The BMAT is a tricky exam that requires excellent academic knowledge and problem-solving skills. The test may also determine whether you get onto the university course of your choice.
With that in mind, it’s not difficult to understand why BMAT preparation is essential. Thankfully, we have a wealth of top tips on the different sections of the test to help you achieve the highest score possible, so let’s get started:
Where to start with your BMAT preparation
It’s much easier to prepare for the BMAT if you practice little and often. We recommend starting your preparation well in advance, ideally by July with the test due to be sat on the 18th of October. This will give you plenty of time to complete as many past papers as you wish to make you feel comfortable and confident about succeeding.
Here are a few steps you can take when beginning your BMAT preparation:
Start off by creating a preparation plan that includes a timetable of what you hope to achieve each week. Monitoring your progress is important for both the effectiveness of your preparation and your own morale throughout the process.
Gather your preparation resources ahead of time to ensure you have plenty of past/mock papers and practice questions.
Sections 1 and 3 are difficult to revise in a traditional sense, but Section 2 contains a lot of subject knowledge so you will need to make sure you brush up on it before taking on practice questions.
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Preparing for each BMAT section
The BMAT has three sections, each focusing on a different subject/skillset:
Keep in mind that if you’re aiming to attend Oxbridge, admissions tutors look for above 6 and a 5A in your scoring. An example overall BMAT score could look like this — 6.6, 6.3, 5A. Other universities may accept slightly lower scores, but these scores are still the ones to aim for.
Each of these three sections tests vastly different skills, so it’s important to prepare for each in a different way.
Section 1 – Thinking Skills
Section 1 tests your ability to solve problems and think critically with 32 multiple-choice questions that don’t require any subject knowledge. You have 60 minutes to complete them.
Section 1 has two different question types – Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. However, there are various sub-categories within these questions, so you need to be prepared to understand a variety of disciplines and skill sets within this section. Find out more about the question types in our BMAT Section 1 Guide.
As there is no subject-specific knowledge required here, you won’t be able to spend time revising in textbooks (although learning about question techniques will certainly help). Therefore, your primary method of preparation will be through practice papers and mock exams with past papers.
If you have given yourself enough preparation time, you should start off slow and get to grips with the styles of questions in the test. Remember to monitor your progress and gradually increase your preparation time as you become more confident. After a while, you shouldn’t have any issues with all but the hardest of questions in the test. Here are some other small tips to remember:
Calculators aren’t allowed in the BMAT, but all of the Problem-Solving questions can be easily answered with basic arithmetic, so be sure to sharpen your skills.
When a question includes longer passages or data sets (which is fairly common in the BMAT), read the question before investigating the additional information as it will help you determine what your are looking for.
Try to look at real-world scenarios or texts that you have read (such as in a newspaper) with the same though-process you would use in a BMAT question. Making this style of thinking seem natural will help ease the pressure in the actual exam.
Section 2 – Scientific questions
This section focuses on what you’ve learned in non-specialist science and mathematics by the age of 16 (GCSE level or equivalent). As you would expect, the four subjects covered at Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology. There are 27 multiple-choice questions and you have 30 minutes to finish them.
You need to demonstrate your understanding by applying your knowledge to scientific problems. To prepare for section 2, head back to school and revise your science and mathematics. The BMAT specification lists all the potential topics you may be tested on, so be sure to check for any topics you may not be familiar with or are less confident in. These should be your primary focus when preparing.
Although you need to revise these topics through reading and remembering, it is equally important to work through actual questions as well. This will cement both your subject knowledge and exam technique, ensuring you will be able to perform well in the BMAT.
Most of the tips and techniques you’ve learnt for Section 1 can be applied here, although the mathematics involved will be far more complicated and require in-depth working out. Our BMAT Section 2 Guide provides more details on what to expect from the questions in the paper.
Some people question whether you need to take certain A-Levels (or equivalent) to increase your chances of doing well in the BMAT. Specifically, some think that A-Level Physics should be taken if you are due to sit the test, as most applicants will already be required to sit Biology, Chemistry or both.
Although there may be some very minor benefits to doing this, you should generally not choose A-Levels based on any future admissions test. These tests are one-off events whereas these qualifications are with you for life.
If you choose something you have no interest in pursuing, it will not only take up a subject that could have been better for you but can also affect your performance as a whole as you may begin to burn out from the stress or lack of engagement felt in that subject.
Section 3 – Essay based paper
This section is fairly different in structure and skill requirements. It tests your ability to communicate effectively in an essay format, organise ideas coherently, and present them clearly and concisely while supporting your argument with evidence. There are three questions to choose from and you have 30 minutes to write your answer on one A4 page.
Preparing for the BMAT essay question is more challenging as answers are much more subjective and open-ended. The best approach is to consider both sides of the argument and analyse various opinions for and against different viewpoints. Some of the skills developed in Section 1, such as strengthening an argument, coming to conclusions, and finding flaws in opposing opinions will be useful.
You should practice to find out how long it takes you to write your answer to ensure you don’t run out of time in the real exam. 30 minutes is a very short amount of time to both plan and write a quality essay, so you should aim to build the quality of your work first and then start to reduce your time limit until you can answer the question within exam conditions.
By the later stages of your preparation, you should try to write an essay every day or 5-6 per week until the actual testing date to ensure your skills are sharp. If you need help with how to effectively use your 30 minutes, our Section 3 Guide provides an in-depth analysis of how you should tackle the time limit.
For this section, you’ll receive a number between 1.0 and 5.0, with 5 being the highest and a letter grade. The number is related to the quality of the argument written in your essay answer, and the letter refers to the quality of your language. This is marked by two examiners so you’ll receive two scores which are averaged into your final score.
Extra Tips for BMAT preparation
As we mentioned before, you’re going to need to round up a collection of resources to aid you in your preparation. But what should you be using and where can you find the best options?
Firstly, for Section 2 you’re going to need some revision materials for GCSE Level Science and Maths. Your textbooks should serve you well here, although you may also find it useful to seek out some more BMAT-specific guides, as these will have the most relevant information to the BMAT specification and will present things in the same context to the actual exam.
Study guides for Sections 1 and 3 are also helpful, but these will mainly focus on exam techniques and tips. You will find guides covering each section free online, but these will typically only cover surface-level knowledge. More in-depth materials can be found in the form of workbooks, online courses and even live intensive courses, which include guidance from expert BMAT tutors that will provide tested advice.
Beyond learning, you’re also going to need to gather plenty of practice materials. First of all, are the official BMAT Past Papers. These are the papers that were sat in previous years and contain hundreds of questions for your to try out. These papers are most effective when you sit them in exam conditions, as they let you truly get into the headspace you will be in when sitting the exam.
Before trying serious mock exams, you will to build up your skills with practice BMAT questions which are very easily found. There are a number of question banks available featuring thousands of questions. Some of these banks are free to start, although most will require payment for access to all features. When looking for a question bank, ensure that worked solutions are available, as seeing a break down of the solution is the most effective way to learn from practice questions.
Lastly, if you are looking for comprehensive support for whatever reason, you will be able to find a variety of courses and bundles of support. These can include everything mentioned above as well as other features like one-to-one tuition and Section 3 essay marking. UniAdmisssions’ BMAT Tuition Programme is one example of all-inclusive BMAT support available, but be sure t consider what you believe you need in terms of your resources and support.
We’ve mentioned before that mock exams are important for your revision, but the build-up to sitting them regularly can’t be immediate.
This mainly relates to the time limits imposed on applicants, as this is the most difficult aspect of the test for many. When you first start your revision, taking mock exams under exam conditions is still very beneficial as it helps you adapt to the exam format and restrictions. However, we would recommend ignoring the time limit for the first few weeks and focussing on finishing the paper.
As you progress, your completion time for a past paper will continue to decrease to the point that you can start taking timed mock exams. As you become more confident with the questions you will naturally become faster at answering them, making mock exams a little bit easier.
The important thing to remember about BMAT preparation is that learning to answer the questions comes before answering them within the time limit. Both elements are essential, but the learning process is much easier when taken one step at a time.
How to prepare in the lead up to your BMAT exam date
You’ve likely been preparing for your BMAT for a few months by this point, and the day of your exam has come around quickly. Now, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed about completing it or feel worried about the results, however, if you’ve done the prep, there’s no reason for you to be concerned.
To ensure you perform to your fullest potential:
Remember that you will need to bring your own black pen, a pencil and an eraser. You are not allowed to use a calculator, dictionary or correction fluid in the exam. Rough paper is also not allowed, but you can write on the question papers to mark key information, write notes, and draw diagrams if necessary.
If you want to carry on your research in BMAT preparation, check out our other free BMAT resources now, or discover how you can triple your chances of success with our BMAT Tuition Programme.
Our BMAT Tuition Programme provides all the support you’ll need to pass the test, including guidance from our expert tutors who are high achievers and know what is required for success in the BMAT. If you’re hoping to study Medicine at Oxbridge, our Oxbridge Medicine Programme includes one-to-one tuition for the test as well as interview prep, the BMAT intensive course, the BMAT online course, and past papers and fully-worked solutions.
Looking to boost your BMAT score and triple your chances of getting your offer?
The BMAT is a vital component of your Medicine application so scoring highly can mean the difference between receiving your dream offer or rejection.
Our BMAT Tuition Programme gives you complete support for every section of the BMAT through tuition, online resources, intensive courses and more. Find out how you can triple your chances of success today.