either at their school or at an alternative test centre and candidates will make sure they are available to take the necessary test(s).

Please note your application will not normally be considered by the admissions tutors for Medicine (A100 and A101) or Biomedical Sciences if you have not taken the BMAT. We are aware that there may be extra difficulties for some candidates this year, but we expect the vast majority of candidates to be able to sit tests as planned. If exceptional circumstances make this impossible, you may be able to take the BMAT online via a remote proctoring service arranged by CAAT. Please subscribe to this article for updates about eligibility criteria and how to apply for this service. For all other queries about the BMAT and remote proctoring, please contact CAAT directly.

If you are unable to take your admissions test, please see details on our summary of changes to admissions tests for 2021-entry page for information about what will happen next.

It is not possible to re-sit the BMAT. If you feel you did badly due to extenuating circumstances, for example: if you were ill on the day of the test, your test centre can submit a special consideration form for you; or if there was some form of disruption at the test centre you can submit the form yourself.  Application forms must be received within 5 days of the test date.

Graduate-entry Medicine candidates (A101): Candidates for graduate-entry medicine may normally choose the September or November sitting of the BMAT, but please note that in light of the ongoing global COVID-19 situation, the decision has been taken to cancel the BMAT September session in 2020. 

How do I get my results?

Results for the BMAT are released at the end of November via CAAT’s Metritests system. You will be given login details on the day of your test on an information sheet. Admissions tutors will receive the results of all tests directly from CAAT in time to make their shortlisting decisions in November, so candidates do not need to send their results to us separately.

How do I prepare?

The November 2020 BMAT will be a computer-based rather than paper-based test (except for those taking the test in Thailand or Singapore). For all technical details and updates specific to the November 2020 BMAT, please subscribe to this article and refer to information on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website. Please register for the test by 1 October (an extra fee applies to late registration by 15 October).

Taking any type of test or exam can be stressful, but you can help build your confidence by doing a bit of preparation ahead of time. You may also do better in the real test if you've had a chance to practise some sample or past papers, and got used to the format and timings of the admissions test you have to take. Here are our top tips for preparing for the BMAT:

  1. Review the practice and past papers for the BMAT. This will help you to feel familiar with the test paper and know what to expect.
  2. Sit at least one past paper in test conditions. This is really important as it will help you get used to how much time to allocate to each of the three sections.
  3. We strongly recommend that you check the test specification and ensure that you have covered the relevant material.
  4. CAAT have lots of resources to help you prepare of the BMAT on their website
  5. You may also find the BMAT videos, preparation guide (to the right at the top of the page) and webinar on the CAAT website useful.

Don't worry if you find the past or specimen papers very difficult - they're supposed to be! All our tests are designed to stretch you further than you have been stretched before – most candidates will find them really hard.

Section 1: Aptitude and Skills

Section 1 tests problem solving, the ability to understand an argument, and data analysis and inference. Here are some practice papers with explained answers for this first section.

You can still use Section 1 past papers to practise, but note that Section 1 no longer contains Data Analysis and Inference questions, in which a longer text is followed by a set of related questions. 

The paper below is a specimen paper in the new format for Section 1: Thinking Skills, now consisting of 32 Problem Solving and Critical Thinking questions.

The following guide gives you examples of the different question types and lots of tips on the best approach to Section 1. 

Section 2: Scientific Knowledge and Applications

Section 2 is based on the knowledge typically included in non-specialist school Science and Mathematics courses. It tests your ability to apply this knowledge – possibly in unfamiliar contexts. Please note that as curriculums have changed over time, so has the Science and Mathematics content of BMAT Section 2. The BMAT Section 2 content specification was revised in 2014. If you find a past paper question which you do not know how to answer, please check whether it is still covered by the current test specification, as some topics previously examined are no longer included. 

The following guide provides an overview of the scientific and mathematical knowledge which BMAT Section 2 questions can draw on. You will have covered much of this content in your school-based study of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. Where you have not covered a topic or would like more revision, use this guide as a study tool alongside support from your teachers, textbooks or reliable online resources.

If you have any problems accessing the guide, please contact Admissions Testing Support. The guide is for on-screen reading only – it cannot be downloaded or printed, and it is currently not accessible on mobile devices.

Section 3: Writing Task

Section 3 tests your capacity to develop ideas and to communicate them effectively in writing. It is not a test of knowledge. Between 2010-2016, Section 3 had four writing tasks, however, as of 2017, you will be provided with a choice of three writing tasks.

Past Papers

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010      

2009      

BMAT test specification and guides

  • BMAT test specification: the specification summarises what each section of BMAT tests and briefly outlines the scientific and mathematical knowledge that Section 2 questions can draw upon. 
  • BMAT preparation guide: this guide provides lots of useful tips on how to prepare for the test.
  • BMAT Section 1 question guide: this guide gives you examples of the different question types and lots of tips on how to best approach Section 1. 

Further Reading

  • John Butterworth and Geoff Thwaites, Thinking Skills (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
  • Nigel Warburton, Thinking from A to Z (Routledge, 2000)
  • Alec Fisher, Critical Thinking: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Marking criteria

Questions in Sections 1 and 2 are worth 1 mark each. Total raw marks for each section are converted to BMAT's scale, which runs from 1 (low) to 9 (high). Typical BMAT candidates will score around 5.0, roughly half marks. The best candidates will score around 6.0, and a few exceptional candidates will score higher than 7.0.

Writing Tasks in Section 3 are marked by two examiners. Each examiner gives two scores – one for quality of content (on a scale of 0–5), and one for quality of written English (on the scale A, C, E), see Section 3 marking criteria.

Combining the scores for Section 3: If the two marks for content are the same or no more than one mark apart, the candidate gets the average of the two marks. If the two marks for written English are the same or no more than one mark apart, the scores are combined like this: AA = A, AC = B, CC = C, CE = D and EE = E. For example, a writing task given a 4C by one examiner and 4A by the other will get a final score of 4B. A writing task given 3C by one examiner and 2C by the other will receive a mark of 2.5C.

If there is a larger discrepancy in the marks, the writing tasks are marked for a third time, and the final mark is checked by the Senior Assessment Manager.