Section 1: Thinking Skills
32 questions | 60 minutes
This section of the BMAT is renowned for being difficult to prepare for, but there are powerful shortcuts and time-savers you can use.
You have approximately 110 seconds per question; this may sound like a lot but given that you’re often required to read and analyse passages or graphs – it can often not be enough. Nevertheless, this section is not as time-pressured as Section 2 so most students usually finish the majority of questions in time.
The people who fail to complete Section 1 are those who get bogged down on a particular question.
Here’s an example of a typical BMAT Section 1 Thinking Skills question. The worked answer can be found at the bottom here, attempt it and see how you do!
There are two types of questions in Section 1 of the BMAT, let’s find out what they are!
The First Type: Critical Thinking Questions – 16 questions
BMAT Critical Thinking questions require you to understand the constituents of a good argument and be able to pick them apart. The majority of BMAT Critical Thinking questions tend to fall into 3 major categories:
What is a conclusion?
A conclusion is a summary of the arguments being made and is usually explicitly stated or heavily implied. It’s common for students to mix a conclusion up with a premise.
What is a premise?
A premise is a statement from which another statement can be inferred or follows as a conclusion.
Hence a conclusion is shown/implied/proven by a premise. Similarly, a premise shows/indicates/establishes a conclusion. Consider for example: My mom, being a woman, is clever as all women are clever.
Premise 1: My mom is a woman + Premise 2: Women are clever = Conclusion: My mom is clever.
Identifying Assumptions + Flaws
Other questions require identification of assumptions and flaws. Here’s a definition of each:
– An assumption is a reasonable assertion that can be made on the basis of the available evidence.
– A flaw is an element of an argument which is inconsistent to the rest of the available evidence. It
undermines the crucial components of the overall argument being made.
Consider for example: My mom is clever because all doctors are clever.
Premise 1: Doctors are clever. Assumption: My mom is a doctor. Conclusion: My mom is clever.
What is the mother was not actually a doctor? This argument would breakdown because the assumption is incorrect or flawed.
Strengthening and Weakening arguments
You may be asked to identify an answer option that would most strengthen or weaken the argument being made in the passage. Normally, you’ll also be told to assume that each answer option is true. A good argument has three components;
Evidence | Logic | Balance
In order to strengthen or weaken an argument, look for points that tip the scales on any of these components.
The Second Type: Problem Solving Questions – 16 questions
These questions are arguably the hardest to prepare for but there are useful techniques you can employ to solve questions more quickly. Two favourites are;
This is essentially turning writing into numerical data. For example “Mark is twice as old as Jon” could be written as M=2J.
When a question asks about timetables, directions or sequences, you should draw a diagram. Look at the example below; the information is much easier to decipher when drawn out.
General Tips and Tricks for Critical Thinking
- It is imperative that you only use information presented to you in the passage and no prior knowledge.
- Don’t get confused between premises and assumptions. A premise is a statement that is explicitly stated in the passage. An assumption is an inference that is made from the passage.
- Though it might initially sound counter-intuitive, it is often best to read the question before reading the passage. Then you’ll have a much better idea of what you’re looking for and are therefore more likely to find it quicker.
The worked solution to the example question above – how did you do?
Section 1 of the BMAT is often deemed “impossible to revise for”.
That’s completely incorrect! We’ve found time and time again that students who work at Section 1 questions find their score in this section improving greatly. UniAdmissions Medicine Programme gives you valuable guidance and support for all sections of the BMAT.