Success in Section 3 is all about timing and planning. Let’s break down how to time the essay section of the test.
Although the area you can write in is small, the time will quickly creep up on you. Check out the official answer sheet at the bottom of this post to get an idea of the space you have. Today we will cover a timed breakdown of how you should attack Section 3 of the BMAT.
BMAT Section 3 Overview
Section 3: The Essay
1 question | 30 minutes
Section 3 gives candidates 30 minutes to answer one question from a choice of three. These questions usually pertain to Medicine, Veterinary Science, a current or social affair, or a quote by a famous figure. Along with the main question, there are usually sub-questions that need to be answered. It’s important you answer all of these since if you don’t, the maximum mark you can possibly get is 2.0.
The essay is unusual in that it’s limited by space and you can only fill about 80% of an A4 sheet. Crucially, it’s straightforward to nab a minimum of a 3A. You can get a 3 simply by making sure you address every part of the question. Getting an A is also easy since most of you probably got As and A*s in GCSE English. Use proper grammar and don’t use words you can’t spell. As for getting a higher score than a 3, think of unique and novel perspectives and practice your timings.
Minute 0-3: Choose The Question
Minute 4-10/15: Plan It Out!
The next step is to plan the answer. Before you put pen to (answer) paper you should know exactly what you are going to write. Since space is so limited, you can’t afford to make mistakes and waste space. You will only be given one answer paper so it has to count! There are two parts to the plan it out stage.
- Refer to the points you have already written down regarding the question.
- Add detail to these.
- Add pros and cons.
- Write the ethical or political issues surrounding the argument for a point you have written.
Just think about as much as you possibly can that relates to the question. You may not use every single one of these points, but having it to refer to when you actually write the answer is invaluable.
2). Organise The Splurge
Once you have a ton of points to choose from, you should choose the strongest arguments which add value to the answer. If you are stuck with which point to choose, think which one offers the most value to the question asked. If you have a lot of knowledge about a point, can you summarise the deep issues of the point in a small space? Remember, you only have around 4 paragraphs to write.
We have a clip from our BMAT Online Course in which David goes through how to plan the essay. Get expert support just like this through our Medicine Programme which gives you complete access to the BMAT Online Course.
Minute 10/15-28: Writing The Beast
By this point, you should know exactly what you are going to be writing and the order you will be making your points. The only thing left to do is flesh out the points you have written into digestible chunks that create a strong, coherent argument rather than a jumble of broadly related points.
Make sure to interlink each point so there are no loose links within the answer or your conclusion. You need to write as small & legibly as possible for two reasons:
- Legibility: the marker needs to be able to read your answer easily.
- Small: this maximises the amount of space you have available to write! It may give you the option of squeezing in another point or two which could tip the scales to a higher mark.
If you have naturally untidy handwriting, then you should allocate some more time to the writing phase so you can focus on neatening it up. We’d also recommend printing off an actual BMAT answer sheet (you can use the one below) and doing a timed answer using the sheet. This will let you know exactly how long you will personally need to write a full answer legibly in that box.
Minute 28-30: The Final Countdown
If you have time, then it can be useful to read through your essay and make any final amendments. We often find, due to the time pressure of the BMAT, that candidates can accidentally skip integral words or punctuation which can completely alter a sentence e.g. euthanasia is accepted in every country vs euthanasia is not accepted in every country, so look out for these.
Since space is so limited, crossing out, numbering and asterisking quickly hashed out statements can end up looking very messy. It can limit your answer in terms of space so we’d suggest avoiding it unless it voids your answer without being down.
Minute 30: All That Can Be Done, Has Been Done
Time’s up. At this point, you can do no more. Provided you’ve done the preparation correctly and not forgotten to eat for the past few days, you should be golden. Sit back, relax and wait on your results.
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