The final part of the BMAT exam — BMAT Section 3 — is the writing task. This section is testing your ability to ‘select, develop and organise ideas, and to communicate them in writing concisely and effectively’.
In other words, writing a short essay!
In essence it is testing your ability to formulate your own argument. You could say it is the reverse of Section 1. You are assessed both for content, and the correct use of English. So good grammar, spelling and punctuation are essential.
In BMAT Section 3, you are required to write a short essay. This will cover one side of A4. But it can’t be any longer. So timing and technique are crucial.
You will be given a choice of three essays. You only have to answer one of these. And you have 30 minutes in which to do so.
Each essay option is based on a short quote or statement. These can be scientific or medically-related, but often aren’t. They are not technical. Examples might include a quote from Voltaire or Charles Darwin. The tasks the candidates can select from will be:
– Explanation of the proposition: candidates are asked to explain the proposition or part of it or its implications.
– Generation of a counter-argument: candidates are asked to look at the other side of the argument by proposing or commenting on a counter-argument or counter-proposition.
– Reconciliation of the two sides: candidates are asked to offer some sort of resolution or reconciliation for the two opposition positions (or elements of those positions) explored in the answer.
Many students will no longer be taking essay-based subjects. This can lead to a degree of trepidation. However, we have designed a clear and repeatable strategy for success in this section. Read more about that in our BMAT Section 3 Blog.
You can download and print sample answer sheets from the BMAT website to practice writing essays of the correct length in time.
BMAT Preparation: How can I prepare for Section 3?
Watch Daniel’s top tips for BMAT Section 3 here!
Plan essay questions
One of the best ways to start your preparation for BMAT Section 3 is to look at essay questions from past papers. The questions take the form of a short quote or statement – most are scientific or medical.
An example question is: “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” (Alexander Pope). Explain what this statement means. Argue to the contrary to show that a little learning is not dangerous. To what extent do you think learning can be a dangerous thing?
A good way to practice this is to get used to looking at these statements and explaining them, in one or two sentences, in your own words, explaining the key terms. Next, start planning your answer in bullet points. BMAT Section 3 questions usually ask you to argue against the statement, so start by planning an ‘against’ list with examples, then list some possible positives. The last part of the question will ask to what extent you agree with the statement – here, you could draw in arguments from both the ‘for’ and ‘against’ list, finally reaching a conclusion.
It’s a good idea to practice this method a few times to familiarise yourself with the process of explaining, arguing, and then reaching a conclusion on a statement. This planning is a key element of BMAT Section 3 preparation, and can be practiced quickly in the exam room to give your essay answer a much more coherent structure. The more you practice forming an argument, the easier (and less daunting!) you will find the process.
Ask others to review your essays
BMAT Section 3 is one of the most difficult sections to mark yourself. One of the best ways of getting an idea of your score is to ask a teacher to review it with their suggestions for improvements. Another idea is to send your essays to us – they are then marked by an expert Medicine Tutor and sent back to you.
The only BMAT provider officially partnered with the Royal Society of Medicine. Created by qualified doctors and Oxbridge graduates, our BMAT Course is trusted by many top schools and aspiring medics each year.