BMAT Section 1 Tips
Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing is the official BMAT website with lots of official BMAT materials. Most importantly, this involves several official BMAT mocks for each section. Depending on how long you set aside for BMAT prep, this could mean that you can do more than one official BMAT mock for each section per week. Doing this allows you to get a real feel for the exam and track your progress over time. It might be worth saving a few official mocks for close to the exam date, but don’t worry about hoarding too many! There are also official guides to each section and further reading.
Section 1 of the BMAT involves problem solving questions (use of numeracy) and critical thinking questions (written language). In order to target your practice towards your weaknesses, it is important to identify which of these you find harder and the types of questions you find harder. The BMAT is time-pressured, so it is also worth knowing which types of question you can do faster and more accurately if time is running short at the end of the exam. The resources on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website are very useful for this.
Critical thinking in section 1 is probably one of the only parts of the BMAT that is not covered by most school curricula. It requires an understanding of important technical terms, such as “premise”, “conclusion” and “assumption”. These may seem pretty self-explanatory, but in the BMAT these each have a precise definition that is crucial if you want to get the right answer. It is often the details that catch students out in section 1. For example, do you know how to identify which is the main conclusion in a paragraph of text?
Timing is crucial in section 1 and students often find it to be the most time pressured section. A sure way to reduce this pressure is to always read the question before you read the text, despite how tempting it may be to read the passage first. This ensures that you know what to pay attention to when reading the passage, so that you do not have to re-read as much. It may also seem logical to read the answer options before you read the passage, like in UCAT verbal reasoning, but be careful when doing this in the BMAT as it can alter your initial judgement of the passage. For example, you may find yourself hunting for information that supports the answer option you have read, which can bias your judgement of the evidence in the text.
Another way to beat the clock in section 1 is to utilise shortcuts and maths tricks that save time. These help you quickly carry out calculations and ensure that your time spent doing maths is not a bottleneck during the exam. For example, when working with percentages of numbers, the percentage and number can be flipped for ease of calculation (e.g. 14% of 50 is equal to 50% of 14). Some of these tips may be simple and obvious, but it is worth having some ready because they may be forgotten in the heat of the exam.
There are many platforms that offer practice materials for the BMAT. Some of these are paid, but there are many free resources too. An example of free resources are various A-Level critical thinking past papers that are brilliant for getting you in that critical thinking mindset. These can be found via Google and official websites. Newspapers and magazines are also good sources of text that you can use to practise drawing the conclusions out of.
Students sitting the BMAT love to discuss how much preparation they’re doing for the exam and how long it’s taking them, but getting caught up in this is not very productive and is probably just going to stress you out. Remember that it is more important to do good quality prep than spending hundreds of hours preparing. Of course, this is an important exam so putting the effort in is required, but be mindful of how you are feeling in the weeks leading up to the exam and respond accordingly to avoid burnout.
One of the (admittedly few) joys of the BMAT is the fact that it is in MCQ format. This comes with many advantages. Most importantly, it enables the process of elimination to be done, which is especially useful when you are running out of time.
Prior to the exam, it is worth visualising your plan for section 1. Which types of questions will you focus on? Are there any sorts of questions you will immediately skip to save time? If you are running low on time, what’s your strategy? Having these questions answered prior to the exam will not only keep you calmer in the exam, but will also ensure that you work with maximum efficiency.
On the day of the exam, remember that section 1 is the first section of the day and is therefore likely to be where you are most jittery (until you settle into the exam). Try to not let this affect your timings or accuracy, but instead focus on remembering the top tips for this section. Everyone in the exam is in the same boat!