BMAT Section 1 is renowned for being difficult to prepare for, but there are powerful shortcuts and time-savers you can use.
BMAT Section 1 Overview
Section 1: Thinking Skills
32 questions | 60 minutes
You have approximately 112.5 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 and waste time.
Here’s an example of a typical BMAT Section 1 Thinking Skills question taken from our Medicine Programme, where you can get access to thousands of practice questions, solutions and much more. The worked answer can be found at the bottom of this guide, attempt it and see how you do!
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, which we will now explain in-depth.
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.
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
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 that is inconsistent with 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 if the mother was not actually a doctor? This argument would break down 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. 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.
Section 1 of the BMAT is often deemed “impossible to revise for.” That’s completely incorrect, we’ll show you how.
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