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BMAT Hot is it used by Medical Schools?

(50 Posts)
Stokesay Fri 15-Mar-13 18:38:10

My DS is currently keen on applying to 3 BMAT Med schools. It seems pretty high risk as he won't take the test until after his application has gone in.

I read on here somewhere that the 4 BMAT unis use the scores in the 3 sections in different ways, which might spread the risk I suppose.

Does anyone mind sharing how Ox, Cam, Imperial or UCL use the BMAT scores?

Yellowtip Fri 15-Mar-13 19:38:42

Hello again. My DS applied to two BMAT schools (Oxford and Imperial), and two which didn't use either the UKCAT or the BMAT. Two posters on MN have said this was remarkably arrogant (specifically the not taking of the UKCAT) so what they'll make of your DS heaven knows! (my view is that if those are the ones he wants to apply for, wing it, but it certainly is high risk). Clearly he has full or nearly full marks in all his public exams up to now, which will make it a modified risk (that's reading between the lines, apologies if I'm wrong).

Oxford explains in detail how it uses the BMAT on its website, and the explanation is very clear. In outline, it feeds the BMAT results, deconstructed, into the computer along with the GCSE A* results as a percentage of the number of exams taken (and modified for school). The top slice make it to interview and the bottom slice are rejected and the middle band are looked at by a human being and additional factors may, for some of those applications right on the cusp, come into play.

Cambridge, Imperial and UCL are different (and invite many more to interview), but others on here will explain those better than I can myself.

alreadytaken Fri 15-Mar-13 21:29:01

It is high risk. This year I'm aware of an applicant with excellent GSCEs and a reasonable BMAT who wasn't interviewed at Oxford. It also means 2 London universities. There have been some interesting discussions on mumsnet about being a student in London now. Of course if you live in London the high accommodation costs may not be as much of an issue.

Cambridge colleges vary in how they use the BMAT but it's one part of a process that places a lot of weight on AS results. The median AS score for medics last year was, if I remember correctly, 96%. Some colleges probably the less popular ones issued invitations to interview before the results were out. Others place more weight on the BMAT than on the interview. Some colleges do not seem to pay attention to the essay section, others do. Kings has its own essay. One college likes high maths scores. There is quite a lot of published information on the characteristics of those who get places at both Oxford and Cambridge and that includes information on their BMAT scores.

Imperial have a cut off for the BMAT and applicants who exceed that are interviewed. They interview in stages with applicants who have the highest scores normally interviewed first. There is a cut off for each section but the cut off for the essay section doesn't exclude many applicants. The cut offs vary from year to year. The BMAT requirement is likely to be less than that required for Oxbridge. Imperial have a high ratio of interviews to offers.

UCL don't have a cut-off and applicants have claimed to have offers with below average scores. They ask questions about the BMAT essay at interview.

Medical admission procedures have been changing recently and may change again next year. A new section was trialed for the UKCAT this year (but not used in the selection process) and that may change both how it is used and who uses it. University websites didn't keep up with the changes this year. At open days you will soon discover that what medical schools really expect from applicants exceeds the website basic requirements. If you can't attend open days the most up to date and accurate information is likely to be on the Student Room application threads.

alreadytaken Fri 15-Mar-13 21:42:42

sorry I'm tired tonight and not clear. Imperial don't actually interview a lot, if they do interview you have a good chance of an offer.

Yellowtip Fri 15-Mar-13 22:32:05

Tbh *Stokesay two BMAT unis is probably the sensible route if you're in the highest achieving bracket. DS was considering Oxford, Imperial, UCL and Birmingham/ Bristol for some while but reckoned that that was just a soupcon too edgy. He had no particular designs on any UKCAT uni above Birmingham and Bristol so saw absolutely no point messing up the last few weeks of a summer prepping for it. A close friend of his opted for exactly the same unis and got four offers out of four and DS got three out of four (Bristol rejected very early, before interview). If your DS has super stellar results and ticks most of the obvious boxes then there's no particular reason why he should be a UKCAT sheep. He needs one offer only, but it should be a uni where he really wants to study. The better he's done so far along his educational route, the less he should need to compromise.

alreadytaken Sat 16-Mar-13 09:07:03

OP the BMAT is an exam aimed for high achieving young people and the average standard is therefore still very high. Therefore in aiming at 3 BMAT universities your son could be perceived as over-confident and possibly arrogant. In fact it's not quite as much of a risk as people might think because UCL don't require a particular score and the Imperial cut-off tends to be about the average for the first two sections and below average for the essay. However there is no guarantee that an able young man will do well on the BMAT, it's still a risk.

What sort of doctor does he want to be? Young people, encouraged by their schools, can focus on a university's reputation to the exclusion of all else. Sorry being called away, will return later

Yellowtip Sat 16-Mar-13 09:44:35

Stokesay you are going to encounter strong opinions on MN from those who diss Oxford and Cambridge as med schools on the grounds that they aren't 'hands on' initially, in the way many other schools are. This spirals downwards into accusations that those who opt for one or other don't have any genuine vocation, but are merely seduced by dreaming spires, or their Cambridge equivalent. Often there's a bit of a background to the most vociferous though, so it's wise to ignore smile

It beats me how these adults can't give credit to these very bright young people for knowing their own minds. Certainly the students I see at these places are far more mature and far better informed than the vast majority on MN....

The point alreadytaken makes about London was more germane for me: I'm very keen for all my DC to avoid London for uni if at all possible (that said, it's their call, not mine).

alreadytaken Sat 16-Mar-13 10:14:39

If your son goes on the unistats website unistats.direct.gov.uk/Subjects/ByGroup/1
he'll see that Imperial doesn't have a very good satisfaction rating compared to, say, UCL, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Peninsula (although who knows how that will change with the split). Kings were something of a disaster area.

For academic medicine it's still an advantage to have been to Oxbridge but for other medicine the name doesn't matter. He'll meet people who believe the lack of patient contact in the early years is a disadvantage and they may be interviewing him for medical posts. Is he so competitive that if he finds he is no longer the star pupil he'll lose heart? Will he thrive with PBL or would he prefer a different teaching style. Try to get him to see beyond the academic reputation to how a school will suit him.

I don't have much faith in the UKCAT as a selection method but it was needed this year for many medical schools, including those that value good academics. My own child's long list included UKCAT universities and we vistied to see how they liked them.

Yellowtip Sat 16-Mar-13 11:20:47

alreadytaken what on earth has OP done to deserve the comment about star pupil? You know nothing about her son other than that quite reasonably, he's considering three BMAT unis - presumably because he's a high achiever and likes the look of those unis. Seems fair.

If you stopped for a moment and thought about it then you'd see that a student going to Oxford or Cambridge is vastly more likely to move down the ladder of stardom relative to his peers than those of the same ability going elsewhere.... And Oxford ranks the medical students university wide after each set of exams (even the termly collections), so the rank order thing can potentially hit home early and hard. I think you may need to invert your argument; it isn't sound.

Stokesay Sat 16-Mar-13 12:14:24

Thanks for your replies: you have given me some food for thought.
My DS is definitely not arrogant but probably rather naive at this stage. He does have good academics and is particularly interested in research, anatomy and surgery at the moment, although that could all change. He is not too keen on the concept of PBL and would love to experience big city life in London. Putting these together he simply came up with the BMAT choices, not through a belief that he is better than any other applicant or would actually get in to any of them.
I personally feel it would be a mistake not to include at least two non-BMAT options but he seems to have discounted the rest of the UK as less exciting!
One of the advantages of Oxbridge, in his opinion, is the opportunity to go to London for Clinical years.
I know nothing of student life in London so would be interested to hear of any advantages/ disadvantages you envisage (in addition to the obvious additional expense).
We have only ever visited as tourists.

leosdad Sat 16-Mar-13 16:06:07

BMAT medical schools are a little more traditional in their teaching - theory first then get let loose on patients, some of the PBL schools the students are with patients right from the start.
Also the UKCAT is a bizarre test great if you are good at puzzles.

Some of the med schools outside london have placements/clinical sessions quite a distance from the main med school in places that do not always have great public transport. I have heard that students feel the need to learn to drive and get a car to get to these placements. London students have the advantage of being closer to all their clinical placements which can make up for the expense of london living

If your UKCAT score is not great then it is a good idea to stick to the BMAT unis DD did this and applied to Oxford, Birmingham, Ucl and imperial, and is now part way through the intercalated BSc (compulsory at the BMAT med schools)

Yellowtip Sat 16-Mar-13 17:45:11

DS wasn't up to speed with the finer details of the application process for Medicine in Y12 either Stokesay, but that's par for the course. Of course there will be those whose controlling parents have trawled obsessively through The Student Room and every available website etc etc and e-mailed dozens of tutors and won't leave their poor kids alone (a trait which sometimes spills over into uni life from what I hear), but there must be merit in young people finding out at least some of the info themselves. I didn't have a clue myself before DS dug out the info, except for general Oxford and Cambridge related things such as the different selection criteria and how tough it was to get in and what a crazy workload it was. And I knew of the existence of the BMAT and the UKCAT but I've still never looked at a paper because it would be all Greek to me.

It sounds as if your DS has very a very strong academic background. If you look at the Oxford website for Pre-Clinical, you'll see the profile of those who have got offers for 2013. This data is useful in showing what % of A* are required as a minimum to have a realistic prospect of interview, remembering that the figure is adjusted up or down according to the individual school at which the GCSEs were taken. And alreadytaken has mentioned the sort of AS scores that Cambridge offerees have in their three best subjects: it's high smile It may be that he has straight A* as so many do and AS results in the high 90s as so many do, in which case he's spoilt for choice. But the general rule for success seems to be to play to your strengths, within the unis that you think you'd genuinely be happy at. It's worth saying too (since you mentioned the clinical years) that you can transfer out of Oxfrod and Cambridge but you can't transef in. Something to think about if there's a danger you might get sick of the smoke.

Yellowtip Sat 16-Mar-13 17:48:22

Sorry about the very repetition and the Oxfrod and transef stuff smile But I expect you get the gist.

alreadytaken Sat 16-Mar-13 20:08:40

the mumsnet thread I ws thinking of is here www.mumsnet.com/Talk/further_education/1687661-Imperial-University-London

but I have a vague memory of other discussions.

Medicine applications are different to other subjects. There are between 10 and 20 applicants per place at most medical schools and they are often well qualified. 60% of applicants get no offers and that includes some with excellent grade predictions. Perhaps your son has done his research, realises this already and has decided that he will have a better chance of an offer at the BMAT universities but he may need to be warned. It's a stressful process with students in other subjects receiving offers while your son may still be waiting to hear if he will have an interview. If he does get interviews he may wait months to hear the outcome.

This is a link to universities that students consider to have good nightlife university.which.co.uk/advice/top-universities-for-nightlife-as-voted-by-students-477 Your son has to live with his choice but could be encouraged to think about what he finds exciting. London is so expensive he might find he wasn't able to enjoy himself as much as he would in other cities. As Newcastle is considered one of the party universities he should know it requires a high UKCAT. Birmingham university has its own train station and is one stop from the centre of a rather large city smile. Talking to students at other universities is something he might want to do and the Student room website is an ideal place to start. www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Medicine

Leosdad made a good point about transport but where students outside London are required to visit distant locations they are sometimes provided with accommodation. If not they may get transport grants, although students complain they don't always cover the costs.

Although intercalated degrees are compulsory at BMAT universities they are increasingly available elsewhere to those that get good marks/want to do them. As your son is academically able and interested in research you should budget for 6 years wherever he goes.

Stokesay Mon 18-Mar-13 13:28:31

Leosdad- it is good to hear that applying to 3 BMAT Unis worked out well for your daughter. The transport cost during clinical years is interesting - maybe London won't be as expensive as I fear.

Yellowtip- the fact that your DS received offers from Oxford, Imperial and Birmingham but didn't get as far as interview in Bristol shows how variable (random?) some of their criteria must be! DS already has a pretty good idea of which courses are out there, but wants to stick to the 3 BMAT and probably another London one on the basis that those are his ideal choices.
If he gets 4 rejections this year, he'll reapply more cautiously next year. He does like Bristol (good anatomy apparently) but it seems a bit hit and miss on getting interviews from what he has heard. We'll see...
I will try to let him get on with it himself!

alreadytaken- Many thanks for the links, I've passed them on to DS, they look very useful. I'd only come across a Guardian one before. His school has warned the aspiring medics that there is only a 50% chance of them getting in this year, but that most get in on the second attempt provided they get the grades. He is the only one of his group of friends applying for Medicine but hopefully the fact he has a 2 year plan for getting in will alleviate some of the stress ahead.

Yellowtip Mon 18-Mar-13 14:26:28

Stokesay I'm not sure that there's much which is random. I can see a good deal of method in the madness.

leosdad Mon 18-Mar-13 18:02:14

DD said someone in her year got offers from Cambridge and UCL but not even an interview at Keele so I wonder if some of the "newer, less well established med schools" go for students with less academics so any offers they make are more likely to be taken up and not just insurance places in case they miss a grade by a mark or so at A2

Yellowtip Mon 18-Mar-13 19:52:08

I think the med schools towards the upper end have to make shrewd guesses too leosdad. The numbers game is complex.

alreadytaken Mon 18-Mar-13 20:47:38

leave your son to get on with it, Stokesay and one thing you can be farly sure he won't think about is the cost. Newcastle private rent examples here www.ncl.ac.uk/accommodation/private/areas.htm In London you could be looking at 150 pounds a week and up. Over 6 years this mounts up. Students can borrow a little more in London but it won't cover the extra costs so unless they get bursaries they will require either increased parental contribution or a job. After the first couple of years there isn't much time for a job.

When students apply for their F1 posts the name and reputation of their medical school count for nothing, although that could always change. It may influence how other doctors see you but how you perform on the job has much more impact. For other subjects university reputation matters more than medicine, the extra cost of being in London is less because courses are shorter and there may be more time for part-time work. Parents are older, hopefully wiser, and sometimes need to encourage their children to consider things they haven't thought about.

Yellowtip Mon 18-Mar-13 21:47:23

My own view is that it's a long journey alreadytaken and that some universities offer things which other unis don't. Personally, I wouldn't wish to grind my own kids down with financial calculations and emotional stuff of that sort. No uni is impossible financially, nor any course (at least not here in the UK).

And I don't subscribe to the older is better/ wiser mantra either.

Goodness, they've got enough on their plate getting an offer - the other stuff will sort itself out.

funnyperson Tue 19-Mar-13 05:53:59

Here is my twopence worth:

The BMAT isn't particularly hard for a student who is v good at science A levels. Its main purpose is to introduce a level playing field when students have done a mixture of A levels or the IB etc.
If your DC wants to apply to BMAT medicals schools there is no point in doing the UKCAT unless he/she needs the exam practice and motivation to revise.
Apply where one is going to be happiest. Some people like the big city. Others don't.
However London is expensive. Imperial medical students in their clinical years can get into academic trouble if they are not managing financially- and this is not uncommon. The loans and bursaries do not cover the cost. It is very very important for parents to think through the financial support they are going to be able to give their child.

Peninsula, Keele, Sheffield, East Anglia are all less famous and well thought of.

The students all go into the matching programme for jobs at qualification and it is worth looking at where the students from the chosen university get placed and thinking about whether DC would like those places.

Yellowtip's son is vvv bright and totally deserved his place. I just dont understand why some people think it is arrogant to choose good medical schools. And of course some medical schools are better than others.
As to the concentration on science at Oxford/Cambridge/UCL etc. This is fine. Anyone who says any student at an outstanding medical school doesn't get enough clinical experience is most likely suffering from sour grapes.

Stokesay Tue 19-Mar-13 11:41:31

This is all so useful and not information DS could get from a prospectus, or even open day- thank you.
In chatting with DS it has transpired that it was the surgeon DS spent a week with (after much tenacious letter writing) who suggested DS should apply to the BMAT schools. Interestingly, the surgeon said he had some reservations about the local med school's anatomy teaching for medical students interested in surgery.
Out of the various great doctors DS has encountered in work shadowing/ volunteering it seems to be this particular surgeon who has really inspired him and boosted his confidence to apply.
Funnyperson- where could DS find information about where clinical students from a particular medical school get placed? Does it tend to be in the same region as the medical school or can they go anywhere in the UK?

funnyperson Tue 19-Mar-13 13:29:27

Stokesay usually on the medical school website. Alternatively the 'deanery' linked to the medical school will list all the hospital rotations in that area.

Studies have showed that the proportions entering general practice vs, for example, surgery, vary between medical schools.


alreadytaken Tue 19-Mar-13 17:37:18

a study you don't have to pay for - concentrates on surgery but that is the area that seems to interest your son www.readcube.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2482-10-32

Clinical training at medical school is in a specific geographic area, F1 posts may be anywhere in the country.

Helspopje Tue 19-Mar-13 17:58:56

I have interviewed for Pre-Clin Medicine at Cambridge for some years - the applications are by college, not for the whole uni and they all reserve the right to structure and score their interviews as they please. We used the basic BMAT score to generate a cut point and interviewed all above, assigned places to those who were clearly at the top of the tree and re-reviewed sections such as the essay/ethics when trying to decide between applicants for the last few places.

If unsuccessful at the chosen college, the applicants details and scores can be put 'into the pool' so that other colleges can consider them as many unsuccessful candidates have awesome scores, predicted A levels >99% across the board and amazing application forms. Some years I am confident that I wouldn't stand a chance of getting a place were I to have been applying now.

Re. London Schools - it is very expensive to be a clinical student in London and I am not convinced by the standard.

Would recommend he also consider Edinburgh and Bristol if he likes a traditional-style course and considers St Andrews if he is stuck on the concept of transferring for clinical years as a decent number go to Camb/Ox/London schools too, not just the well trodden path to Manchester.

I have to say though, I have been very impressed by the F1s/2s I have met who have come from the 'newer' style schools - partic UEA and Penninsula. For a totally random suggestion, the students and young doctors I meet from the Czech republic schools (which actively recruit from the UK and around Europe and study in English) are downright amazing! Many local students (and many post graduate junior doctors) know a fraction of what these guys seem to consider core knowledge.

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