Section 1 of the BMAT is similar to the UKCAT Verbal Reasoning section, so those of you that did the UKCAT will already be a little familiar with it.
About one third of this section is problem solving and verbal reasoning, with the remaining two thirds being spatial reasoning and data analysis. Here are some tips to help you score highly in this section…
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The verbal reasoning questions will often ask you find a conclusion, assumption, flaw, or ask you to assess whether a certain premise strengthens or weakens the argument. In order to be able to attempt these questions you need to know the definitions of the words mentioned above and how they formulate an argument.
It’s very important that you are able to understand and identify all these individual elements so you can then work on critiquing the argument correctly and quickly!
2. Read the question, the passage, then the answer options
This is the best approach for all the critical thinking questions. The questions will appear in 1 of 2 forms: either a short passage followed by one question, or a long passage followed by 3-4 questions.
For both question types, you must first read the question so keep what you need to look for in your mind as you read the passage.
Whether it’s a conclusion, a flaw or an assumption, when reading the passage you’ll have this as a focus that you’ll be actively looking for.
Finally, read the answer options and pick the one that best correlates with what you came up with. It’s important that you do not read the answer options first as that may skew your view as you read the argument.
For these questions, it’s very important not to be phased if you see a whole page of complex data. They are there to test your ability to extract and summarise various different types of data, and quite often you won’t really be needing every item of data that you’re given.
Don’t waste time aimlessly reading through all the data –the question might just be wanting you to read off a particular number or data item. Remember, even though it’s not as time pressured as the UKCAT, the clock is still ticking!
Read the question then look at the answer options first before going to the data (the opposite way round to critical thinking questions) – that way you’ll have an idea which part of the data you need to look at.
4. Finding shortcuts will take you through problem solving
For the problem-solving questions, being quick at mental maths, time tables, squaring numbers, cubing them and other basic maths principles will take you a long way. If you’re a bit shaky on any of these, make sure you sort them out before the BMAT. It’s worth keeping any nifty maths tricks at the front of your mind when going through this section.
Make sure you are very comfortable with converting between fractions, decimals and percentages as questions involving these do pop up often!
There’s only a certain number of things you can be asked about an argument and only a limited number of things you can be asked to identify in the passage.
Therefore, the best way to improve on these questions is by practising as many questions as you can. You’ve got so many past papers you can work through, so you’ll never be short of questions. Have a read of all the strategies for this section I identified from practising past paper questions!
Words: Masumah Jannah
Masumah is a 1st year medical student at the University of Manchester. She writes a blog documenting her experience through medical school and also giving tips to aspiring medics: lifeofamedic.com
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