The BMAT essay is a 30-minute writing task that concludes the test. You will be given three prompts to select from and will be tasked with writing an A4-length argumentative essay. The prompts typically follow a similar pattern, where you are first offered a quote or statement then asked to qualify it and provide arguments both for and against it. Topics vary, though an examination of past year papers reveals the trend that you will get a prompt each on a science and medical related issue, while the final prompt will be broader and may cover political, social, or ethical issues.
Before the test:
1. Read regularly and take notes
The strength of your arguments – and hence your content score – will benefit greatly from the use of relevant and specific examples. To this end, regularly keep up with current affairs and sprinkle your reading with articles and opinion pieces on ethics, science, and medical topics. You should keep notes of your readings and review them periodically so that you will be well-equipped with a slew of various examples on test day.
2. Practice brainstorming
Familiarize yourself with essay topics from previous years to get a better understanding of the style and objective of the writing task. Attempting every single question from each past year paper may be tiring and could even burn you out. Instead, select one question from each test to write up a complete essay for; for the remaining questions, you can still get practice in by brainstorming examples and essay structures – this will still benefit you as you can practice planning your essay and coming up with arguments quickly.
During the test:
3. Pick the question you can answer best
Students tend to select the question that resonates the most personally. This is not always the best strategy. Instead, you should tackle the question for which you can produce the best examples and arguments. As the strength of these elements dictates your content score, it is crucial that you select the question rationally, instead of relying on your personal opinions.
4. Plan your essay
Spend the first 5 minutes of the section sketching a rough outline of your essay. Break down your plan in such a way that mimics the structure of your essay and include the Spark Notes version of the arguments and examples you will include. Planning will prevent you from getting stuck halfway through your writing and will also give you a checklist of sorts to ensure your final piece includes everything you originally intended.
5. Be clear and concise
Since your essay will be limited to the A4 writing sheet given to you, focus on making your points clear and succinct. You need not pepper your writing with any superfluous vocabulary or long-winded sentences, as (contrary to what many believe) this will not improve your language grade. In addition, do not repeat your ideas; a single well-articulated argument will suffice.
6. Address all the prompts
Your essay’s quality of content will be graded on a scale of 1 to 5. To ensure your score does not dip below a 3, ensure your essay addresses all three prompts presented in the question. Beyond just a throwaway sentence, your essay should be divided fairly equally between the three prompts so that you can explore each in sufficient detail.
7. Proofread to avoid unnecessary errors
Leave the last few minutes of the writing task to quickly read through your essay and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. While examiners typically turn a blind eye to one or two superficial mistakes, consistently fumbling over your spelling or grammar may cause a dip in your language grade. When you proofread, avoid adding content to your essay, as the likelihood of you being able to fully flesh out a new argument in such a short amount of time is slim – instead of contributing to your essay, your argument may instead be weakened.