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Oxford and Cambridge BMAT Score Analysis

Oxford and Cambridge BMAT Score Analysis

BMAT requirements and historic admission scores for Oxbridge Medical Schools
BMAT requirements and historic admission scores for Oxbridge Medical Schools
Nabeel Bhatti
Teacher of Biology (MSc in Biomolecular sciences from King’s College London)
March 9, 2022

What are competitive BMAT scores for applying to Oxbridge Universities?

Both Oxford and Cambridge claim that there is no cut-off for their BMAT score, however Oxford are explicit in stating that applicants should be aiming for an average score of 6.

In 2021, we found that the average BMAT score for applicants successful in gaining a place at Oxford was 5.3, whereas in Cambridge this was slightly higher at 5.5. However, it is important to see differences between individual sections:

Average BMAT score per section for successful applicants

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Historic BMAT scores for applicants applying to Oxbridge

In order to contextualise the data above, it is also important to see how BMAT results have changed over the past 3 admission cycles. We have gathered data to compare average BMAT scores of applicants who were successful in gaining an offer in 2019, 2020 and 2021:

Average BMAT scores by each section of applicants who were offered by Oxford Medical School to study Medicine over the past three years.
Figure 2: Average BMAT scores by each section of applicants who were offered by Cambridge Medical School to study Medicine over the past three years.

Historic Average BMAT Scores in Oxford Colleges

We can also compare the average BMAT scores over the past three admission cycles for students. The data allows us to compare scores of applicants that were offered a place across all the Oxford Colleges in 2020 and 2021:

Average BMAT Scores of successful applicants offered places at Oxford Colleges

Historic Average BMAT Scores in Cambridge Colleges

We can also compare the average BMAT scores over the past three admission cycles for students. The data allows us to compare scores of applicants that were offered a place across all the Cambridge Colleges in 2020 and 2021:

Average BMAT Scores of successful applicants offered places at Cambridge Colleges

The data above can be further explored to compare the average BMAT scores of successful applicants to medicine across both Oxford and Cambridge medical schools over the past three years:

Comparison of the average BMAT scores for applicants successful in gaining admission in either Oxford or Cambridge Medical School over the last three years.

Competition within Oxbridge Colleges

Based on average BMAT scores, Cambridge seems to accept students with slightly higher BMAT scores, compared with Oxford (figures 3-8). However, there are notable differences between their colleges.

For instance, Emmanuel College in Cambridge was amongst the most competitive, offering students a place to study medicine with an average BMAT score of 5.36 (seen over three years), in comparison to Worcester College in Oxford with an average BMAT score of 5.32.

Over three years, St Edmund’s College in Cambridge was amongst the least competitive, offering students a place to study medicine with an average BMAT score of 4.47, in comparison to St Anne’s College in Oxford offering students with an average BMAT score of 4.88.

Future Predictions

Based on historic data, we have set out preliminary predications of average BMAT scores likely to be successful in offers from both Oxford and Cambridge Medical Schools in 2022:

Table 3: Predicted Average BMAT scores by section of successful applicants applying to Undergraduate Medicine in Oxbridge in 2022. Predicted overall Average BMAT Score for Oxford is 5.4 vs 5.7 for Cambridge.

What does this data mean for students?

It’s quite clear the trend of BMAT results of applicants offered to study Medicine at Oxbridge has been steadily increasing over the past 3 years.

Our data shows Cambridge being slightly more competitive, where they offered applicants a place on higher BMAT Section 1 and Section 2 scores (see Table 3), even though some of their colleges have shown to offer students with a lower average BMAT.

In terms of general differences between Oxbridge medical schools, looking at the individual sections, the greatest increases in scores have been seen in Sections 1 and 2 (Figure 1 and 2). Since 2019, successful applicants on average scored about 1 point more in Section 1 and around 0.5 points more in Section 2. Taking this into context, we can safely assume candidates in following admission cycles would need to score significantly higher on these sections. The good news however, is Section 3 results have remained fairly static.

Thus, greatest priority should be made on improving the aptitude and scientific/mathematical elements of the BMAT.

Section 1 Preparation

The questions in Section 1 deal with problem solving and critical thinking. Students may find this the hardest section to study, but there are many ways to effectively study for this section.

Our top 5 tips for students are:

  • Summarise the data. Students need to get into the habit of picking the relevant bits of data from the question, as not all of it will be relevant.
  • Read the question first. It is vital to know what is being asked before moving onto reading a passage of text. Ideally, students should find keywords from the question in the passage to help them find the information they need.
  • Learn mathematical shortcuts. Students who excel at this section often use basic numerical shortcuts that help to boost the speed of their response. Converting between decimals, percentages and fractions are common themes! Students can be reassured that the level of maths in this section doesn’t exceed that taught beyond GCSE level.
  • Use the BMAT syllabus. This is arguably the most important tip. Familiarising themselves with the syllabus will enable students to focus their revision during practice sessions.
  • Practice, practice and practice. This is heavily understated. By practising using the vast BMAT materials online, students can not only pick up trends in questions, but improve speed and confidence. Timed practice is the best.

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Section 2 Preparation

Section 2 deals with scientific knowledge. To do well on this section, students must not only possess a strong science foundation, but also be able to apply their knowledge. This section can be daunting to students, however most content is tested to GCSE – with very few questions requiring knowledge beyond this level.

Again, we have narrowed the top 5 tips to give students the best chance of succeeding in Section 2:

  • Use the BMAT syllabus. This is absolutely essential. The specification covers all the topics that could be covered in this section. Students will be familiar with the majority of the content, but it is essential they are confident with topics outlined in the syllabus.
  • Practice numerical shortcuts. As with section 1, this tip is invaluable. Students won’t have access to a calculator so possessing basic numerical shortcuts will not only improve mental maths, but can also help narrow down answers through quick estimation.
  • Prioritise. Students often get into the habit of revising the content they’re most familiar with. However, it is vital they focus on their weaknesses. If Chemistry or Physics is what they’re struggling with, these are topics that should be focused on first!
  • Develop speed. Section 2 is very time-pressured and this challenge can only be overcome by practising under timed conditions. It may be useful for students to initially start practicing questions without any time constraints, then move to practice under timed conditions when there is confidence of content.
  • Practice, practice and practice. Again, students should regularly refer to past BMAT papers to find trends in the content, gain familiarity and confidence.

Final remarks

Current and historical data supports the conclusion that students need strong BMAT scores for gaining admission into Oxbridge Medical Schools, but this can be achieved with the right focus (i.e. prioritising Section 1 and 2). Students should also be reassured that although Oxbridge Schools put a significant emphasis on BMAT scores, there are many factors, such as GCSE grades which can be taken into consideration before being shortlisted for interview. Each applicant will be judged alongside others within the same admission cycle.

However, the bottom line is the increasing trend of BMAT scores over the past 3 years strongly suggest students need to prepare more in order to boost their chances of receiving an offer to study medicine at Oxford and Cambridge.

We are confident and hope this guide proves invaluable in supporting students to gain admission into Oxbridge.

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