BMAT or UCAT: Which one should I take?

By Gary Keung

(Admissions Consultant at The Edge Learning Center)

BMAT or UCAT: Which one should I take?

There’s no question that the UK is a popular destination for students considering careers in medicine. Medical degrees in the UK combine theoretical training with valuable professional experience. Most importantly, unlike university systems in the USA, students can enroll immediately after finishing high school to specialize in the medical profession.

The UK has its own set of competitive requirements when it comes to studying medicine. For the UK, aspiring medical students must be able to demonstrate more than just good grades and a stellar personal statement. The students must also take entrance tests to demonstrate their aptitude. There are two common undergraduate medical entrance exams that students are required to sit – the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) or the Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT). Each UK medical school has a specific requirement for which test score they consider and they cannot be substituted for one another. Based on the universities you wish to apply to, you may accordingly have to take one or both of these tests.


1) Universities

Some universities require you to take the UCAT and some require you to take the BMAT. If there’s a medical school you’ve got your heart set on, it’s really vital to check which admissions test you need to take to apply and make sure you register for it before the deadline. Below are the list of popular UK universities and their corresponding test (the entire list is available on the respective test’s website):


2) Exam Content

The UCAT test is slightly different from the BMAT, in that it is a computerized test, as opposed to pen and paper. Whereas the BMAT tests knowledge and aptitude, the UCAT tests aptitude only. The UCAT has five sections, as opposed to the BMAT’s three.

3) Scoring And Results

A major difference between the UCAT and BMAT is when you find out your scores. For the UCAT results, you will receive your results as soon as you walk out of your exam. As a result, you will know your scores before you apply to medical schools. In this way, you can find out which medical schools might accept you by looking at their acceptance and threshold scores.  It takes approximately three weeks for BMAT results to be released. Students taking the BMAT in November will not receive their scores until after they submit their applications (October 15th is the deadline for medical school applications in the UK). This makes it rather risky, and you will need to ensure that you have completed sufficient practice tests under simulated conditions to make a good estimate of your actual test score.

General Advice

It is generally recommended that all medical applicants take the UCAT, as you will be able to consult your results before applying to UCAT medical schools based on the results. This means that there’s really nothing to lose from taking the UCAT. Taking the BMAT exam means you will have applied to medical schools before taking the exam. If you haven’t achieved a high enough score in the UCAT, or if you are interested in studying at BMAT medical schools, the BMAT is a good alternative. You would sit only the BMAT if you want all four of your Med School choices to be BMAT universities. 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, albeit it can be risky and only recommended if you have alternative options for medicine beyond the UK. Hence, it is vital to plan and prepare early so that you won’t be overwhelmed.


Can I sit the test more than once?
You can only sit the test once and any instances of multiple testing in the same year will be treated as an example of candidate misconduct and be viewed by a university as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage.

Can I use results from the previous year as part of a new application?
Results are only valid in the year that the test is taken and cannot be carried over to a re-application. Likewise, there is no penalty for taking the test again in subsequent years as each application is considered afresh.


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About The Edge

Established in 2008, The Edge Learning Center has grown into a premier one-stop provider of educational services for Grade 7 through Grade 12, targeting students who intend to pursue overseas education. Our three departments – Academic Tutoring, Test Preparation, and Admissions Consulting – offer a broad range of educational services spanning from SAT and IB Test Prep to colleges and boarding schools application counseling. The Edge Learning Center operates in multiple regions including Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam.