Unwanted and Yet Appreciated: Distance Learning Brings It All

Many medical schools demand that applicants take the BMAT exam; here’s how to prepare.

If you want to study medicine, you may have to take the Bio-Medical Admissions Test (BMAT). Applicants to various medicine programs at certain universities take this subject-specific entrance test. Below you’ll discover important information regarding the test, as well as connections to official Cambridge Assessment assistance. Cambridge Assessment owns and administers the BMAT.

Nobody wanted it and yet it was necessary: ​​the switch from face-to-face to distance learning in the past few months. Someone who has experienced the change as a BMAT participant takes stock. Read about the advantages and disadvantages of online lessons here. And why you emerge stronger from it.

The Medic Mind Online Tutors: Is that something for me or not? I asked myself this question for the first time a year ago. The following points spoke in favor of further training:

  • The wide range of topics,
  • The new campus of the Universities,
  • The exchange of experiences with similarly interested people,
  • A welcome change for me after the first corona lockdown in spring 2020.

Everything is in place, it should start at the end of October 2020. The omens for the regular implementation of face-to-face lessons were soon no longer so good. The second wave broke over the USA. The kick-off of the course took place despite the increasingly difficult situation on site on the campus. The thirty or so participants had enough space in the auditorium to keep their distance from one another. For the obligatory lunch at the start of the course, we also came together under Corona conditions. At least we could exchange a few words with each other. Due to the distance, however, these discussions were also manageable. At this point it was not yet clear that this would be one of only two occasions to get to know each other on site.

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Disenchantment and new pluses

We were able to hold one more day of the course at Medic Mind, then the university switched to distance learning via zoom. Of course that was a bit disappointing, especially when you were looking forward to the campus and the people. Some lecturers seemed a bit taken by surprise at the beginning of the online lectures. Teaching online certainly requires some practice in dealing with the tools and the participants. It is more demanding when everyone is sitting in the virtual classroom. Teaching from home also brought advantages for me. I was much more flexible and was able to organize my private and work life better.

These are the advantages of distance learning:

  • Participation is location-independent. You can even get involved while on vacation.
  • The travel time is significantly reduced or eliminated entirely.
  • The lesson times can be easily coordinated with the work in the home office. You can schedule virtual meetings before or after class.
  • Practical modules that require a large proportion of individual exercises are perfect for remote teaching. Everyone can work at their own pace. If a question arises, it can be discussed quickly and easily with the lecturer and the group via screen sharing.

Of course, the switch to distance learning was a bit disappointing, especially when you were looking forward to the campus and the people.

Even if online lessons offer a lot of flexibility and advantages, the disadvantages should not be ignored: For example, I was able to communicate with the co-course participants much less often than planned. Even if it is only a few minutes during the coffee break or a joint after-work beer: If you have the opportunity, you get to know your colleagues much better than if you can see them on the screen from home.

Here are the disadvantages of distance learning:

  • The exchange with the co-course participants is less personal and less.
  • In my opinion, the exchange of experiences in class suffers significantly in online classes.
  • Group work is technically more complicated in distance learning.
  • It is more difficult for the lecturers to activate the participants in the classroom.
  • The participants are likely to be more reluctant to make their own contributions or requests to speak than in face-to-face classes.

If I weigh the advantages and disadvantages, I come to the following conclusion: A combination of face-to-face and online lessons would be ideal. I envision a hybrid model for the future. In this, part of the lesson would take place virtually per se, possibly combined with digital learning content that the participants work on outside of lesson times.

Why is the BMAT used by some universities?

Some institutions utilize the BMAT to give an additional degree of distinction amongst candidates. The relevance of BMAT results will be weighted differently by each university.

When will you be able to take the BMAT?

The BMAT exam is given multiple times a year. In each application cycle, you can only take the test once. You must take the BMAT test in November if you are applying to a UK institution. There was also a BMAT slated for September, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus quarantine.

What is the best way to prepare for the BMAT?

The BMAT assesses a variety of high-level abilities, including critical thinking, problem solving, and argument construction, all of which you will have honed over your school years. Furthermore, because the BMAT contains a component that tests your knowledge and understanding of GCSE science (biology, physics, and chemistry) and math, you should review these topics.

The BMAT is meant to be difficult for students who want to pursue medicine or other relevant fields. It provides for a wide range of grades, with the majority of candidates scoring in the middle. So your mid- to high-range scores indicate that you did really well.

Especially in times of crisis, rely on further training

Would I do the BMAT course again under the conditions during the pandemic? Yes, I would do it again anyway. Or maybe because of it. For me, the lessons were a welcome change, an enrichment alongside my job. During this time, I worked in the home office.

I would do the BMAT again despite the pandemic. Or maybe even because of the pandemic. Based on this experience, I can recommend further training to everyone during the difficult time in lockdown. In times of crisis in particular, it pays to invest in further training in order to emerge stronger.

Ask the group: What advantages and disadvantages do you see in distance learning? What do you think of hybrid solutions?

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