Before returning to my regular schedule of blog posts on new and interesting happenings in the world of medicine and science, I wanted to review one last Oxbridge topic: the admission tests. For the medics, this means the BMAT and for scientists applying to Cambridge, this means the TSA. Some science subjects at Oxford also require a subject-specific aptitude test and you can review this requirement on the Oxford University website.
The BMAT is an important component of your application as a medical student and is based on factual knowledge of mathematics and science to GCSE/IGCSE level. As such, you might be led to believe that no specific preparation or practice is necessary; however, this would be a big mistake on your part! Like with any test, some practice goes a long way in not only improving your scores, but improving your confidence and reducing your nerves when taking the exam. For some, the format of the TSA and BMAT will be quite foreign to many students, more akin to an American SAT exam with large numbers of multiple choice questions to do in a set time. As such, the pacing and style of questioning can be quite bewildering compared to the format of GCSE and A level style exams. I strongly recommend you do as many practice exams as possible, especially under exam conditions; while the short format of some of the questions can appear simple, under the time pressure of an exam, the questions can prove very challenging, with many of the offered answers seemingly correct but in fact just included to tempt you into taking shortcuts and choosing the wrong answer.
For the BMAT, there is an assumption that all the GCSE knowledge required is for the test is safely stored somewhere in the back of your head, waiting to bubble to the surface as required! Doing some practice BMATs may well reveal that some subject matter from your GCSEs may not be so well preserved and may well warrant some revision!
During the summer, you should start to consider what admission tests may be applicable to you. This will depend on your first choice university, as well as college choice. While all medical applicants must take the BMAT, not all colleges in Cambridge may require the TSA for a particular course. Furthermore, the Oxford TSA includes an essay writing section which the Cambridge TSA does not. Start researching now so you aren’t caught with any last minute exam surprises!
If you are doing the BMAT, or any other admission tests, you should start to familiarize yourself immediately with the test. University, college and admission test websites are all good places to start (such as here for the BMAT), and if your school didn’t discuss these with you before the summer holiday, be sure to ask your university advisor when term starts if your school offers any extra support for the admission tests, or perhaps whether they have old/mock tests for you to practice on.
Finally, do head over to the Oxbridge Applications Website, for a range of TSA support services including weekend courses, loads of practice papers as well as one-on-one tuition. You can find out more details by going to the Oxbridge Applications TSA page.
In August, I will be returning to reporting on key stories and issues within science and medicine; till then, enjoy the summer!