BMAT Specification: A Section-by-Section Breakdown

BMAT

2021-06-16


BMAT Section 1 description
BMAT Section 2 description
BMAT Section 3 description

The BMAT is made up of three sections and is used as an admissions test for medical schools. It is also used by Leeds dental school and for Oxford’s Biomedical Sciences programme.

In this article, we cover each section in depth and list the topics you need to revise to get a good BMAT score. For a general overview of the test, read our BMAT guide.

To get the best score possible, Medify’s BMAT course takes you from your first day right up to the exam, with easy-to-follow guides and practice questions.

Which skills does BMAT test?

  • Reading formal English and following written instructions 
  • Applied scientific and mathematical knowledge
  • Speed of work
  • Mental maths and interpreting data to form conclusions
  • Making logical inferences based on texts or data and spotting illogical inferences 
  • The ability to communicate clearly, including arguments, predictions and evidence-based assertions

BMAT Section 1 – Thinking Skills 

Length: 60 minutes

Questions: 32 multiple-choice questions

BMAT Section 1 used to be called ‘Aptitude and Skills’. It assesses the type of general reasoning you require in an academic environment, both numerical and verbal. It is similar to the UCAT Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning section.

Learn more about the differences between the UCAT and BMAT.

NOTE: Questions are multiple-choice and calculators are not permitted.

Table showing the different subsections of BMAT Section 1, including problem solving and critical thinking. Also includes BMAT Section 1 scoring.

 

BMAT Section 2: Scientific Knowledge and Applications 

Length: 30 minutes 

Questions: 27 multiple-choice questions

BMAT Section 2 tests whether you have an appropriate level of core scientific knowledge and the ability to apply it. 

Questions are of the same difficulty as non-specialist science and maths courses at school. 

Questions are all multiple-choice and no calculators are allowed. 

 

BMAT Section 2 knowledge check: do you know?

BMAT biology icon

Biology (7 questions)

  • SI prefixes: nano 10-9, micro 10–6, etc.
  • Structure and function of the main subcellular components of animal and plant eukaryotic cells
  • The structure and function of prokaryotic cells (bacteria)
  • Levels of organisation: cells to tissues to organs to organ systems.
  • Movement across membranes
  • Cell division and sex determination
  • Inheritance 
  • DNA 
  • Gene technologies 
  • Variation 
  • Enzymes 
  • Animal physiology
  • Ecosystems
BMAT chemistry icon

CHEMISTRY (7 questions)

  • Atomic structure
  • The Periodic Table (IUPAC conventions, Groups are labelled as 1-18) 
  • Chemical reactions, formulae and equations 
  • Quantitative chemistry 
  • Oxidation, reduction and redox 
  • Chemical bonding, structure and properties 
  • Group chemistry 
  • Separation techniques 
  • Acids, bases and salts 
  • Rates of reaction 
  • Energetics 
  • Electrolysis 
  • Carbon/organic chemistry 
  • Metals 
  • Kinetic/particle theory 
  • Chemical tests 
  • Air and water 
BMAT physics icon

PHYSICS (7 questions)

  • Electricity
  • Magnetism 
  • Mechanics 
  • Thermal physics 
  • Matter 
  • Waves 
  • Radioactivity 
BMAT maths icon

MATHEMATICS (6 questions)

  • Units
  • Number - inc. working with integers
  • Ratio and proportion
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Statistics 
  • Probability

Section 3: Writing Task – 30 minutes 

 In BMAT Section 3, you write a counter-argument in response to a proposition. 

This assumes science-related language skills as well the ability to produce clear and concise written communication for an audience unfamiliar with the subject matter at hand.

You choose one option from three possible tasks, based on general, scientific and medical topics.

The questions offer a proposition, which the candidates are invited to consider:

You may need to:

  • Offer a counterargument to the proposition
  • Explain the proposition
  • Find a resolution between two opposing perspectives

In previous years, answers were approximately one-page long (A4). During the pandemic, this increased to 550 words (an upper limit). With the BMAT going back to being a paper-based assessment, it is likely the limit will be 1 page again. 

Your writing must be carefully planned, concise and organised. You will not have access to a dictionary, so use familiar vocabulary - don’t guess at spellings unless absolutely necessary

Some universities will discuss your essay at interview.

Read the official BMAT specification for more details

BMAT scoring and reporting 

For Sections 1&2, your answer sheet is marked automatically and is reported on a 9-point BMAT scale (to one decimal place). 

Section 3 is marked by two Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing examiners and sent to each university you’ve applied to, which can be used to assess your writing skills.

Find out more about how the BMAT is scored and what makes a good score.

Summary

  • Section 1 is similar to a verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning assessment (think of UCAT VR and QR sections).
  • For Section 2, brush up on your science fundamentals, as detailed in the lists above.
  • For Section 3, practice your academic writing skills, as clarity, conciseness and structure are paramount.
  • In general, taking a structured BMAT course is the best way to stay on top of your revision. The exam is challenging and ultra-competitive, so do everything you can to succeed.







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