• The Aspiring Medics

BMAT Section 2 Tips


The BMAT section 2 is the section with the shortest time per question. This not only means that you not only need to be super sharp with your answers, but also that any blunders with your time will be more costly. For example, double-checking your answer after each question is a common timing mistake that will prove particularly troublesome in section 2. Make sure to learn how long you can spend per question (it is usually quoted as 1 minute per question) and be strict with yourself about moving on when a question is taking you much longer than this. It will pay off across the exam!

Section 2 of the BMAT is unique in that it requires the most prior knowledge of scientific content. This knowledge is often simplified to “GCSE-level knowledge of maths and science”. However, in reality, there is an official content specification that can be accessed on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website. The spec outlines a list of topics that you may be tested on in section 2. Familiarising yourself with the specification is useful because it allows you to see any content that you may have not covered during GCSEs, either because you did not sit them or because your exam board did not cover them. Similarly, it lets you see if there are any GCSE topics that do not need to be revised as much since they are not listed on the syllabus. You could download the specification or print it off, and then highlight any sections that you need to focus your revision on.

It is possible that you are not studying all of maths, physics, chemistry and biology to A Level (or equivalent). This might mean that you feel less “fresh” and ready for these subjects. As a result, it is worth focusing revision on these topics, but do not stress! The specification allows you to create a shortlist of the topics you will need to refresh yourself on, so it is not like you have to re-learn a whole A Level necessarily. Physics is the subject that many medical applicants do not study to A Level, but luckily the physics questions do not usually form a disproportionate fraction of the questions.

The MCQ format of the exam means that often a question can be answered just by eliminating the other answers. Especially when time is low, there may be one or two answers you can instantly eliminate. For example, one of the answers could be many orders of magnitude away from the true answer or one of the answers could be using the wrong units. Quickly eliminating the incorrect answers makes for more efficient and strategic guessing at the end of the exam. Never guess completely blindly if you can avoid it

With so many online resources for the BMAT, it can be easy to do all your practice on a computer. It is also tempting to use a calculator and look at your computer clock for timings. But to be truly ready for the exam, it is worth replicating the exam conditions more closely. Print out some practise papers so that you can get used to flicking between pages quickly and noting down the numbers of the questions you have skipped. Avoid using a calculator so that you can exercise your mental maths. Get used to looking at a watch so that you can track the time you have used more precisely than with a computer clock. These will not only make you more efficient, but will make you feel less strange when sitting down in the exam hall to sit the BMAT. This is particularly important in section 2 because it is so time pressured, so it is important to factor in for issues like flicking through pages.

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 for section 2 are GCSE past papers that can be found on exam board websites. Try taking a look at the exam boards that you did not sit at GCSE to cover a wider range of topics.

BMAT section 2 questions are not hard relative to A Level questions. However, they can be much more time pressured. This means that the BMAT is all about how you answer the question, not whether you get the right answer. There may be ways of thinking about questions that you would not normally consider. If you can, work through some questions with a friend and talk through your approach to the question. For example, how would you calculate the probability of 3 specific numbers being rolled on a die in any order? You may learn some new ways of thinking that will speed up how you approach questions.

On the day of the exam, section 2 will probably be shortly after section 1. In the short time between sections, rather than dwelling on section 1, focus on preparing for section 2. In the event that section 1 has gone badly, it is important to remember that there are still two sections to go and that students are graded against each other, so you may have done much better than expected. Either way, it is important to clear your mind to maximise performance in section 2.