Didn’t take one or more of those subjects at A-Level? Completed a degree in an unrelated subject? No problems at all as the content the BMAT tests is GCSE level and you would have covered it before. If you’re feeling a little rusty, you can refresh the topics using any GCSE level revision guide for the specific subject. These can be found at most bookstores or your school’s subject department. I found video tutorials with diagrams a great way of understanding the human biology and physics components of Section 2.
If you want to be well-prepared it will be worth going over some of the topics that are covered at the beginning of A-Level. I’d recommend using a GCSE revision guide and also some brief A-level notes.
The BMAT official site holds a specification document which lists all the science and maths topics that you are expected to know and that may be tested. Not everything from the list will come up, but everything that will come up is from that list, making it an invaluable resource! You can use it as a checklist to make sure you’ve covered all topics, and especially to identify topics you need more work on.
The official BMAT website has a huge bank of past papers to practice with. Doing these is probably the best kind of revision you can get as it gives you a true taste of the real deal. I would recommend doing as many as you can under timed conditions, as time pressure is the most challenging part of the BMAT.
Like I mentioned earlier, you’ll be familiar with the subject content, but it’s the application that might throw you off. Try and get hold of some worked examples for the past paper questions and meticulously work through them, specifically looking at the way you can work through the question in a logical manner.
The BMAT site also has a Section 2 virtual guide and a webinar that you can use for further information on content.
The BMAT is a non-calculator exam, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the questions you’ll be given will be “easy”. You will still have complex calculations to work through, so it’s up to you to find shortcuts and use your own time-saving tricks.
Practise estimating to work out sums faster; you may find looking at the answer options beforehand helpful as it’ll give you an indication of how much you can afford to round.
Make sure you’re confident in manipulating fractions as working with fractions will often be the easiest and quickest when working with numbers that aren’t whole. You also need to be able to convert between fractions, decimals and percentages fairly quickly.
This may sound like a cliché thing people say during exams but I cannot stress how important this is in Section 2 of the BMAT. It’s very tempting to pick the first correct-looking answer you see and move on, but multiple choice in science can catch you out with words like most/least, so make sure you’ve clearly read the question and all options given.
Questions in the BMAT section 2 are randomly organised and not in subject order. This may feel weird at first, but with some practice you’ll find answering a biology question after a maths one, followed by a chemistry question very normal.
Anyone who has done the UCAT and is able to use it as a comparison will know that the BMAT generally isn’t time-pressured, however, out of all the sections, this is the one that you’ll need to be keeping your eye on the time for the most. You have 27 multiple choice questions which must be answered in 30 mins, giving you just under a minute for each question.
With Section 2, it’s easy to get a bit carried away because it’s likely that you’ll recognise the context of the question, but you must override the urge to keep working on a question after your minute is up. Each question is weighted the same, so stressing over one will give you much less time to answer the others and may lead to silly mistakes. The same applies for Section 1, although you have more time per question there.
I want to leave you with one last piece of advice: answer every question in Section 1 and 2. There is no negative marking, so even if you don’t know the answer, just take a good guess. Guessing may still get you a mark – but leaving the question blank will not.
Words: Aditi Nijhawan & Masumah Jannah
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