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Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing
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by Andy Chamberlain, Head of Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing
The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) was launched in 2003 by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing in response to demand from universities for an additional tool to help assess applications to Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences courses. BMAT is now a fixture in the academic calendar as the number of excellent applicants continues to exceed the number of available places. Admissions tutors use BMAT to assess whether a candidate has the skills needed to thrive on a biomedical course, skills including problem solving, critical thinking, application of scientific knowledge and written communication skills. Testing these skills in a fair and accessible way is also seen as a route to improved inclusivity in the applications process, as BMAT provides a measure of future potential.
Most students take BMAT before sitting their final school exams and, although they can prepare for the test independently, they can benefit from teacher support in order to help them navigate the BMAT process.
Firstly, we suggest that students are told about BMAT as early as possible when planning their academic future. BMAT is not required by every university, but it is by a growing list of unique and exciting universities across the world. Students also need to know that BMAT preparation materials are free (all provided by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing), that no additional tuition is required, and that financial help for the test fee is available for those who need it.
Students may also need guidance on BMAT administration – including registration, selecting the right test session, and managing BMAT results. Detailed information is all on the BMAT website, but teachers can help by monitoring their students’ progress through the registration process and beyond, to ensure the right decisions are being made and deadlines met.
Students then need to prepare for the test itself. BMAT is a two-hour test divided into three sections: a one-hour thinking skills test, a 30-minute scientific knowledge and applications test, and a 30-minute writing task. For Section 2, BMAT assesses the science and maths knowledge typically covered by the age of 16. Encourage your students to prepare by using the wide range of free resources on the BMAT website, especially past papers and explained answers as these show typical BMAT question types and how they can be approached and answered.
Above all, it’s important that students – and teachers – see BMAT not as a barrier but as an opportunity. It’s a test that every ambitious student should consider taking as part of the application process to their chosen courses, it gives them the chance to show the universities what they can do. And if they prepare well, they can really stand out from the crowd.