If you’re aspiring to study medicine, be it in Singapore or overseas, one essential part of your application to medical school that you might need to start thinking about is whether to take the BMAT, UCAT, or both. In this article, we’ll discuss some factors to take into consideration when making this decision, especially as a Singaporean student.
Every few years, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) releases an updated list of medical schools which they recognise, meaning that graduates from these schools are eligible to apply to practise medicine in Singapore. In January 2020, the list was reduced from 160 to 103 schools, indicating that the SMC is getting more selective and that fewer qualifications are being accepted in Singapore. If you are planning to practise medicine in Singapore after graduating from medical school or want to have the option to eventually apply for medical registration, it is imperative that you apply for schools that are recognised by the SMC. You can visit the official SMC website to view the current list of accepted qualifications.
So how does this relate to your decision to take the BMAT or the UCAT? When choosing which schools to apply to, you will want to verify which schools require the BMAT or the UCAT, and which of these schools are recognised in Singapore. Only taking the BMAT would limit you to three top-ranked medical schools in the UK: University of Cambridge or Oxford, University College London, or Imperial College London. For this reason, some students choose to only apply for schools that require the UCAT, as this gives them more options, 15 to be precise, that are SMC-approved.
Although some prefer to solely focus their efforts on the UCAT or BMAT, many also decide to take both exams. The BMAT and UCAT are tough in their own ways: while the BMAT tests you on three sciences and has an essay component, the UCAT is also challenging because it tests you on speed. Depending on whether you have the time to study for both exams, taking both the UCAT and BMAT may be advisable, especially if you’re aiming for acceptances at the BMAT schools and cannot be too sure of your chances. Having both BMAT and UCAT scores to fall back on may also be ideal for students who would rather not take a gap year or for those who wish to have more options to choose from.
For those of you who are planning to stay in Singapore to study medicine, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine is a partnership between NTU and Imperial College London that you’ll definitely want to consider. The admissions requirements include the BMAT, which you’ll need to plan for in advance. The BMAT test in Singapore happens in November every year and this period tends to clash with the Singapore A-Levels and the IB November Session. We would recommend that you prepare a few months in advance to avoid scrambling at the last moment whilst preparing for your major exams.
Of course, this programme is extremely selective and more than 1,000 applications are submitted yearly for only 150 spots. Fellow Singaporeans intending to pursue Medicine will most likely be applying to this school and you’ll want to have alternative options available in the event that you’re not accepted. As previously mentioned, the BMAT is not an easy test and is often a key factor in deciding if you proceed onto the interview/MMI stage, and not obtaining a competitive score of 6 in Sections 1 and 2 might preclude you from all SMC-approved schools that require the BMAT. As such, you may want to consider taking the UCAT or ISAT if you’re thinking about studying in Australia.
In case you didn’t know, the other undergraduate medical programme offered in Singapore at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine requires neither the BMAT nor UCAT. For those of you intending to pursue Medicine at the graduate level, the Duke-NUS Medical School is a great option to consider and requires all applicants to submit scores from the MCAT or GAMSAT.
Apart from the two major factors that Singaporean students will need to consider above, when it comes to taking the BMAT or UCAT, there are other things that applicants may want to keep in mind. This will include the difficulty of the tests and the amount of time you’re able to dedicate to studying for the tests. When conducting your research on individual schools, you’ll need to decide if you’d rather settle for a less-favourable school in case you don’t obtain high enough scores, or if you’d rather take a gap year and resit the test.
In the end, which schools you apply to, and which test you take boils down to your own ability and whether or not you’re prepared for whatever score you might get. Applying for university is never an easy or simple process, so discussing your options with family or seeking advice from professionals is certainly a conversation you should be having when making such an important decision. We at ICON+ are here for you during your admissions journey, whether you’d like to take a free diagnostic test or schedule a free consultation with one of our coaches. We hope we’ve provided some useful information and wish you the best of luck with your applications!
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