Context: Some medical courses in the UK have many more applicants than places and almost all applicants have the highest possible previous and predicted examination grades. The BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) was designed to assist in the student selection process specifically for a number of 'traditional' medical courses with clear pre-clinical and clinical phases and a strong focus on science teaching in the early years. It is intended to supplement the information provided by examination results, interviews and personal statements. This paper reports on the predictive validity of the BMAT and its predecessor, the Medical and Veterinary Admissions Test.
Methods: Results from the earliest 4 years of the test (2000-2003) were matched to the pre-clinical examination results of those accepted onto the medical course at the University of Cambridge. Correlation and logistic regression analyses were performed for each cohort.
Results: Section 2 of the test ('Scientific Knowledge') correlated more strongly with examination marks than did Section 1 ('Aptitude and Skills'). It also had a stronger relationship with the probability of achieving the highest examination class.
Conclusions: The BMAT and its predecessor demonstrate predictive validity for the pre-clinical years of the medical course at the University of Cambridge. The test identifies important differences in skills and knowledge between candidates, not shown by their previous attainment, which predict their examination performance. It is thus a valid source of additional admissions information for medical courses with a strong scientific emphasis when previous attainment is very high.