Admissions tests for medical school
This page outlines the different tests used by medical schools to help them select the most suitable candidates. The test you take will depend on the medical school you apply for. Use the links to find out more about each test.
Many students get the A level grades or equivalent qualifications required for medical school, so admissions tests are another way to help select candidates with the most potential.
Most medical schools expect you to take either the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT), but check entry requirements on our coursefinder tool, in prospectuses or through the UCAS website.
Rather than testing your knowledge, most admissions tests mainly focus on assessing whether you have the range of mental abilities and behavioural attributes considered important for a career in medicine.
Practise, practise, practise
It’s important to practise a few tests so that you are familiar with their format, question style and requirements. Practice courses are available and there are various books with sample tests, including:
- Passing the UKCAT and BMAT – published by Learning Matters, part of SAGE (2015)
- How to Master the UKCAT (2015) and How to Master the BMAT (2015) – both published by Kogan Page
- Succeeding in the UKCAT (2015)and Succeeding in the Biomedical Admissions Test – both published by BPP Learning Media (2012)
Look at the websites given for the relevant test to find out:
- more about the content of the test itself
- how to register
- where you sit the test and when
- test fees and information on fee waiver or reimbursement if you are likely to have difficulties paying
- how you can prepare for the test. The website will also have practise papers
- UKCAT Expand / Collapse
This is the most widely used test by medical (and dental) schools. It’s a computer-based test lasting 2 hours. All the questions are multiple choice. There are sections on:
- verbal reasoning, ie your ability to think logically – 22 minutes
- quantitative reasoning, ie your ability to solve numerical problems – 25 minutes
- abstract reasoning – 14 minutes
- decision making (test pilot for 2016) – 32 minutes
- situational judgement – 27 minutes
Find out more on the UKCAT website.
- BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) Expand / Collapse
This test takes 2 hours. There are three sections:
- a one hour multiple-choice test focused on your aptitude and skills
- a 30 minute multiple-choice test that assesses your scientific knowledge and ability to apply it
- a 30minute writing task based on a topic of general, medical or scientific interest
Find out more on the BMAT website.
- Graduate Medical School Admissions Test Expand / Collapse
The GAMSAT is mainly used by medical schools that offer Graduate Entry Programmes. The test takes a total of 5 hours 30 minutes. There are three sections:
- reasoning in humanities and social sciences – a multiple-choice test that takes 1 hour 40 minutes
- written communication – two 30-minute essays on socio-cultural and personal and social issues
- reasoning in biological and physical sciences – a multiple-choice test lasting 2 hours 50 minutes. Unlike most of the other tests, this assesses your knowledge of chemistry, biology and physics
Find out more on the GAMSAT website.