Medical or dentistry programs in the UK at the undergraduate level require an admissions test score as part of the application – this is either the UCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test) or the BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test). Each school has a specific requirement for which test score they consider – the UCAT and BMAT 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.
UCAT vs. BMAT – What Are The Differences?
Medical School Requirements For UCAT & BMAT
Therefore, it is important that you decide your target universities beforehand so that you are prepared to take these tests earlier in the test cycle, if possible.
As you’ll notice from the lists below, more schools use the UCAT for admissions and this is a strong reason to start your UCAT preparation early. However, on the BMAT list are highly prestigious and selective universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, and Imperial. Hence, many students take both the UCAT and BMAT in order to maximize their choice from a larger university pool. This allows them to apply to a few competitive programs while also having slightly less selective schools as alternatives.
Students interested in applying to NTU in Singapore will also be required to take the BMAT as part of their admission requirements.
Schools that require UCAT
Here’s a list of schools requiring the UCAT
- University of Aberdeen – Aberdeen, Scotland
- University of Birmingham – Birmingham, England
- Cardiff University – Cardiff, Wales
- University of Dundee – Dundee, Scotland
- University of East Anglia – Norwich, England
- University of Nottingham – Nottingham, England
- Plymouth University – Plymouth, England
- Queen Mary University of London – London, England
- University of Edinburgh – Edinburgh, Scotland
- University of Exeter – Exeter, England
- University of Glasgow – Glasgow, Scotland
- Hull York Medical School – Heslington, England
- Keele University – Keele, England
- Queen’s University Belfast – Belfast, Northern Ireland
- University of Sheffield – Sheffield, England
- University of Southampton – Southampton, England
- King’s College London – London, England
- University of Leicester – Leicester, England
- University of Liverpool – Liverpool, England
- University of Manchester – Manchester, England
- Newcastle University – Newcastle upon Tyne, England
- University of St Andrews – St Andrews, Scotland
- St George’s University of London – London Borough of Wandsworth, England
- University of Warwick – Coventry, England
Schools that require BMAT
Here’s a list of schools requiring the BMAT
- Brighton and Sussex Medical School – Brighton, England
- Imperial College London – London, England
- University of Cambridge – Cambridge, England
- University College London – London, England
- Keele University – Keele, England
- Lancaster University – Lancashire, England
- University of Leeds – Leeds, England
- University of Oxford – Oxford, England
Schools approved by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC)
To practice medicine in Singapore, you have to graduate from a school that’s approved by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC). Here’s a list of SMC-approved schools:
- University of Birmingham, School of Medicine
- University of Bristol, Bristol Medical School
- University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine
- University of Dundee, School of Medicine
- The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Medical School
- University of Glasgow, School of Medicine
- University of Leicester, School of Medicine
- University of Liverpool, School of Medicine
- Kings College London GKT School of Medical Education
- Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry
- University College London, UCL Medical School
- St. George’s University of London, St. George’s Hospital Medical School
- The University of Manchester, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health
- University of Nottingham, School of Medicine
- University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division
- The University of Sheffield, The Medical School
- University of Southampton, Faculty of Medicine
- Imperial College London, School of Medicine
- Cardiff University, School of Medicine
What are the differences between the UCAT and the BMAT?
For both the UCAT and BMAT, students are only allowed to take both exams once per admission cycle. The results from each exam are valid for only the admissions cycle in which the exam was taken. While both tests are used to assess fit for medical school, there are several differences in the specific skills they test.
The BMAT can only be taken twice a year (February/November) on specific pre-set dates. Depending on which universities you are applying to, application requirements may require you to sit for a specific date. The UCAT, meanwhile, can be taken over the course of three months, typically late July to late September. For both the BMAT and UCAT, students are only allowed to attempt the test once per testing cycle.
Sections and Content
The UCAT is divided into 5 sections: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning and Situational Judgement, all of which are in multiple-choice format. The UCAT tests abstract content, aptitude and skills such as problem-solving, data analysis and inference, logical reasoning, and mathematical abilities. You will have access to an on-screen calculator.
The BMAT is only composed of three subtests – Aptitude and Skills, Scientific Knowledge and Applications, and Writing Task. The first two subtests are in multiple-choice format, while the last subtest is an essay. The first section is similar to the UCAT as it focuses on assessing aptitude and skills, however, the difficulty level is significantly higher due to the higher allocated time. The science section on the BMAT is more knowledge-based and includes content typically covered in high school Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology (GCSE level) Unlike the UCAT, you will not have access to a calculator. The essay section is also unique to the BMAT and you will have 30 minutes to write an essay in which you argue for or against the chosen topic.
Both tests are two hours long. However, the UCAT has a much larger volume of questions, making it more difficult to complete in this period of time. To review the time per section and question, please visit our page on the UCAT overview.
The scoring system varies between the exams: each section on the UCAT is scaled to a score between 300-900 and the Situational Judgement section is scored using bands ranging from 1 to 4, whereas in the BMAT scores for Sections 1 and 2 range from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest), with Section 3 scored from 1-5 and A-E.
Another major difference between the UCAT and BMAT is when you find out your scores. UCAT results are made available to candidates immediately after completing the examination; however, BMAT results are released after approximately three weeks. Note that for students taking the BMAT in November, they won’t have their scores till after they have submitted 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.