Facing the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) 3 Nov 2010

Four days until the dreaded BMAT and I find myself desperately google-ing for anything even remotely related to the test itself. Here’s what I find:

  1. A few links to the official websites

  2. A Wikipedia page

  3. forum posts on thestudentroom.co.uk that are grossly out of date

  4. and a blog post by me.

All of which are useless with regard to preparing for the actual BMAT (apart from the official site). So I decided to do another blog in an effort to put some real advice out there. But what kind of authority am I? Do I know any more than you do? Well that’s debatable, but if not please share your wisdom. And hopefully I might meet some you on Wednesday so we can cram for it together before the BMAT, or not depending on whether or not I actually have any readers who are doing the BMAT. So what I am going to do is do a full blog on everything I think you need to know to do well in the BMAT.

What is the BMAT?

The BMAT is an Admissions test for Medical courses in five universities in the UK (also dentistry and pharmacology). There are 3 sections in the exam:

  1. Section 1, 35 questions, 60 minutes. Tests aptitude and skills. Multiple choice questions (3-6 choices) and number answers. No specific knowledge needed in this section but some logic questions require maths. Most questions involve reading passages or graphs or correctly using data to answer the question

  2. Section 2, 27 questions, 30 minutes. Tests Scientific Knowledge and applications. Multiple choice questions (3-6 choices) and number answers. Knowledge of Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Applied Maths (unless you know your Physics really well) is required to Leaving Cert. Level.

  3. Section 3, One Essay, 30 minutes. Tests ability to write concisely and effectively, comprehension of statements as well as ability to develop an argument. A4 page essay. General knowledge of medical practices and problems, ethics and the NHS (National Health Service) would be beneficial in this section.

What you really should know going in to the BMAT.

After doing every question available from the BMAT official site here are some really important things you should know, apart from knowing everything! This is not a finite list. Extremely basic topics are excluded. *In bold are topics I found I had to revise specifically. 


  • Venn diagrams, algebra – formula manipulation, long division (no calculators allowed and it’s probably been a long time)

  • Probability, Combinations, Percentages (Percentage change), Scientific Notation (i.e. 5 x 10^2  = 500)

  • All area, volume and surface area formulae (especially triangles, circles, spheres and cylinders), Pythagoras’ theorem

  • Box and whisker plots (I had never seen these before, check them out http://www.basic-mathematics.com/box-and-whiskers-plot.html)

  • -b formula (quadratic formula)


  • units (especially electricity and work, energy and force)

  • Formulae for electricity, work, power, force, density. (especially how to add resistors and currents in a circuit)

  • Levers

  • Equations of motion

  • Volume, density, pressure, buoyancy

  • Heat, graphs of change in energy vs. change in temperature, latent heat

  • Wave nature of light (remember that red light is refracted the least in a prism)

  • Transformers formula (electricity)

  • Radioactivity, types of radiation (penetrating ability and atomic and mass numbers), half-life, uses of radiation


  • Balancing chemical equations

  • Basic knowledge of the Periodic Table

  • Concentrations in moles

  • Impurities lower freezing points and increase boiling points

  • Electrolysis

  • Organic compounds, types, reactions, general formulae

  • Fractional distillation of crude oil


  • Parts of the digestive system (order of parts in the alimentary canal)

  • Blood flow (direction of flow in the body and heart)

  • Air pathway

  • Nervous system

  • Menstrual cycle hormones and negative feedback

  • The nephron (water concentrations and solutes)

  • Inheritance (Punnett squares and pedigree charts)

Of course there are a lot of other things you really need to know and understand but for those who are already studying these subjects for the leaving Cert. these are the topics I would focus on seeing as there is so little time left. For those not sitting these subjects I would suggest looking up these topics that I’ve mentioned as well as revising any science that you already know from Junior Cert.. As for me I doing all of them anyway.

My top tips and strategies for the BMAT

I really should not be sharing these but I’m feeling generous so here they are:

  1. Leave your opinions out of section 1 and 2 – Only use the information given to you in the passage. A lot of the time they tend to put in options which reflect popular opinion with regards to climate change, drug abuse and quality of healthcare just to throw you off the correct answer. Read the passage with an open mind.

  2. When presented with a long passages with multiple questions after it read the questions first.

  3. When presented with a difficult maths question look at the answer option before doing the sum so that you know how specific the answer has to be and when you can stop.

  4. Timekeeping – Wear a digital watch and don’t check the time too often. What I like to do is check the time when I get to the end of a column on my answer sheet. So I know that if there are three columns that I should only have taken a third of the time to do each one.

  5. Don’t spend waste time on difficult questions – Especially in the beginning don’t spend time trying to figure out something you’ll probably get wrong.

  6. Watch out for numbers hidden as words – Often they will give you some of the data in number form and then add more data as words.

  7. Make a plan for the Essay Question – Take about ten minutes to make a detailed plan of your essay. Make sure to address every point and avoid waffle and repetition.

  8. Final Tip for the truely desperate – Let this be a last resort. If you are about to run out of time and have to guess the remaining questions, guess with the same letter for every question rather than different letters. There will be a higher probability of getting one or two correct.

Note: I tend to ignore advice about relaxing but you should do that too.

So That’s all I got. If anyone wants to ask a question about the BMAT or wants me to try to explain a BMAT question, please leave a comment. If anyone has any futher tips/ advice/ messages for people sitting the BMAT next week, please leave a comment.

Good luck to everyone doing the BMAT!




6 thoughts on “Facing the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) 3 Nov 2010”

  1. Great and informative post Michael. Just adding this link too. BMAT test preparation. Loads of links to sample papers etc. is it of any use?

    1. Ya, thanks Enda. That’s a link to the official bmat website I refered to in the blog. The material there is really good.

  2. Hi Michael,

    If you’re looking for a little more test-like preparation for the BMAT, have a go at Kaplan’s free half-length (hour-long) BMAT practice test. You can download this test for free from http://www.kaptest.co.uk. You’ll need to navigate to the ‘free downloads’ section.

    Good luck to all taking the BMAT on Wednesday.
    The Team at Kaplan

    1. Thanks for suggesting that test. It was fairly difficult. But that’s a lot better than having a test that’s too easy! Section 1 was a good representation of the actual Bmat while I think Section 2 was trickier than the real thing will ever be. That being said, questions are only easy when you know the answer.

  3. Okay so it’s tomorrow and from looking at all this info i think it’s gonna be flat out study tonight 🙂

  4. thank you ever so much for the topic list.. was freaking out, but now I have a clear study plan… you’re a total lifesaver.:)

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