Everything you need to know about the TMS!

TMS - Test for medical degree programmes

Who in Germany Study medicine If you want to apply for one of the highly competitive university places but don't have the necessary A-level average for the Abitur quota, there's one thing that's hard to avoid: the test for medical degree programmes - TMS for short, also known as the medical test. But what exactly is the TMS, what skills are required, when and how do you register and how do you prepare properly? To make it easier for you to get to grips with the subject, we have compiled the most important facts and some helpful tips about the infamous aptitude test here!

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Everything you need to know about the TMS!

What is the TMS?

The TMS is an aptitude test for medical degree programmes in Germany. It is not only recognised in the application process for human medicine, but also for dentistry and veterinary medicine. Unlike other aptitude and admission tests for medicine (e.g. HAM-Nat, MedAT), the test does not test factual knowledge, but rather puts the participants' visual skills, memory, basic mathematical and scientific understanding, spatial reasoning, concentration and diligence to the test. The test can be taken independently of the Abitur (i.e. before, during or after) and may be repeated once within one year of the first participation.

When does the TMS take place?

The TMS takes place every year in spring and autumn, with two consecutive dates at numerous locations throughout Germany. The autumn TMS in particular offers an additional opportunity for applicants to improve or supplement their test results, as the applicant has had sufficient time to prepare. Registration for this takes place in January/February and July/August. The next dates with the corresponding registration deadlines can be found on the official website of the Test Coordination Centre: www.tms-info.org/fristen-und-termine.

How do I register for the TMS?

The application for the TMS is divided into three phases, with first-time participants applying in phase 1. Phase 2 and 3 are for repeaters, with priority given in phase 2 to those who did not receive a place for their second attempt in the previous round.

Registration takes place digitally via the registration portal of the test coordination office (www.tms-info.org/anmeldeportal ). The participation fee for the test is currently €100 (as of spring 2024).

How is the TMS structured?

The TMS, designed as an aptitude test for medical degree programmes, is divided into seven subtests, each of which tests different skills. The subtests take place one after the other and are only interrupted by a one-hour break after the fourth test.

The TMS starts with the task group "Assign pattern". Carefulness and visual skills are important here, as you have to recognise tiny differences among several, mostly histological images - and under time pressure! To complete all 24 tasks with 5 possible answers each in the given 30 minutes is a real challenge, but can be trained well with a lot of practice and some patience.

We continue with the second test: "Basic understanding of medicine and the natural sciences". In this test, one of five correct answer options must be selected for a total of 24 short medical texts in 60 minutes. Careful reading and a basic understanding of science are very helpful here - but don't worry, although some basic biological knowledge won't hurt, factual knowledge is not necessary. So don't focus your preparation on memorising the contents of the exercise texts. All the information needed to answer the question is given in the text!

In the third subtest "Tube figures", spatial thinking is required above all. Each of the 24 tasks shows two pictures of a transparent cube, in which there is a coiled tube or a knotted rope, from different perspectives. The difficulty lies in finding out from which side you have to look at the cube from the first picture in order to get to the second view. This test also has a very short time limit of 15 minutes, so as with "Matching Patterns": practise, practise, practise!

TMS - Test for medical degree programmes

Behind subtest number four, "Quantitative and formal problems"is a group of tasks that primarily tests the mathematical skills of the participants. You have 60 minutes for 24 tasks and should be able to deal with formulas, conversions, quantities and units. A certain amount of preparation is also very useful here in order to familiarise oneself with the types of tasks.

After the exertions of the "morning part", the well-deserved one-hour lunch break takes place after the fourth test.

After that, it's intensive with the memorisation phase of the memory tests "Learn figures" and "Learning facts" more. As the names imply, these tests are mainly about memory capacity. While you have four minutes to memorise 20 complex figures in the "learning figures" test, you have six minutes to memorise the name, age, profession, a characteristic and a clinical picture of a total of 15 imaginary patients in the "learning facts" test that follows directly. After this memorisation phase, which lasts a total of ten minutes, you have to keep all the memorised information in your head for another whole hour before you have to reproduce it correctly in the reproduction phase. In addition, no notes may be taken during this test.

In the hour between the imprinting and reproduction phases, basic medical and reading comprehension is tested one more time. In the sixth subtest "Text comprehension"You have to prove that you can quickly comprehend even longer texts (approx. one A4 page) and correctly answer the subsequent questions about the text. As with the second subtest, "Basic understanding of medicine and the natural sciences", all the necessary information for answering the questions is given in the text and extensive factual knowledge is not required.

After the sixth subtest has been completed and the previously learned figures and facts have been asked in the reproduction phase of the memorisation tests, we move on to the seventh and final subtest "Diagrams and tables". Here, 24 diagrams and tables are to be analysed and evaluated in one hour. Although the sometimes very complex figures can seem daunting at first, similar patterns and traps can often be found in the questions, which is why, as with the "Quantitative and Formal Problems", it is also highly recommended in this test to familiarise yourself with the exact types of tasks.

During the test, one works in a test booklet in which the tasks and answer options are located. The selected answers must then be transferred to a separate answer sheet for each task, which may only be worked on with a pencil and eraser. IMPORTANTIf the time for a subtest has expired, you must immediately scroll to the next test, scrolling back is not possible. STRICTLY forbidden and will be punished with immediate test exclusion. Since each subtest is printed on coloured paper in different colours, such offences are bound to be noticed and cheating is therefore pointless. You should therefore always make sure that you tick the answers on the sheet at the same time as you complete the tasks. If you do not finish a subtest in time and there are still empty boxes left on the answer sheet, it is highly recommended to simply tick them randomly in order to at least have the chance of a lucky strike or two.

How do I prepare for the TMS?

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, there is no universal secret recipe for perfect preparation. Everyone knows themselves best and should prepare individually! The following tips can provide a framework for those who are unsure how to start, but any deviations from them are also good and correct!

You should not start preparing too early, but ideally not too late either. Depending on the time available and the type of learner, about two to three months should be planned. If you start learning too early, you risk a lack of motivation and a flattening learning curve, but starting too late can also mean stress and not fully exploiting your potential. The daily learning time should also not be exaggerated; practising about three to four subtests per day on 5-6 days a week is usually quite sufficient. A daily combination of visual, mathematical/scientific and memory tests makes sense.

Participants who want to prepare for the TMS can choose from a wide range of materials and preparation courses offered by various providers. While practice books with tips and simulations are highly recommended for preparation, the sometimes expensive courses can certainly be helpful, but are not absolutely necessary.

If you want to save money, you can also buy used materials at auctions, e.g. via Facebook groups or Ebay classifieds. However, you should make sure that the booklets have either only been edited in pencil and erased or that you have only worked with copies. Some publishers of test material also provide free practice material to print out.

The three original versions of the test by ITB Consulting (hogrefe Verlag) are also recommended, although their level of difficulty is significantly lower than the test level, as they are the only material published by the test manufacturer. They are particularly suitable for simulating a complete test under real-time conditions.

To get you started, the TMS Coordination Office also offers a brochure containing the exact rules, as well as examples for all task groups: https://www.tms-info.org/wp-content/uploads/informationsbroschuere_tms-1.pdf

Sometimes it can be helpful to exchange ideas with like-minded people during preparation and thus gather tips and motivation. It is also useful to get in touch with other TMS candidates via groups on Facebook or Telegram, for example, in order to discuss difficult tasks and solutions together. However, the constant input from outside can also promote stress and lead to comparing oneself too much with others. Depending on your type, you might want to look for smaller groups or only join up with individual participants.

TMS - Test for medical degree programmes

Who should write the TMS?

Participation in the TMS is voluntary, but can increase your chances of being accepted. Medical study place but increase immensely. It is relevant for all those who wish to apply via the Additional Aptitude Quota (ZEQ) or the university selection procedure (AdH). On the other hand, it has no advantage for the Abitur best quota or the preliminary quota, which is used by people from non-EU countries, second degree applicants and people with hardship applications, among others.

How does the test day work?

To ensure that the test day runs smoothly and that all regulations are complied with, it is crucial to familiarise yourself with the exact procedures and requirements. The test day starts in the morning between 8 and 9 am at the test location. As admission is not possible after 9.45 a.m. and registration is required beforehand, it is important to arrive on time and to allow enough time for traffic jams, train delays and the like when travelling.

For registration you must absolutely the following items are brought along:

  • the Test invitation (printed or digital)

  • a valid, official Photo ID (identity card, passport or driving licence)

  • for underage participants\innen: the completed and signed Declaration of consent a legal representative (will be sent with the invitation to underage participants\)

At the entrance control afterwards, there are strict rules about what can be taken into the room. Here too there are a few Mandatory itemsthat everyone must have with them:

  • valid, official Photo ID (lies clearly visible on the table during the entire test)

  • two pencils (hardness grade HB, B or 2B) and a Eraser

  • TMS bracelet and TMS label strips (both will be distributed at registration)

Not absolutely necessary, but permitted items are:

  • Marking pens (not for marking on the answer sheet, only as aids in the test booklet)

  • Catering

  • Wallet, medicines, handkerchiefs

  • Alarm clocks, stopwatches (without computer function and without or with optical and acoustic signals that can be switched off)

  • Disinfectant wipes, disinfectants

  • Dress appropriately for indoors (no scarves, jackets, etc)

  • Religious clothing and headgear

  • Pencil sharpener

AttentionAll permitted items may only be transported in transparent containers or in their original packaging (e.g. Tupperware boxes, zip bags for the freezer, etc.)!

In the test room explicitly prohibited articles are:

  • Any electronic items apart from the timer (smartwatch, mobile phone, calculator, etc.)

  • Cameras or camera-capable devices

  • Wristwatches of all kinds

  • Earplugs of all kinds

All other items such as jackets, backpacks, lunches etc. can be handed in at the cloakroom free of charge.

The test itself begins after admission with a detailed explanation of the test rules and the distribution of the test booklets for the morning part. When the booklet may be opened and turned to the next test after completion of each subtest is announced each time and must always be followed immediately. Notes, sketches and marks may be made anywhere in the test booklet - except for the two memory tests - but only the answers on the answer sheet will be assessed.

How is the TMS assessed?

In the TMS, unlike in school, for example, you don't get marks for how much you have done right on the bottom line, but rather depending on how well you have done in relation to the other candidates. A personal percentage value and a standard value (also called test value in the TMS) provide information about how far above or below the average one is. The standard score lies in a mathematical normal distribution between 70 and 130. While the average is at a value of 100, all those with a higher score are above average and all those with a lower score are below average. The percentage rank, on the other hand, indicates what percentage of the remaining participants scored worse or the same. A rank of 71% means, for example, that you were among the best 30%. A grade equivalent is then calculated from this result.

Under the conditions of the TMS, however, one should not over-interpret the result, after all, one is measuring oneself against thousands of other competitors, some of whom are well prepared and motivated, and being "only" average in a group of very good competitors is still very good!

In order to test new tasks for future test runs, there are so-called "scatter tasks" in all subtests of the TMS except for "Learning Figures" and "Learning Facts". These are individual questions that are indistinguishable from the others and must be worked on normally, but do not count towards the score. This ensures that new questions correspond to an appropriate level of difficulty. There are 4-6 questions per subtest.

TMS - Test for medical degree programmes

What result do I need in the TMS?

Which percentage rank is sufficient for a place at medical school depends on several factors and varies from university to university. The respective selection criteria of the universities, the Abi average, completed voluntary services and training, professional experience and several other aspects play a role. If you don't want to go to the trouble of researching and calculating your own chances and the result you need for each university yourself, you can easily and conveniently use the free app "ncrechner". All you have to do is enter your Abitur score and all other selection criteria into the system, which then displays a complete overview of all German universities and your own rank in relation to last year's marginal ranks. By then entering various imaginary TMS results, you can see exactly what percentage value you would have needed for which universities in recent years.

When will I get my results?

The results can be viewed online in the application account from approx. 1.5 months after the test day. They can then be used directly for the next application or, in the case of an ongoing application, submitted later for the coming semester. If possible, the result document should be downloaded and saved directly, as it will only be available online for a few months.

Keeping a cool head - a guide:

For many people, preparing for the TMS is associated with an incredible amount of stress and fear of the future and failure. Especially at the beginning of the preparation, you can quickly feel overwhelmed and frustrated, and you often experience highs and lows as the test progresses. The closer the test gets, the greater the threat of exam anxiety, time pressure and ever-increasing excitement. First things first: you are not alone! Almost all other candidates are probably going through the same emotional chaos as you, because you all have the same goal in mind. However, it is still important to deal with the difficult feelings and negative thoughts and to discuss them with family and friends if possible, but possibly even in a professional setting, for example with a therapist. If in doubt, there is no shame in deciding against or in favour of taking the test at a later date despite registering and preparing, because no test or study in the world is worth risking your mental health for! Perhaps it can help to familiarise yourself a little with possible Alternatives to studying medicine (in Germany) in order to recognise that there is not just one right path into medicine.

Frequently asked questions

FAQs about the TMS

The TMS (Test for Medical Studies) is an aptitude test for medical studies in Germany. It tests the participants' visual abilities, retentiveness, basic mathematical and scientific understanding, spatial reasoning, concentration and diligence.

The TMS can be written by all prospective students irrespective of the Abitur.

The TMS takes place every year in spring and autumn with two consecutive dates each at numerous locations in Germany.

Registration takes place digitally via the registration portal of the test coordination office (www.tms-info.org/anmeldeportal). The participation fee is currently 100€.

The TMS consists of seven subtests that test different abilities. The subtests take place directly one after the other and are only interrupted by a one-hour break after the fourth test.

The TMS tests visual skills, memory, basic mathematical and scientific understanding, spatial reasoning, concentration and diligence.

It is recommended to start preparing about two to three months before the test. You can use practice books, take preparation courses or use online resources and practice materials.

Yes, the TMS may be repeated once within one year after the first participation. In case of a repetition, both results are valid.

Cheating is strictly forbidden and will be punished with immediate test exclusion.

Notes are not allowed during the memorisation tests, which contain information for later retrieval.

You should still move on to the next test. It is advisable to tick all the remaining boxes on the answer sheet at random to have a chance of getting some correct answers.

There are a variety of materials and preparation courses from different providers. You can use practice books, simulations and even online courses.

You can find the dates and deadlines on the official website of the test coordination office at www.tms-info.org/fristen-und-termine.

The duration of the TMS varies depending on the subtest, with a total time of about one day including breaks.

No, the TMS does not test factual knowledge. All the information needed to answer the questions is given in the test items.

The TMS is not evaluated according to the number of correct answers, but according to the ratio to the other candidates.The score is evaluated by the teacher. A personal percentile rank and a standard score provide information on how far one is above or below the average. The standard score lies in a normal distribution between 70 and 130, with 100 being the average. The percentage rank shows how many percent of the other participantsThe results of the other students were either worse or the same.

Interspersed tasks are individual questions in all subtests of the TMS except "Learning Figures" and "Learning Facts". These questions are indistinguishable from the others and must be completed normally, but are not included in the scoring. They are used to test new items for future test runs and to ensure that they are of an appropriate level of difficulty.

The required percentage rank for a place at medical school varies depending on the university and can depend on various factors such as A-levels, completed voluntary work, training, work experience and other aspects. A helpful app for calculating your own chances is the "ncrechner".

The results can be viewed online in the application account approximately 1.5 months after the test day and can be used for the next application or submitted later in the case of an ongoing application. It is recommended to download and save the result document immediately, as it is only available online for a few months.

A grade equivalent is calculated from the percentile rank and the standard score. This indicates how well one performs compared to the other candidates.inside has performed. However, it is important to remember that the result should not be over-interpreted, as one is competing with thousands of other candidates, some of whom are well prepared and motivated.measures inside.

With the app "ncrechner"you can enter your Abitur score and all other fulfilled selection criteria. The system then provides a complete overview of all German universities and your own rank in relation to last year's marginal ranks. This way you can see exactly what percentage rank you would have needed for which universities in recent years.


We hope that this summary has given you a good overview, but we are always happy to receive suggestions and questions on this or other topics related to studying medicine. If you are preparing for the test or are already in the middle of it, we wish you much success and perseverance!

This article was written by Maria Kieschke.

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