The UCAT and BMAT: What are their similarities and differences?

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5/15/2020

The UCAT is a test of your 'raw' abilities.

Think of it as 'the fundamentals of thinking', such as mental arithmetic and decision making, not outside knowledge. One exception to this is the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) section, which requires you to know about the conduct and professionalism of health care workers, including medical ethics.

So how is the BMAT different? The BMAT also assesses raw ability, but it in addition it tests your basic knowledge, much like your GCSEs and A-levels.

Both exams are preparation heavy and can be stressful. Our award-winning UCAT and BMAT courses are designed to take the anxiety out of preparation. So what other differences are there?

NOTE: the BMAT used to be pen and paper based, but due to the pandemic it will be entirely computer based in 2021.
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Fluid vs Crystallised Intelligence

Fluid intelligence relates to the ability to reason and solve problems in new situations (such as 3D spatial rotation). 

Crystallised intelligence relates to the ability to use the knowledge that you have acquired through past learning or experience (such as capital cities).

Generally, the UCAT tests fluid, but the BMAT tests both.

UCAT and BMAT overview

UCAT test illustration

To really get to know this exam, read this overview of the UCAT.

The UCAT is a two hour test with five sections that are all multiple choice and are computer-based.

There is no written component: 

  • Verbal reasoning: tests your ability to quickly process information by answering comprehension questions based on short passages (44 questions)
  • Decision making: tests your capacity to apply logic to specific situations to reach a decision or conclusion (29 questions)
  • Quantitative reasoning: to test your mathematical abilities (36 questions) 
  • Abstract reasoning: tests your ability to recognise patterns and abstract logic (55 questions)
  • Situational judgement: tests your comprehension of medically relevant situations (69 questions) 

Find out how to prepare for the UCAT.

BMAT test illustration

Similarly, our BMAT overview covers most of what you need to know about this test.

The BMAT is a two hour test with three sections and is paper-based.

  • Section 1: Thinking skills (60 minutes)
  • Section 2: Scientific knowledge and applications (30 minutes)
  • Section 3: Writing task (30 minutes)

Read the full BMAT specification.

UCAT and BMAT comparison

The UCAT relates closely to Section 1 of the BMAT. It tests cognition rather than learned science.

Section 1 of the BMAT focuses on:

  1. Critical thinking. Similar to UCAT Verbal Reasoning. You read a short passage of text and need to understand it quickly.
  1. Problem-solving. Similar to UCAT Quantitative Reasoning. It requires you to deal with basic mathematical operations. However, while there is a bespoke onscreen UCAT calculator, the BMAT is mental arithmetic only.

By improving your raw abilities across the board you will strengthen your BMAT Section 2 and BMAT Section 3 scores. In this way, UCAT preparation informs BMAT performance and vice versa.

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We offer an Online UCAT Course with 20,000+ practice questions, 21 full mock exams and 50+ hours of video tutorials.

We also offer an Online BMAT Course has over 2,000 original practice questions, 15 unique mock exams, Section 1-3 tutorials, essay plans, and a past paper grader.

Our affordable courses have been widening access to medical and dental school since 2009. We can help you achieve your dream.

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