Not sure how to go about preparing for the BMAT? Here are some top tips to help you score well.
Familiarise yourself with the ins and outs of the three sections:
This section tests you on the generic skills required for undergraduate study: problem solving and critical thinking. The problem solving skillset entails using simple numerical operations, selecting relevant information, identifying similarities, and finding procedures.
The following is a “finding procedures” example question from the problem solving section; as you can see, you will typically be given three or four numbers in the question stem and must find a method (procedure) to determine the solution:
Three thermometers are each accurate to within 2 degrees above or below the temperature they actually read. One reads 7°, one reads 9° and one reads 10°. What is the minimum range in which the true temperature lies?
A. 5° – 12°
B. 7° – 9°
C. 8° – 10°
D. 8° – 9°
E. 7° – 10°
The answer is D. The method here is to search for the acceptable highest and lowest temperatures for the conditions to be met, realising that the middle value is irrelevant. As one reads 7°, the temperature cannot be above 9° and, as another reads 10°, the temperature cannot be below 8°. This is given by D.
In the critical thinking section, you will be presented with different logical arguments and tested on your ability to summarise and draw conclusions, identify assumptions, assess the impact of additional evidence, detect reasoning errors, and apply principles.
Here’s an example of an “identify the main conclusion” critical reasoning question. Since the conclusion can be found directly in the argument, you must paraphrase said conclusion without embellishing it with extra details:
Vegetarian food can be healthier than a traditional diet. Research has shown that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart disease and obesity than meat eaters. Concern has been expressed that vegetarians do not get enough protein in their diet but it has been demonstrated that, by selecting foods carefully, vegetarians are able to amply meet their needs in this respect.
Which of the following best expresses the main conclusion of the above argument?
A. A vegetarian diet can be better for health than a traditional diet.
B. Adequate protein is available from a vegetarian diet.
C. A traditional diet is very high in protein.
D. A balanced diet is more important for health than any particular food.
E. Vegetarians are unlikely to suffer from heart disease and obesity.
What does this argument seem to be trying to get us to accept? It seems to be trying to persuade us that vegetarian food can be healthier than a traditional diet, so the conclusion is the first line. Two supporting reasons, which we call ‘premises’, are also given:
- Vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart disease and obesity than meat eaters.
- A vegetarian diet can contain sufficient protein.
It does not matter whether the premises are true in reality or not – we simply take them as fact for the purposes of logical reasoning on the test. Now that we are sure that the first sentence is the conclusion and the sentences following are support, we see that answer A is the best direct paraphrase.
Ensure you read each question carefully to understand its exact requirements. You must rely solely on the information presented to you in the question and refrain from making any assumptions or conclusions that require multiple inferences.
This section focuses on chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics related topics; you should thus already be familiar with most of the syllabus. Ensure you read carefully through the BMAT test specifications so that you know what content will be covered and take the time to review any material that you are not confident in. Since questions may test you on more than one topic (and can even combine topics from the different sciences), you must also be comfortable with integrating different concepts.
Practicing mental math is important since the use of calculators is prohibited for all sections. In addition, learning fractions and their conversions to decimals will help you in estimating and thus save time. You should also be comfortable with using the various formulae required for the BMAT for efficient test taking.
Differing slightly from conventional essay tasks, section 3 will be give you 3 prompts, each containing a quote or statement. The prompts require you to explain what is meant by the quote (sometimes it’s rather abstract) and provide a balanced essay with arguments to both support and counter said statement. While usually related to medical or science topics, you may also be presented with philosophical quotes.
Since answers are strictly limited to one A4 page, the ability to organise your ideas concisely is imperative. On top of this, a degree of familiarity with the topic(s) presented is beneficial, as this will allow you to include relevant and specific real world examples to further your arguments. To this end, regularly reading medical journals and news articles related to science and medicine and exposing yourself to various ethical issues can boost your example bank and allow you to consider different perspectives. For further BMAT essay help, read here.
On the whole, familiarising yourself with the various question types and syllabus tested in the BMAT is necessary to score well on the test. Do take the time to review past papers and attempt the test under timed conditions to guide you in your revision and identify your strengths and weaknesses across the three sections.