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

Admissions

2020-05-15

A straightforward way to think about the main differences in UCAT and BMAT is that the UCAT aims to get a greater understanding of your “raw” abilities. These include speed reading, mental arithmetic, decision making and more. The UCAT is not so concerned with your basic knowledge but instead tests you through more abstract concepts. So what about the BMAT?

While the BMAT indeed assesses these "rawer" abilities, it additionally examines your basic knowledge. It does this in a way that you are likely much more accustomed to from your GCSEs and A-levels. 

One way of thinking about this is the idea of fluid versus crystallised intelligence. Fluid intelligence relates to the ability to reason and solve problems in new situations (such as 3D spatial rotation). 

On the other hand, 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.

In this short piece, we outline some similarities and differences to keep in mind about the UCAT and BMAT. This is so that you are equipped to think about how to develop your skills in anticipation of the exams.

Recapping the UCAT and BMAT exams:

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) 

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

  • Section 1: Aptitude and skills (60 minutes)
  • Section 2: Scientific knowledge and application (30 minutes)
  • Section 3: Essay test (30 minutes)

Similarities and differences between the UCAT and BMAT:

The UCAT relates much more closely to Section 1 of the BMAT. This is because it relates to more general tests of cognition rather than learned science. But how does it relate?

Section 1 of the BMAT focuses on:

  1. Critical thinking questions. These are most similar to the verbal reasoning part of the UCAT, in that it requires you to read a short passage of text and understand it quickly. (Also, the verbal reasoning is most closely related to Section 3; the essay part of the BMAT).
  1. Problem-solving questions. These are most similar to quantitative reasoning part of the UCAT, in that they require you to deal with basic mathematical operations. However, while the UCAT allows you to use the calculator, the BMAT does not.

Despite the specific similarities between BMAT questions and parts of the UCAT, it is essential to note that by improving your raw abilities across the board you will undoubtedly be able to learn more quickly and strengthen your Section 2 and 3 of the BMAT too. 

The take-home message is that honing in your raw skills will help you immensely in all aspects of your exam but the best thing you can do to prepare is to familiarise yourself with past exam content. 

To read about the recent changes made to Section 1 of the BMAT check out What are the changes to the BMAT Section 1 for 2020?


If you're planning on sitting the UCAT this year, check out Medify's UCAT 2020 Online Course here.

We have a bank of over 10,000 questions, a decision-making section, and 8 full mock exams and 18 mini-mock exams; we even give you performance feedback too.

Or, if you're planning on sitting the BMAT, check out our BMAT 2020 Online Course here.

We have over 1300 Practice Questions, Section 1-3 Tutorials and Essay Plans, Questions, a Past Paper Grader and it works on your phone.

We’ve been lending a successful helping hand since 2009. Medify’s here to support you, just reach out to us.

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