MCAT vs BMAT: What’s the Difference?

February 20, 2024

minute read

Medical schools often require applicants and pre-med students to take a standardized admission exam as one of their registration processes. 

However, not all medical schools or universities use the same standardized exams. It can often confuse students when they notice or hear about various exams, such as the MCAT, BMAT, GAMSAT, etc., among the choices of exams to take. 

In this article, we will focus on the MCAT and BMAT and how these two admission exams, widely used by med schools, differ. 

This article will go through the different exam structures, exam fees, and other characteristics of the MCAT and BMAT. We will give a comprehensive comparison between these two.

What is the MCAT?

The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is an exam generally taken by those students who want to enter medical school and those universities that offer medical degree courses. 

The test’s primary purpose is to assess the knowledge of pre-medical students in ChemistryPhysicsBiologyPsychology, and Sociology. These basic sciences are usually encountered when taking any medical course. 

The MCAT is specially designed for these educational institutions as an admission exam to help them assess their applicant's knowledge and skills. It also allows them to know whether or not students have the required knowledge they have set to pursue such higher medical courses. 

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is the organization that manages and  administers the MCAT. It is a non-profit organization invested in developing medical education, medical research, health care, and more. 

The MCAT is 7 hours and 30 minutes long, with four test sections that emphasize the applicant's various skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and knowledge of various sciences and principles that are significant to the medical profession. 

It contains 230 multiple-test questions and is offered 35 times annually;  it is usually scheduled between January and September.

The MCAT is a computerized exam that gives convenience to its test-takers. It is also recognized widely by distinguished medical schools and universities across the globe. Such as those institutions located in the United States, Canada, Australia, etc.

The four MCAT test sections are:

What is the BMAT?

The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) is a 2-hour standardized examination that is fully recognized and used by universities and medical schools. 

This exam aims to help these educational institutions pick the best candidate for medical, biomedical, veterinary, and other health-related degree courses. 

The test was offered online during the pandemic to cater to students despite the current situation. The test will be given in a paper-based format and must be taken at their official testing centers. 

The Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing (CAAT) administers this exam and is also offered internationally with accessible testing centers. This exam is accepted in the following countries: Canada, Australia, China, the UK, UAE, the United States, Singapore, and more. 

You can take the exam once per year. However, they have two pre-scheduled test dates during the months of September or November.

The BMAT contains three test sections with 35 multiple-choice test questions with an essay writing task.

These test sections solely focus more on the skills and abilities of the applicant rather than content knowledge. 

The objective of the exam is to evaluate the test taker's thinking skills, including problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, data analysis, and mental math skills. 

The three BMAT test sections are:

  • Thinking Skills 
  • Scientific Knowledge and Applications
  • Writing Task

MCAT vs. BMAT: What are the Similarities?

In general, the MCAT and BMAT share a few similarities. 

For instance, these two admission exams are generally part of the registration process for every medical schools and universities. 

These admission exams assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are relevant to taking up a medical degree.

Moreover, they both significantly help med schools select the best and most qualified applicants for them. 

Exam Format and Structure: MCAT vs. BMAT

The MCAT and BMAT differ entirely from each other; these exams have their distinct exam format, structure, length, frequency, and other exam features. 

For example, MCAT has 230 test questions with four test sections, while the BMAT only has 35 test questions with three test sections

The MCAT and BMAT both utilize multiple-choice type of questions in their respective test sections. However, the BMAT has an essay writing test which the MCAT does not have. 

In terms of exam duration, the MCAT is known to be a lengthy test that usually takes about 7 hours and more compared to the BMAT, which only takes about 2 hours.

Furthermore, these two exams are taken on computers. 

In the case of the BMAT, it was offered online and can be taken at home with an online proctor. The setup was like this during the pandemic and followed specific health protocols. 

For the BMAT 2022, the exam will be offered in a paper-based test format, and test-takers need to take the exam in their official testing centers. 

For MCAT, it is still required and needed to be taken at their official testing centers, and taking the exam at home is not allowed. 

The table below compares  the MCAT and BMAT exam structure and format, including their test frequency. 

Exam Format and Structure

MCAT

BMAT

Test Sections

- Biological and Biochemical Foundations


- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems


- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior


- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

- Thinking Skills


- Scientific Knowledge and Applications


- Writing Task

Test Duration

Duration per test section:

 

90 to 95 minutes each 


Overall:

7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

Duration per test section:

Thinking Skills - 60 minutes

Scientific Knowledge and Applications - 30 minutes

Writing Task - 30 minutes 

Overall:

2 hours

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

16 Problem-Solving Questions

16 Critical Thinking Questions

3 Essay Questions

Type of Test Questions

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Essay - Writing

Test Frequency

35 testing dates annually from January to September.

Offered twice a year

Test Delivery Mode

Computer-Based Test

Computer-Based Test (During pandemic)

Paper-Based Test (Starting 2022 exam schedule)

Scoring: MCAT vs. BMAT

The MCAT and BMAT uses different scoring systems. 

The MCAT has a score range assigned to its four test sections, which ranges from 118 to 132 points

Furthermore, the four test section scores will be summed up to get the MCAT overall score. It will be considered the final score for the MCAT, it usually ranges from 472 to 528 points. 

Using the MCAT percentile rank with your overall MCAT score, you will know the percentile ranking of your score compared to the overall scores of its previous test-takers. 

As for the BMAT –  the exam uses a score scale between 9.0 to 1.0 for the two test sections, while the essay test section is scored differently. 

Test section 3, which is the essay part, uses its essay marking criteria. It has three bands which are Band A, Band C, and Band E, that describes the criteria for scoring the essay.

MCAT Scoring

BMAT Scoring

Score Range Per Test Section:

118 to 132

Overall Score Range:

472 to 528

Score Scale:

9.0 to 1.0

Section 3 (Essay)

Essay Marking Criteria:

Band A

Band C

Band E

Below is the BMAT Essay scoring scale, showing the different bands that describe its marking criteria for this test section. 

BMAT Essay Scoring System

Description

Band A 

Good Use of English


-Shows fluency. 


-Excellent sentence structure.


-Great usage of vocabulary/grammar.


-Use the right punctuation and spelling.


-Very few to no errors.

Band C

Reasonably Clear Use of English


-With reasonable fluency level.


-Shows simple sentence structure.


-Fair usage of vocabulary words.


-Acceptable grammar.

Band E

Weak Use of English


-Not fluent.


-Visible flawed sentence structure and paragraphing.


-Limited range of vocabulary.


-Faulty grammar.


-Consistent spelling/punctuation errors

We have provided below the MCAT Percentile Rank from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022. This table shows the overall scores with the respective percentile ranking of its test-takers in this given period. 

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Header

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

Header

Overall MCAT Score

Percentile Rank

472

<1%

Cell

491

19%

Cell

510

78%

473

<1%

Cell

492

21%

Cell

511

81%

474

<1%

Cell

493

24%

Cell

512

84%

475

<1%

Cell

494

27%

Cell

513

86%

476

1%

Cell

495

29%

Cell

514

88%

477

1%

Cell

496

32%

Cell

515

90%

478

1%

Cell

497

35%

Cell

516

92%

479

2%

Cell

498

38%

Cell

517

94%

480

3%

Cell

499

42%

Cell

518

95%

481

4%

Cell

500

45%

Cell

519

96%

482

4%

Cell

501

48%

Cell

520

97%

483

6%

Cell

502

52%

Cell

521

98%

484

7%

Cell

503

55%

Cell

522

99%

485

8%

Cell

504

58%

Cell

523

99%

486

9%

Cell

505

62%

Cell

524

100%

487

11%

Cell

506

65%

Cell

525

100%

488

13%

Cell

507

69%


526

100%

489

15%

Cell

508

72%

Cell

527

100%

490

17%

Cell

509

75%


528

100%

Test Requirements: MCAT vs. BMAT

The registration process for the BMAT is not similar with MCAT, where you only need to process everything online. 

The registration for the MCAT is accomplished online through their official website

In the case of the BMAT, you need to check first with the medical school or university you want to get into if they are eligible to administer the exam. 

If they are not qualified to administer the BMAT, you have another option which is to find their official testing centers around your area. 

However, if the university or medical school is qualified to administer the BMAT, you need to go to their exam officer and process your BMAT registration. 

In addition, for those registering from the UK, you are required to present your UCAS number, a 9 to 10-digit number given during the application for the BMAT. 

The comprehensive table below shows the differences between the MCAT and BMAT with their respective test requirements. 

MCAT Test Requirements

BMAT Test Requirements

For Online Application 


- Make an account on the AAMC website.


- Fill out the application questions and prompts on their website.


- Go to MCAT registration systems and follow the instructions given.


Present the following upon registration: 


1. Any government-issued IDs (must be valid and not expired)


2. ID must contain a clear photo of you.


3. ID must be in English.


4. Accepted IDs include: 


- Driver’s license


- Passport


- Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)


- Employment Authorization Document


- Canada Health Card (For Ontario and British Columbia only)


- Consular ID

- Canadian Aviation Card


5. Submit your academic transcripts
(applicable for high school, undergraduate, and any post-graduate education). Also, it accepts unofficial transcripts but must reflect your full name.

For Registration Process: 


- Find testing centers (check your prospective university or medical school)

- Ask the Exam Officer from university/medical school to register you for the exam.

- Acquire your candidate entry number as proof of registration


Present the following upon registration: 


1. Personal Details (Name, Date of Birth, ETC.)


2. UCAS number (personal ID given only to those applying to UK universities)


3. Name of course/university (applicable to UK applicants only)


4. Accepted IDs include:

- Passport


- Driver’s License/Provincial Driving License


- Student ID

Test Costs: MCAT vs. BMAT

These admission exams for medical schools vary in their exam fees and also with their other additional charges like fees for late registration and others. 

If you intend to take the MCAT, you need to pay around USD 325 for the exam fee. The MCAT has a late registration fee of USD 55. 

The BMAT costs around £75 for those registrations made from the UK and those in Europe, the exam costs €88. On the contrary, the exam fee for those outside Europe and the UK is around £100 or USD 137. 

The BMAT does not accept late registrations for the test after the given registration schedule, thus you do not have to pay any extra charges. 

The BMAT exam fees vary per exam schedule or sitting depending on Cambridge Assessment, which administers the exam. They have the exclusive right to make some changes when it comes to the BMAT cost. 

Below is a comprehensive table showing the cost differences and payment options of the MCAT and the BMAT.


MCAT Fee

BMAT Fee

Payment Modes

Only accepts credit or debit cards (American Express, VISA, MasterCard)

Payments are made directly to the institution/medical school/official testing center conducting the exam.

Cost

USD 325

£75/ €88 (Registrations within the UK and EU)

£100/USD 137 (Registrations outside EU)

Test Recognition: MCAT vs. BMAT

There are many testing centers available worldwide for the MCAT and the BMAT. Also, these two admission exams are recognized and highly trusted by various institutions, universities, and medical schools worldwide. 

The MCAT is highly in-demand by institutions in the following countries: the United States, Canada, Europe, Singapore, Australia, and the Caribbean Islands. 

The BMAT is also recognized and required in some countries, including Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, USA, and the United Kingdom. 

These two exams are mandatory for those international students who intend to enter medical school in these countries. 

Below are some universities and medical schools in the United Kingdom that accept the BMAT:
  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  • Imperial College London
  • Lancaster University
  • University College London
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Manchester Medical School
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Oxford
  • Keele University

Below are some universities and medical schools in Europe that accept the BMAT:

  • Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Netherlands
  • the University of Twente, Netherlands
  • Universidad de Navarra, Spain
  • University of Pecs, Hungary
  • the University of Rijeka, Croatia
  • University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Medical University of Gdansk, Poland
  • Medical University of Warsaw, Poland
  • Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland
  • the Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Poland
  • Vasile Goldis Western University of Arad, Romania
  • Universita Campus Bio-Medico di Roma (UCBM), Italy
  • Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Lithuania
  • Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Medicine
  • the University of Tartu, Estonia
  • Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonia

Below are some universities and medical schools in Asia that accept the BMAT:

  • Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Singapore
  • Chiang Mai University, Thailand
  • Chulabhorn Royal Academy, Thailand
  • Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • Khon Kaen University (Institute of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences), Thailand
  • King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Thailand
  • Mahidol University, Thailand
  • Nazarbayev University School of Medicine
  • Rangsit University
  • Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand
  • Suranaree University of Technology (Dentistry, Institute of Medicine), Thailand
  • Thammasat University: CICM and Dentistry, Thailand
  • University of Malaya, Malaysia

Below are some medical schools in Australia that require the MCAT:

  • Griffith Medical School
  • Melbourne Medical School
  • UQ Medical School
  • Sydney Medical School
  • McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine
  • Queen’s University School of Medicine
  • University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry
  • University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
  • University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine
  • University of Manitoba Max Rady College of Medicine
  • University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine
  • Harvard Medical School
  • Yale School of Medicine
  • Boston University School of Medicine
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Howard University College of Medicine
  • University of South Alabama College of Medicine
  • New York Medical College
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • Saint Louis University School of Medicine
  • Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine
  • California Northstate University College of Medicine
  • George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • …and more

Which is Easier: MCAT vs. BMAT

Both of these exams are difficult bearing in mind that they are used as admission exams for prominent universities and medical schools. They significantly differ with regard to their respective difficulty level.

The MCAT is popularly known to be a very tough test for any medical school. The test questions are based on the different sciences, and it also requires technical knowledge and certain skills, making it extra difficult. 

While the BMAT is also recognized as a difficult exam by its test-takers. It focuses primarily on the application of scientific-based knowledge and skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and more. 

These two admission exams focus on and assess different knowledge and skills of their test-takers. However, the MCAT’s duration added more challenge to the test, making it more complex than the BMAT.

Should You Take the MCAT vs. the BMAT?

Getting into medical school is not as easy as it seems to be. There will be a lot of standardized exams that you need to take, and it depends on where you are going to enroll. 

Some universities and medical schools require specific admission exams for their applicants, among them are the MCAT and the BMAT. 

If you are planning to take up a medical degree, it is best to consider first the university or medical school you plan to get into and check in with them about what admission exam they require. 

For example, universities and medical schools in the UK, including prominent institutions such as Cambridge, Oxford, University College of London, and others, highly prefer the BMAT. 

While the MCAT is commonly accepted and used by medical schools and universities in the USA, Canada, Australia, and other parts of the world. 

That is why it is important to know first what specific exam or admission test you need to take for you to avoid inconvenience. Also, you can prepare adequately for the test, either, the MCAT or BMAT.

Summary Table of Differences: MCAT vs. BMAT

Below is the table of differences between the MCAT and BMAT.


MCAT

BMAT

Test Sections

- Biological and Biochemical Foundations


- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems


- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior


- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills

- Thinking Skills


- Scientific Knowledge and Applications


- Essay - Writing Task

Test Duration

7 hours and 33 minutes, including break times.

2 hours

Number of Test Questions

230 Test Questions

16 Problem-Solving Questions

16 Critical Thinking Questions

3 Essay Questions

Type of Test Questions

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Multiple-Choice Test Format

Essay - Writing

Scoring System

Score Range Per Test Section:

118 to 132

Overall Score Range:

472 to 528

Score Scale:

9.0 to 1.0

Section 3 (Essay)

Essay Marking Criteria:

Band A, Band C, Band E

Test Frequency 

35 testing dates from January to September.

Offered twice a year

Exam Cost

USD 310

£75/ €88 (Registrations within the UK and EU)

£100/USD 137 (Registrations outside EU)

Mode of Payment

Only accepts credit or debit cards (American Express, VISA, MasterCard)

Payments are made directly to the institution/medical school/official testing center conducting the exam.

Additional FAQs – MCAT vs. BMAT

Are the BMAT and the MCAT the same?

Generally, the BMAT and the MCAT have the same purpose as an admission exam for medical schools. However, certain countries do not accept the MCAT and prefer the BMAT and vice versa. 

For example, the MCAT is widely accepted by most medical schools and universities in the USA, Canada, Australia, and other countries worldwide. 

While the BMAT is mostly recognized in Europe, the United Kingdom, and other western countries. 

Another key difference is the test components. The MCAT covers science topics and questions (biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, psychology, etc.) in addition to critical thinking. On the contrary, the BMAT is an aptitude test that tests a student’s writing and thinking skills in addition to a few science subjects (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology). 

Also, the test length for the MCAT is over 7 hours,  while the BMAT tests are shorter.

Which is Harder: the BMAT or the MCAT?

The The MCAT is acclaimed to be a highly intensive and tough admission exam for medical school. Most of its test-takers find the exam questions very difficult, and also its duration adds up to its difficulty level. 

In comparison, many test-takers of the BMAT also find the exam complicated and focus more on applicants' problem-solving and critical thinking skills. 

Considering the depth of topics covered and the exam time, the MCAT is more challenging than the BMAT.

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