How Admissions Tests Differ From A-Levels

May 1, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

Why Do Medical Schools Have Admissions Tests?

When you look at the eligibility requirements of different medical schools you will often see that most schools require you to take an additional assessment test before sending in your application. The most common of these tests are the UKCAT, BMAT and GAMSAT. These tests are in addition to your regular A-levels and are applicable to all students who wish to apply to that school, irrespective of the marks you may have scored in your A-levels.  

The test requirements vary from one school to another and you may need to take different tests for your different choices so make sure you check before you apply. You will need to pay a fee for each test. Some schools may not require applicants to take any test at all.

Pre medical and volunteer programs in ThailandThe Reasoning Behind Admission Tests

You may wonder why you need to take an additional test, especially if you scored impressive marks in your regular academic exams. It’s not surprising really.

Almost all students who send in their applications for admission to medical school would have scored equally high marks in all of their subjects and all would have equally impressive letters of recommendation. While the interview acts as the final determining factor, it is impossible to interview all prospective students who meet the basic eligibility criteria. However, with such a huge pool of highly qualified applicants to choose from, it can be just as challenging to select just a few to invite for the interview.

Selection panels want to ensure that they do not reject the wrong candidates by mistake. Most schools rightly believe that academic success by itself does not make a good doctor. There are other non-academic attributes such as compassion, empathy, critical thinking, managerial skills and good communication that are just as crucial. This is where the admissions tests act as an effective way to evaluate students outside of their academic achievements.

General Features of Med School Admission Tests

The most important thing to know about these admission tests is that they are quite different from your A-levels. Where A- levels test your academic knowledge, admission tests assess how well you think and perform under pressure. To succeed the trick is to answer as many questions as you can as quickly as you can rather than answering a few questions well. Answering a few past papers will help you get the hang of answering the questions quickly.

All of the admission tests are designed in such a way that even students who usually get top grades will find them difficult to complete.

You only get to sit each test once, which is why it is very important to practice answering as many past papers as you can. The results of these tests can make or ruin your chance of getting into medical school. Timed practice is essential and this will help your speed and accuracy.

Most schools and colleges hold these tests. You just need to find out the dates if you are interested in taking them. If you are not affiliated to an organisation that runs the test, you can take it in one of the many open test centres in the UK.