This is a question we get asked time and time again, so we thought we’d devote a blog post to it. The long version of the answer can be found below in the two categories “If you (might be) taking the BMAT” and “If you’re definitely not taking the BMAT”. The short version is as follows: Take the UKCAT in August.
If you (might be) taking the BMAT:
The BMAT is on the 5th of November, so you’d want a bit of time to prepare. The BMAT is a tough exam, and much more content heavy. You’ll need to look through your dusty GCSE books, and practice as much as possible.
We recommend you give yourself a good two months at least before taking your BMAT exam – which means you should take the UKCAT before September. At the same time, you shouldn’t rush to take your UKCAT. We wouldn’t be able to pin down the dates, or even the month, you should take your UKCAT; that’s because it depends on how early you start preparing, how much work you put in on a daily basis, and (to a small degree) your natural ability. You should only take it when you feel ready, and when you’re confident you have done enough practice -you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the best strategies and techniques before walking through the door. Saying that, August is a good month for UKCAT test-takers – it gives you plenty of time to relax after your AS exams, but also sufficient time to drill in those all-important UKCAT techniques.
If you’re definitely not taking the BMAT:
You’ll have less to worry about, so if you happen to be reading this article in August and haven’t started preparing yet – at least you’ll have the rest of September to get on it. We still recommend you take the UKCAT early-ish in August. School starts in September, so you I doubt you’d want extra distractions (homework) before test day. The UKCAT (thankfully) gives you a score as soon as you finish, so you’ll be much better placed to choose the most suitable medical (or dental) school in accordance with your score. As you’ll probably know, some universities take the UKCAT more seriously than others, and some don’t really care (to an extent). We recommend you take your UKCAT earlier because you’ll have more time to carefully choose the right university, and also to polish up your personal statement, before the UCAS application deadline on the 15th October.
Is it really that big a deal if I don’t take the UKCAT in August?
Well, no. We’d just highly recommend that you do. As mentioned before, come September, you’ll be hounded by your teachers for personal statement drafts and you won’t want the UKCAT looming over you – trust us, we’ve been there. But if you’re going on holiday or something and it’s not feasible to do it in August, then sure, take the UKCAT in September. Just make sure you do it early on in September if you can – the result will hugely influence which universities you’ll be applying to, so keep that in mind!
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