The Student Room Group

Are UKCAT / BMAT / Interview Preparation Courses useful?

Sorry if there is already a thread on this but I couldn't find one if there is. I'm thinking about paying to do a course for either the UKCAT, BMAT, or interview skills for applying for medicine. However, they advise you on the website not to "waste" your money on these sorts of courses as they supposedly can't help you so I was wondering if they are actually any use? Would anyone who has done any of these sorts of courses recommend them, or vice versa? Is anyone thinking about doing one of these courses and why/ why not?

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Interview practice is very helpful and the materials you get doing the Kaplan UKCAT course are supposedly also very helpful. However you can do mock interviews with a local doctor for free and get UKCAT practice books at a much lower cost than attending a course.
Reply 2
I've booked into a ukcat course this June with a company called 'Medic Journey International', they came to talk at my school and were really good. Course is one day long and apparently it's meant to be useful


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Reply 3
There are loads of courses like this, not just for BMAT/UKCAT but also for med school finals and other post-grad exams. All of them prey on vulnerable nervous students and make an absolute shedload of money in doing so. Do they help? Probably a bit. Are they worth the money? Depends how much you value money i guess, but for most people probably not. You might pick up 2 or 3 tips you hadn't thought of, and get some practice you otherwise wouldn't have done, but realistically you could have just as valuable experience by talking with a knowledgeable friend or reading a book at home. I won't be able to convince anyone out of going i'm sure but ... just calculate the amount of money they're making out of you whilst you're there. The mind will boggle i promise you!

Original post by Helloworld_95
However you can do mock interviews with a local doctor


:lolwut: I don't know where you live but that's not normal!
(edited 11 years ago)
I didn't do a ukcat course, just did lots of practice using the book and medify and I got 735 :smile: so no you don't need to spend money on the courses if you don't want to!


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Hmm, I can't say myself because I didn't attend any of these type of courses. I managed absolutely fine without them, I think there are plenty resources out there to use. However, saying that, they may help some people!

For the UKCAT - just practise, no matter how hopeless you feel. I hated the UKCAT but with months of practice, I improved loads. Used to get like high 500-low 600 scores and ended up with 740 in the end.

Good luck! :smile:
(edited 11 years ago)
Original post by nexttime



"lolwut" I don't know where you live but that's not normal!


Really? I went to a state school and our careers officer liaised with the local hospital so that all of the medical applicants would get one mock interview per real interview plus whatever we could organise with doctors from our work experience.

It's not like there's many medical applicants here either, we had 6 in a year of about 200.
Reply 7
I think some courses are useful but the main way you are going to do well for the UKCAT and BMAT is just by practicing over and over again! There are quite a few useful websites out there that give you free questions and the more you do the better!

The best one I've found so far for the UKCAT is ukcathelp.org which has thousands of free questions which are similar to the exam. There are also quite a few others that you can find on different threads!

Good luck!
If you can find the UKCAT thread from last year, do so because I got soo much out of it! :smile:
Reply 9
The official sites also say that you can't really revise for the tests, but I would have to disagree. From what i've heard from older years, its a lot about the course you go to; a bad course and you're wasting your time (and money) whereas some of the good courses with smaller numbers tend to be very useful. In particular, i've heard that COMA and Blackstone Tutors are good - just waiting for them to release details for this years courses...
Reply 10
For UKCAT i used a 2 week Medify account and it was plenty, would definitely recommend (I told 4 friends about it and we all got 750+ scores! And the 4-5 medics in our school who didnt, got between 680-710. Could be coincidence/ chance but i thought it helped!

For BMAT i went on the BMAT crash course - WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND. For 'only' £60 it is far far cheaper than other courses, plus not only do you get taught all the science knowledge (I didn't take physics so it was a nice quick way of re learning electricity etc) but the best bit is the booklet with past paper solutions (2009-2012 ..but I am assuming they will put the 2013 solutions up for this year too) and they are SO helpful to see how to get to an answer.
Plus, I met the guy who runs the course by chance at PotMed at Imperial, and he recognised me and we had a good long talk about admissions/ life at Camb (he is 2nd year Emma medic) but best of all HE GAVE ME A MOCK INTERVIEW. Damn helpful. Great bunch of guys.

(and yes, they make a hell of a lot of money from the course, I asked him how much they had made that year and i was like WOW WTF at the answer)
Reply 11
Original post by nike141
The official sites also say that you can't really revise for the tests, but I would have to disagree. From what i've heard from older years, its a lot about the course you go to; a bad course and you're wasting your time (and money) whereas some of the good courses with smaller numbers tend to be very useful. In particular, i've heard that COMA and Blackstone Tutors are good - just waiting for them to release details for this years courses...


I haven't been on COMA courses but Blackstone's BMAT course is very good....went last year and was really impressed, especially for section 3 (got 4.5A :-)

Also one of the facilitators I had, was on the med interview panel at Imperial, so got some really gd interview tips off him at the end
Reply 12
I did Kaplan's ukcat course, and I didn't think the course was that useful, but the online materials they gave were fab. Cannot recommend medify highly enough, doing well on the ukcat is pretty much a combination of practice + staying calm during it, and medify really helps you to prepare. Went from getting 580-600 to 770 in the actual thing.Think I had a 3-4 week long subscription.
And as far as interview courses go, they're not going to tell you anything you can't find online/in a book, so it would be better to just ask someone you know to do practice with you, anyone in the medical field would be really helpful.
Good luck!


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(edited 10 years ago)
I think that they certainly could he helpful, but I guess it depends on the course. I know people who went on UKCAT courses and found them very useful.

I didn't go on any, but I do think they could be useful. I think people on TSR tend to oppose them a bit too much. People spend money on lots of things - trying to get a place at medical school is a pretty important thing in life, and is probably more worth money than a lot of other things.
This is an interesting thread. I'll give you my take on the topic.

Preparation courses are not essential in any way. In fact, many argue that they undermine the admissions process, in that the more students are coached for specific exams, the less useful the exams become as a selection tool. But hey, as long as there are entrance exams, there will be a market for people looking for tuition/coaching/whatever, which is why the preparation courses exist.

It's important to say that the people teaching the courses have ABSOLUTELY NO "insider knowledge" that makes them qualified to teach the courses. The guys who teach at Kaplan, Blackstone tutors, Oxbridge Applications (and yes, BMAT and UKCAT Crash Courses) are just medical students (I've met a lot of them in my time at Cambridge).

When you attend these courses, what you're really getting is a short cut to preparing for the exams. For example, you can easily prepare for section 2 of BMAT by looking through CGP guides and finding the relevant areas, and then revising those topics. That is, incidentally, exactly what I did when I was preparing for BMAT, because the Kaplan course wasn't helpful at all and I needed to ensure I knew all the Science they were likely to ask. If you attend the BMAT Crash Course, you get a booklet which basically has revision notes for all 3 sciences in a coherent format, in one place. Is it necessary? No. Is it helpful? Yes.

In that sense, preparation courses are useful because the pre-work, so to speak, has already been done for you. You don't need to spent time finding the resources, you just need to practice. Which brings me to my second point - preparation courses are totally pointless if you don't put the practice in yourself. With BMAT, you might pick up a few extra points in Section 2 because a course taught you some physics that you didn't know before, but with BMAT section 1 and all of UKCAT, there's no way you're going to remember everything you were taught on a one/two-day course without reinforcing it with practice.

A lot of the time, students think of these preparation courses as magic bullets that will instantly get them a decent grade. That is absolutely not the case. If you do attend a course, you need to put just as much practice time into the exams as those who didn't attend - the only benefit is that you've been taught short cuts and techniques for answering some of the questions, and have the resources you need all in one place.

What else do you get if you attend a preparation course? Well, you get taught by people who did well on the exams and they teach you the techniques they found helpful. Did they make these techniques up themselves? Probably not, they just learnt them from a book or the internet, which means you can learn those same techniques yourself without attending the course. Attending the course just makes it easier, because again, the work has already been done for you, you just need to apply it.

At the end of the day, you need to decide if you feel spending money on a preparation course is worth it. I attended Kaplan's BMAT course, which cost £330 and got absolutely nothing out of it (except the 5 papers, which admittedly, were quite useful). I've heard though, that their UKCAT course is much better and actually does help (though it still costs £330, which is an obscene amount of money). The BMAT and UKCAT Crash Courses were created because there was no "lower end" of the price bracket - The £109 that we charge for our courses is still a lot of money, but it's far, far cheaper than the others out there, and judging by the feedback we had from our students last year, our courses are just as good (if not better) than the more expensive ones.

This has been longer than I thought it would, but just to sum up: preparation courses are not necessary, but they are helpful. It's up to you to decide whether that £109 (or £330) is worth it for the materials and the teaching that you get.
(edited 8 years ago)
Reply 15
Original post by photobook
I haven't been on COMA courses but Blackstone's BMAT course is very good....went last year and was really impressed, especially for section 3 (got 4.5A :-)

Also one of the facilitators I had, was on the med interview panel at Imperial, so got some really gd interview tips off him at the end



I have to agree. The Blackstone tutors courses seem to have the best balance between experience and quality resources, without having to pay extortionate fees.
Original post by rd1709
I have to agree. The Blackstone tutors courses seem to have the best balance between experience and quality resources, without having to pay extortionate fees.


What do you think is better. Should I book the Kaplan Course or the Blackstone tutors.
Original post by Razer_M
For UKCAT i used a 2 week Medify account and it was plenty, would definitely recommend (I told 4 friends about it and we all got 750+ scores! And the 4-5 medics in our school who didnt, got between 68-710. Could be coincidence/ chance but i thought it helped!

For BMAT i went on the BMAT crash course - WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND. For 'only' £60 it is far far cheaper than other courses, plus not only do you get taught all the science knowledge (I didn't take physics so it was a nice quick way of re learning electricity etc) but the best bit is the booklet with past paper solutions (2009-2012 ..but I am assuming they will put the 2013 solutions up for this year too) and they are SO helpful to see how to get to an answer.
Plus, I met the guy who runs the course by chance at PotMed at Imperial, and he recognised me and we had a good long talk about admissions/ life at Camb (he is 2nd year Emma medic) but best of all HE GAVE ME A MOCK INTERVIEW. Damn helpful. Great bunch of guys.

(and yes, they make a hell of a lot of money from the course, I asked him how much they had made that year and i was like WOW WTF at the answer)

Hey.. I just wanted to know if you are willing to sell the course material you got. Let me know ! :smile:
Original post by photobook
I haven't been on COMA courses but Blackstone's BMAT course is very good....went last year and was really impressed, especially for section 3 (got 4.5A :-)

Also one of the facilitators I had, was on the med interview panel at Imperial, so got some really gd interview tips off him at the end


Hey.. I just wanted to know if you are willing to sell the course material for BMAT. Let me know. Thanks. :smile:
Reply 19
Original post by Ali Hyder
What do you think is better. Should I book the Kaplan Course or the Blackstone tutors.



They are both good, but overall I would say that Blackstone just edges it, because it offers more personalised assistance (especially post-course)

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