University Admissions Tests: A Complete Guide

University Admissions Tests
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As if achieving top notch A Level grades wasn’t hard enough, some universities will also require you to take university admissions tests to gain access to your favourite courses. No one said it would be easy!

Admissions tests are designed to challenge you in a way that your A Levels haven’t, and sometimes even test your critical thinking and problem solving. These tests ensure that universities are getting the creme de la creme of applicants.

Some admissions tests are fairly well known and adopted by lots of universities, whilst some are lesser known with only one or two using them in the recruitment process. Most universities will state in their admission requirements which tests are relevant for the course you are applying for, but if you’re not sure make sure you contact the admissions department for more details.

The tests are usually held right at the beginning of the academic year with some completion deadlines being as early as the 15th October. If you’re applying to Oxford or Cambridge then it’s more than likely you’ll need to take some form of aptitude test as part of your application. It’s also likely that you’ll need to take a test if you’re hoping to study law, mathematics or medical courses.

So, before you leave it too late read all about the types of admissions tests you are likely to come across and see which universities and courses use them…

Jump to:       LNAT      |     MAT      |      STEP      |      BMAT      |      UKCAT     |     GAMSAT


What is the LNAT?

The LNAT is a computer based test used by universities to check that you’ll succeed on a law course. The test is also useful to help ensure that law is the right course for you. The LNAT stands for “Law National Aptitude Test”. To help you decide if studying law is right for you, we have pulled together everything you need to know about a law course in our Law Degree Guide.

What does the LNAT test?

In the LNAT test you will be tested on your verbal reasoning skills, your ability to interpret information, inductive and deductive reasoning, and your analytical skills. Note that the LNAT test does not test your intelligence or your knowledge of law.

When do I take the LNAT test?

It is advised that you take the LNAT as soon as possible in the academic year so that you can maximise your chances of getting the test venue that you want, and to make sure it’s before your admissions deadlines.

How much does the LNAT cost?

In the UK it costs £50 to take the LNAT test, however, you may be exempt from this payment and you are advised to visit the LNAT website for more information. For example, if you receive the 16-19 Bursary you will be eligible for a free LNAT test.

LNAT Preparation

It is virtually impossible to prepare for the LNAT, however students can familiarise themselves with the style of the test for free using the LNAT website. The test takes 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete and is split into two sections.
Section A is made up of 42 multiple choice questions based on argumentative passages, with 95 minutes being allocated to this section of the test. Section B consists of three essay questions which require you to demonstrate your abilities to argue cases and come to conclusions.

LNAT Results

Your results will be seen by the university before you see them and they will be used variously depending on the university that you are applying to. The LNAT scores will work cohesively with other entry requirements such as A Level Grades and a personal statement, but each university will use the LNAT differently.

You will see your LNAT tests either in February if you have completed the test before the 20th January, or August if you completed the test after January.

Which universities use the LNAT?

The following universities offer courses that may require you to take the LNAT as part of your entry requirements*:

*This data was gathered in September 2017 and may be subject to change. You are advised to visit your chosen university’s website for more details.


What is the MAT?

MAT stands for Mathematics Admissions Test and is a paper based test used to test subject specific knowledge of potential students on courses that require a mathematical input. This could include mathematics degrees or engineering based subjects. For both degrees you will be faced with other entry requirements and you can find out more details about mathematics entry requirements with our mathematics degree guide.

When do I take the MAT test?

The MAT usually takes place in early November with this years test date being Thursday 2nd November 2017. The test starts at 9am and lasts for 2 hours and 30 minutes. You will normally be required to take this test at your own school or college. You will be required to submit your entry to the test by the 15th October.

Cost of MAT

Depending on the MAT centre that you use, the cost may vary. If you are using the University of Oxford, Imperial College London or the University of Warwick you will not be required to provide payment for the test. You may be required to pay an administration fee for other MAT centres so you are advised to visit the MAT website for more details.

MAT Preparation

To prepare for the MAT test you are advised to familiarise yourself with the syllabus and test format and you can do this by downloading past papers from the MAT section of the University of Cambridge website. Most universities that require the test will also feature further information and preparation tips on their website.

MAT Results

Your MAT results will be shared with the university you are applying to as part of your application and if you wish to see your results you are advised to contact the mathematical department/ faculty at your chosen university.

Which universities use the MAT?

The following universities offer courses that may require you to take the MAT as part of your entry requirements*:

*This data was gathered in September 2017 and may be subject to change. You are advised to visit your chosen university’s website for more details.


What is the STEP?

The STEP test is a mathematics aptitude test which stands for “Sixth Term Examination Paper”. The test consists of three separate papers, each taking three hours to complete. Depending on the university you are applying to you may only be required to take one or two of the three examination papers. The STEP test may be used for other subjects than just mathematics, with engineering related subjects also requiring a mathematical input.

You are reminded that other entry requirements will be considered as part of your education, and you can check out a breakdown of mathematics entry requirements using our handy degree guide.

When do I take the STEP test?

Unlike the MAT test, the STEP test is taken later in the UCAS cycle. Entries for the STEP test do not open until the end of February, with the tests being taken in June. This year test 1, 2 and 3 were taken on the 8th, 12th and 22nd June.  

Cost of STEP

The cost of the STEP may vary depending on the time in which you apply for the test. If you enter on time (before the end of April) your standard entry price will be £49. If you apply via late entry your cost will be £18 more expensive than the standard paper.

STEP Preparation

You are advised to familiarise yourself with the test’s format and style before taking the test. Mathematics tests 1 and 2 both consist of 13 questions (8 pure mathematics, 3 mechanics and 2 probability and statistics). These questions are based on A Level Mathematics content and you are only required to choose 6 questions in total to answer.

The third mathematics paper is also made up of 13 questions of the same topics, however, they are based on A Level further mathematics content. This test also requires you to choose 6 questions to answer.  

To fully prepare for the STEP test you can refer to the Admissions Testing Service website where you will find past papers, further resources, and marking schemes.

STEP Results

Grading for the STEP follows these five possible grades:

S – Outstanding

1 – Very Good

2 – Good

3 – Satisfactory

U – Unclassified

The results of the STEP will be provided to the university as part of the admissions process and the university will use the results as they seem suitable. Students will not receive their results until the A Level results day where you can view your results on the candidate online system.

Which universities use the STEP?

The following universities offer courses that may require you to take the MAT as part of your entry requirements*:

*This data was gathered in September 2017 and may be subject to change. You are advised to visit your chosen university’s website for more details.


What is the BMAT Test?

The BMAT test is an admissions test for those students wishing to study courses that are in the medical, biomedical science and dentistry areas. For some universities the BMAT test is required as an entry requirement. The test is a 2 hour written test consisting of three sections.

Alongside the BMAT test you will be required to have achieved other entry requirements. To help you understand the entry requirements further you can take a look at our medicine degree guide and dentistry degree guide.

BMAT Questions

The test is divided into three sections. The first section contains 35 multiple choice questions which take 6 minutes to complete. This section tests your problem solving skills, data analysis and your understanding of arguments.

The second section has 27 multiple choice questions and should take you no longer than 30 minutes to complete. For this section you will be required to apply your scientific knowledge gained from science and mathematics at GCSE level.

The final section of the test challenges students by requiring them to choose a writing task from three options, and demonstrate their written communication skills. You will be given 30 minutes to complete this section of the test.

BMAT Test Dates

The BMAT is usually taken by students at the start of November, with students having to apply for the test by the middle of October. The admissions testing service has also started to offer the test in September so that students can receive their results before applying to UCAS.

The test held in September is exactly the same format as the one held in November, and so it is up to when you would like to take the test. However, you must note that the University of Oxford only accepts BMAT results from the November session.


The standard entry fee to the BMAT test costs £46 if you are from the EU (including the UK). If you are from outside the EU then the standard entry fee is increased to £78. If you apply to the BMAT late then you will incur a late entry fee of an additional £33.

You may be exempt from payment if you meet certain criteria, such as if you receive the 16-19 bursary, you are granted educational maintenance allowance, you receive a full maintenance grant, you receive income support, or you are entitled to free school meals.

BMAT Results

The results of the BMAT are used in different ways by different institutions therefore there is no real pass or fail threshold. In sections 1 and 2 the questions are worth 1 mark each. These marks are then converted into the BMAT scale running from 1-9 (low to high), with most students being graded around 5.0 which is the equivalent to half of the total marks. Exceptional candidates will score 7.0 and above overall on these first two sections of the test.

The third section of the test is graded on both the quality of the content, and the quality of the written English. The content is graded on a scale of 0-5 and the English is graded by awarding the letter A,C or E.

The results of the BMAT test will be available to students a few weeks after the test was taken. They are available to download online, however are only available to download for 60 from the release date.

BMAT Preparation

As the test challenges your current skills and knowledge there is not a lot of extra study required for the examination. However, if you are looking to prepare for the BMAT you can download practice papers to get example questions and learn how to approach them. This will also give you some experience with working to the timed conditions of the examinations.

You can also familiarise yourself with the scientific and mathematical skills needed for section 2 by revisiting topics you covered in your GCSE examinations.

BMAT Universities

The BMAT test is used across the world for medicine, biomedical and dentistry courses. In the UK you may be required to take the test as part of your entry requirements for the following universities*:

*This data was gathered in September 2017 and may be subject to change. You are advised to visit your chosen university’s website for more details.


What is UKCAT?

UKCAT stands for “UK Clinical Aptitude Test” and is an admissions test used by some universities in the UK as part of the entry requirements to medical and dental courses. It is a computer based test that challenges your mental abilities, professional behaviours and personal attitudes.

You are reminded that these courses will have other entry requirements and you are advised to use our medicine degree guide and dentistry degree guide to see a breakdown of typical entry requirements.

UKCAT Questions

The test takes two hours to complete and contains five sections of multiple choice questions. The first section of the test is a verbal reasoning exam. This consists of 44 questions that have to be completed in 22 minutes. You will be required to critically evaluate passages of writing.

The second section is based on your ability to make judgements and decision making. You will have to answer 29 questions in 32 minutes for this section.

Your skills of quantitative reasoning will be assessed in the third section of the test with 36 questions being presented in numerical form. You will have 36 minutes to complete this section of the examination.

The fourth section of the test is focused on abstract reasoning and takes 14 minutes to complete. You will have 55 questions to answer on this section.

The final part of the test measures your understanding of situational judgement. It tests your capacity of real world situations and the behaviour required to deal with them. This section is 27 minutes long and is made up of 68 questions.

UKCAT Preparation

As this test does not require you to demonstrate your scientific abilities you are not expected to revise these topics. However, you should prepare for the UKCAT by looking at practice tests and questions to familiarise yourself with the format and time restraints of the test. You can also access preparation materials on the UKCAT website and mobile app.

UKCAT Dates and Fees

Registration for the UKCAT examination opens in early May and closes in the middle of September. You can take your test any time between the start of July and the beginning of October.

If you are taking your test between July and August your test fee will be £65, and will be increased to £85 if you take it between September and October. You may be eligible for a reduced fee if you are part of a bursary scheme.

UKCAT Results

When you have finished the test you will be given your UKCAT Score Report straight away. These results are valid only for the application cycle that you are currently in and will be provided to your chosen universities in the first week of November by the UKCAT testing service.

UKCAT Universities

Universities that use the UKCAT in their entry requirements for their medical and dental courses include*:

*This data was gathered in September 2017 and may be subject to change. You are advised to visit your chosen university’s website for more details.


What is the GAMSAT?

The GAMSAT examination is an admissions test taken by those students that wish to undertake postgraduate level courses in medical schools. It stands for “Graduate Medical School Admissions Test” and is used in the UK, Ireland and Australia.


The test is split up into three sections. The first section should take you no longer than 1 hour and 40 minutes and consists of 75 multiple choice questions. The aim of section one is to test your interpretation and understanding of social and cultural contexts. This will be presented to you in written paragraphs, visual images and also tables of data.

The second section requires students to produce two written essays within 60 minutes. This section tests your ability to create ideas and produce written content based on this.

The last section of the test is two hours and 40 minutes long and consists of 110 multiple choice questions. You will be tested on your scientific knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics, with the level of knowledge applying to the content that would be covered in an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry, and A Level knowledge gained from a physics degree.

GAMSAT Preparation

Preparing for the GAMSAT requires students to explore their existing understanding of biology, chemistry and physics at the undergraduate level and A Level syllabus. To aid this, you can access the four booklets of practice that are provided by the examination board; ACER.

It is also worth familiarising yourself with the timed constraints of the test and practice your comparative written skills for the essays required in section two of the exam.

GAMSAT Scoring System

Your overall score from the GAMSAT examination is calculated by:

(1 x section 1 + 1 x section 2 + 2 x section 3) / 4

The score that you gain from the GAMSAT will be valid for two years and therefore can be used for two application cycles.


Students can apply to take the test in March and September, with registration opening in late May and closing in July. Results are posted online before the UCAS closing date and will also be published to the medical schools that you are applying to.

Universities that use the GAMSAT

In the UK there is a small cluster of universities that use the GAMSAT for their graduate medical school applications process including*:

*This data was gathered in September 2017 and may be subject to change. You are advised to visit your chosen university’s website for more details.