How Oxford use the BMAT and GCSEs - a guide to undergraduate Medicine (A100) applicants

Whoever told you that getting loads of A*s at GCSEs don't matter when it comes to Medicine is probably right. That is, if they aren't applying to Oxford. Or Birmingham. Or Cardiff. I'm sure you get the picture by now, but if you are lucky enough to have a really strong performance at GCSEs, then read on for some more information about how Oxford will view your application.

Oxford mainly use the BMAT and GCSE performance in determining whether an applicant will be invited to interview. Therefore, if you have an amazing GCSE performance, such as having all A* grades, then your BMAT score does not need to be as high compared to somebody who has 80% A* grades at GCSE.

The BMAT Score

The weightings for each section are: section 1=40%, section 2=40%, and section 3=20%. In calculating the section 3 score, double weight is ascribed to the ‘Quality of content’ score and single weight given to the ‘Quality of English’ score (with A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2, E=1, and X=0). For 2015 entry, the mean BMAT score for applicants short-listed was 64% (about 6.0 6.0 3.5A).
  • Section 1 and section 2 - take your score (from 1-9) and minus 1, then multiply by five to get your score out of 40. 
  • Section 3 - double your quality of content score and add on your quality of english score (A=5, B=4 and so on) to get a score out of 15. Multiply this by 4/3 to get the score out of 20. 
  • Add up the scores from sections 1, 2 (out of 40) and 3 (out of 20) using this method. The result is a score out of 100 which is the percentage that Oxford look at. 
The average BMAT score for all applicants was 5.01 5.03 3.12 in sections 1, 2 and 3 respectively. These numbers rose to 6.04 5.93 3.52 for interviewees.
The GCSE Score

GCSEs were scored by combining the number of A*s you got, and the percentage of A*s you got (each was given equal weighting). For those shortlisted who had taken GCSEs, the mean number of A*s at GCSE was 10.3 and the mean proportion of A*s at GCSE was 0.94 (2015 entry).

Based on some data from a FoI request (link below), the average number of A*s for all applicants was 8. This rose to 9.6 for those interviewed. As for the percentage of A*s that applicants received, this was 77% for all applicants, but 90% for those interviewed.

Further Insights
Note that this isn't official, but is based on data from a FoI request

The BMAT score (out of 100) and the percentage of GCSEs (which is what Oxford used for 2013 entry applications) are equally weighted I believe. So if we multiply the percentage of GCSEs by 100 and add it to the BMAT score, we get a combined score for both. If we look at this score, it seems like a score of 156+ should get you on the initial shortlist - it seems like most people that achieved this score or above got an interview invite. 
Oxford say that after the initial shortlist, they invite some more people to interview. So they would look into your application in more detail, and invite a few more. About half of the applicants that got 150+ were invited to interview, and a few people that got lower got an interview as well. 
For those that didn't have GCSEs, Oxford said that they will use the BMAT score alone. From these applicants, it seems like most applicants with a BMAT score of 62+ were invited for an interview (although a few applicants that got around 62ish didn't get an interview, so the actual cutoff may be higher?)

Lets put this into real world numbers. So based on my scoring system, here is a list of the percentage of A*s at GCSE and the corresponding rough BMAT you would need to gain a score of 156:
  • All A*s at GCSE - 5.48 5.48 2.8 C or 5.0 5.0 3.5 A
  • 90% A*s at GCSE - 6.28 6.28 3 B or 5.9 5.9 4 A
  • 80% A*s at GCSE - 7.08 7.08 3.8 B or 6.9 6.9 4 A
  • 70% A*s at GCSE 7.88 7.88 4 A
So as detailed above, if you have 70% A*s at GCSE, you would need a ridiculously high BMAT to gain 156. Therefore, you would probably need to have a very strong UCAS application (aside from GCSEs and BMAT), as this will form a more significant part of the decision as to whether you get an interview invite. Remember that in this situation, you would still need a strong BMAT (if you got 4/5s, then you probably wouldn't get in), but it doesn't need to be absolutely ridiculous!

Of course, nothing is guaranteed... 
So, you have stellar GCSEs and are feeling pretty confident about the BMAT. I wouldn't get excited too soon, because Oxford have one of the toughest interview stages of any medical school based on applicant numbers. They invite 425 people for interview, but only 1/3rd of these will end up with an offer. So unfortunately, the hard work won't stop when the BMAT is over - be ready for the grilling of your life when you spend those two days in Oxford!

Please note that none of this information is from Oxford university itself - this is purely based on my own analysis of the data from a Freedom of Information request.
The admissions process has changed slightly, and you can get slight differences in the students that apply year on year, so the numbers may not necessarily reflect what will happen this year.
I am purely writing this because I was just doing it for my own interest, and I feel that one or two of you out there may also find it interesting to see what the data might show.
Please don't use this alone as a tool to identify whether you think you will get in or not! The process is actually probably more complex than what I have described - there are so many other factors to consider, and none of this will guarantee you an interview/offer. 


  1. hiya!
    could you right a blog post on how to ace/ prepare for medical school interviews??

    PS i love your blog


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