1. Schedule your revision around your weakest areas
First of all, give a practice paper a go. Don’t worry about using up the scanty resources available to you in terms of having only a few BMAT sanctioned papers available, and instead try one – this then gives you an exact idea of where your weaknesses are and how much time you should allocate to them for revision. There are plenty of practice questions out there on the web and in books all of a similar style – the only difference really is the layout in an exam paper style! Don’t be afraid if your first paper doesn’t go as planned, because it’ll give you a really good idea of where your weaknesses are.
With regards to the written section, focus on getting the essay done to time and making some sort of logical conclusion, then try and get it marked by a tutor or teacher if you can. Try and practice an essay every few days and on a variety of topics, not just the titles you think you’d pick. If you get a difficult paper with titles you don’t like, you’re going to have to be used to writing about things you haven’t necessarily given any thought to before the exam.
Don’t do all the hard stuff or all the easy stuff at the same time. The BMAT revision can be a demoralising task master, so make sure you spread out revising the things you sort of know against the things you don’t know- that way you always know you can do something and you don’t end up feeling like the exam is impossible. If you really struggle with remembering formulas for physics but know your biology skills are top-notch, try and do a bit of both.
Also try not to omit things you know you’re strong on. As tempting as it is to solely focus on your weaknesses, remember your strengths also need some time just to get used to the question styles. There’s no point doing all this work to strengthen your biology if you then don’t do so well on the physics you think you’re stellar at.
Focus on knowing the basics. Don’t bog yourself down trying to know the ins and outs of everything because the questions will never require you to have a random bit of specific knowledge beyond what you should have learnt at GCSE. Sure, extra knowledge is helpful but it’s not everything, and knowing where to focus when there are all sorts of things they could ask is important. Focus on revising your GCSE maths, physics, biology and chemistry.
The BMAT website itself has a list of assumed topics- so focus on feeling confident with those rather than trying to understand topics outside of the scope that may come up randomly. The BMAT isn’t to test who is the most widely read, after all.
Section 1 in particular can be difficult to do in time, especially if you want a while to consider your answers – so make sure you practice questions with the same amount of time the real exam would afford you. There’s no point getting all the answers to the practice questions correct if you’ve done it over a week.
In the same way, try and spread your practice questions out so that you always have a fresh supply of questions to come to rather than constantly practising the same ones. Work out how many potential questions you have at your disposal and ration them out depending on how long you have until the exam, aiming to finish a couple of days before the date so you can do last minute revision on any niggles.
Remember to rest. The BMAT isn’t the be all and end all of what you have to do when applying, so don’t let everything else fall by the wayside. You are more important than your BMAT grade – and if you go into the exam feeling well rested, well-fed and confident, you’re automatically a step ahead of the person who spent the last month endlessly cramming questions.
Words: Katie Hodgkinson
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