The BMAT Section 2 syllabus covers Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, with the ability to apply your scientific knowledge to various examples. To revise, I used CGP guides to understand the GCSE syllabus for each subject and then used a BMAT course to work on my strategies. This gave me an understanding of how I could approach Section 2 questions. I also made summary notes of the topics I found difficult, so I could refer to them when revising, and over time the topics became etched in my memory.
Since Section 2 covers a wide range of topics, it was important to routinely practice hundreds of questions, not only to become more confident in the way examiners ask questions, but also to effectively manage my time.
A key strategy I used was to prioritise BMAT questions. As there are only 27 questions in 30 minutes, you have roughly one minute per question. However, I always wanted to leave some time at the end to review my answers, and so I aimed to spend less than one minute per question where possible. Also, if I felt the question may take a long time, I would guess and skip the question and then review it at the end if I had time. This strategy helped me to save a lot of time and maximised the number of questions I answered correctly.
Another strategy I used was to work on my weaknesses. Whilst this may sound like common sense, it is all too easy to practise questions that you are already confident about to get a false sense of confidence. As I did not take Physics for A Level, I made sure to practise more Physics questions and cover topics which I found particularly difficult such as Conduction, Convection and Radiation.
I took the BMAT last November and started preparation a month earlier in October. Initially, I was just familiarising myself with the course structure, i.e. the various topics within the CGP guide. Before the test we had a two-week half term, which was the perfect time for me to use the knowledge I had learnt and apply it to past paper questions. I started doing more papers using the online BMAT course and kept track of mistakes I kept making in Section 2 – and more often these were in the Physics/Mathematics questions. Over time, I felt more confident as I was able to improve upon my mistakes and achieve a consistent score of roughly 6.0 in Section 2, so I was ready to do the test.
As the BMAT covers GCSE content, they can make the exam more difficult by adding a few keywords which completely change the question and could be missed by someone who is rushing through.
For example, if the question asks the pattern of inheritance and you identify that it is dominant, you are more likely to skim-read, choose the option that says dominant and move on to save time. However, in this scenario the examiners could include X linked dominant and autosomal dominant, to try and catch you out. Spending just a bit more time to identify the correct option can help you gain a mark which otherwise would have been easily lost.
Initially, I should have looked at the Section 2 syllabus and prioritised topics that I was less confident about, rather than reviewing the entire CGP course. Also, the BMAT covers the GCSE course across all exam boards, whereas my guide only covered one exam board. I realised my mistake while looking at past papers because there were topics that I had not revised before, and so I had to spend more time reviewing topics that were not in my exam board but were part of the syllabus.
Moreover, when undertaking the actual BMAT exam, I was skipping more questions than usual to review later. As a result, this made me feel less confident when answering questions and perhaps affected my overall score. In hindsight, it is normal to feel anxious on the test date, and so it is normal to skip more questions than usual. Your answers will typically be right, but you just feel more nervous on the date so you do not want to take any risks. I would have told myself that skipping questions is perfectly fine and that I should be confident in the practice I had done!
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