Top tips on how to prepare for BMAT Section 1

Profile of Author (James)

James Fraser

Senior Writer at Medic Mind

What is Section 1?

Section 1 of the BMAT is a 60-minute test of Thinking Skills, described officially as a test of the ‘generic skills often required for undergraduate study’. Since it constitutes half the duration of the entire aptitude test and focuses on more abstract intellectual capabilities over scientific understanding, it can seem like a pretty daunting first hurdle on the road to a strong BMAT score. On the other hand, with only 32 questions and an hour in which to answer them, Section 1 arguably gives candidates a lot more room for manoeuvre if you don’t get your timings quite right.

What sorts of questions come up?

The section has been given something of a makeover for 2020, leaving fewer questions than before (down from 35) and none covering ‘Data Analysis and Inference’, which tended to involve interpreting graphs and statistical information. Plenty hasn’t changed, though: as in previous years, all questions take a multiple-choice format and calculators may not be used.

From 2020 onwards, questions will fall into two categories, with 16 questions in each of Problem Solving and Critical Thinking. They will be presented in rough order of difficulty, with questions from the two groups interspersed throughout.

What BMAT questions are common?
What BMAT questions are common?

Problem Solving

This looks at how you handle numerical information in three different ways:

  • Relevant Selection – filter through a large amount of information, some of which may be redundant or simply irrelevant, and draw conclusions from the details that matter
  • Finding Procedures – determine and apply appropriate mathematical operations to generate an answer, usually from a relatively small amount of information
  • Identifying Similarity – interpret complementary data sources, typically presented in different ways (e.g. tables or different chart types), and make compatible inferences
Section 1 BMAT Question
Section 1 Problem Solving BMAT Question

Critical Thinking 

This assesses your ability to recognise important features of logical arguments, namely:

  • Identifying the Main Conclusion – as opposed to statements that are not made in the passage or statements that are made but are not the main point of the argument
  • Drawing a Conclusion – something that isn’t stated explicitly in the passage but is consistent with the force of the argument
  • Identifying an Assumption – not stated but taken as a given to enable the conclusion to be drawn
  • Assessing the Impact of Additional Evidence – statements that would significantly strengthen or weaken the argument in the passage
  • Detecting Reasoning Errors – identifying flaws that prevent the conclusion from following coherently from the evidence and underlying assumptions
  • Matching Arguments – spotting identical logical processes between the passage and one of the answer options, even when they relate to different subjects
  • Applying Principles – working out the underlying principle or opinion in the passage and selecting an answer that is consistent with it
BMAT Section 1
BMAT Section 1 Critical Thinking

How do I prepare?

Of course, the best way to prepare for Section 1 is by looking through sample questions and past papers, ideally under timed conditions as exam day approaches. The recent specification change unfortunately means that no past papers are entirely representative of the new format – but if you ignore the Data Analysis and Inference questions, previous years’ papers still contain many suitable questions.

Take a look at our list of tips [link] for some excellent specifics on preparing for and sitting Section 1. One key message is that longer-term preparation will be especially valuable for Section 1, since the close textual analysis it involves is usually further from an aspiring medic’s comfort zone than the science of Section 2. If you have any persistent difficulties with any aspect of either Problem Solving or Critical Thinking, don’t hesitate to ask for help from one of our Medic Mind BMAT tutors.

How is it marked?

Each question carries one mark, with no marks deducted for an incorrect answer, and total raw marks are converted to scores between 1 (low) and 9 (high). The median score tends to be around 5.0 and normally corresponds to roughly half marks. 6.0 or more is an excellent score, achieved by around 10% of test-takers, and very few candidates score more than 7.0. Even so, you can get a few questions wrong and still achieve a perfect 9.0!

What are your top tips for BMAT Section 1?

Taking half the total duration of the BMAT, Section 1 can seem pretty intimidating, especially as it doesn’t sit in the more familiar territory of scientific aptitude like Section 2. That’s why we have prepared our top 10 tips for Section 1. Be sure to check out what is in Section 1 of the BMAT in our previous post, so you fully understand what is required. 

BMAT Section 1 Tips
BMAT Section 1 Tips

1 Learn the rules of critical thinking

It is important that you are able to understand and identify factors within arguments such as conclusions, supporting evidence, assumptions made, flaws, strengths and weaknesses. In order to do so, you must be able to understand the argument at hand. Luckily, ‘critical thinking’ of this sort is more than just a nebulous concept – it’s an academic discipline in its own right, and there are many introductory materials on the subject in libraries and online.

2 Structure your reading

Develop a consistent technique for tackling questions based on long passages of text. Read the question first; then decide whether you prefer reading the passage itself before or after the answer options. Both have their merits; we advocate reading the passage first because it gives you the opportunity to form an answer based on the passage alone without having prior knowledge of the answer options potentially cloud your judgement or even affect your memory of what was actually in the passage. Whatever you do, practise your technique and stick to it on exam day.

3 Don’t be thrown by large amounts of information

As of 2020, Section 1 has been updated so that you’ll no longer be faced with questions directly testing data analysis and inference. Even so, Section 1 will still be all about your ability to spot key details hidden among lots of extra information. So it’s worth reminding yourself that most of the information you’re given will be useless and is there as a distraction! Your task is simply to hone in on the stuff that matters.

4 Skim read 

Building on the psychological advice of the last tip, we specifically advise that you get into the habit of skim reading. You’ve probably heard of it and may do it to some extent already, but in exam situations we tend to stress and try to read every single word of every sentence, which takes time and is proven not to increase comprehension. Try to get a basic overview of what you read, looking particularly for keywords,  and then look in more depth at the section of text or data set that contains the answer.

5 Practise maths tricks to help you with problem solving

It may sound silly but brush up on your times tables and your ability to square and cube numbers in your head. As well as being able to convert between fractions and decimals. These simple things will save you valuable time in your exam. 

6 Use a process of elimination

As with any multiple choice exam, you’ve simply got to use a process of elimination, which both increases your chances of being correct and saves you time. It’s especially useful when the BMAT examiners ask you to identify combinations of correct or incorrect statements from a given selection.

7 Move straight on after you’ve answered a question

It’s tempting (and comforting) to re-read questions you think you’ve answered correctly before moving on. In fact, these are the very last questions you should think about looking at again since they’re the ones you’re most likely to have got right. You’ll spot this tip in our advice on Section 2 of the BMAT, but it’s particularly useful for the long and complex questions of Section 1, which, if you want to re-read, are best attempted with a fresh pair of eyes.

8 Develop and overall gameplan, and stick to it

Plan how you’re going to divide your time and practise sticking to it rigorously. Work out how many seconds you intend to spend on each question on average and set yourself strict benchmarks for the number of questions you need to have completed by certain points during the paper. This may or may not include time for checking, and that’s up to you.

9 Find a revision strategy that works for you

As a future medic, you probably prefer numbers and charts to blocks of text – so don’t expect your Section 1 revision to work in the same way as your Section 2 or A Level revision. Factor in extra breaks, plan a longer-term strategy to your preparation and be sympathetic to yourself in terms of the amount of time you’ll be prepared to spend on Section 1 each day!

10 Use the full range of practice materials

As with many exams, ultimately to get better you need to practice, practice again, and then practice some more! Make use of the official BMAT Section 1 specimen papers, as well as Medic Mind’s specially-prepared mock questions and full papers. Finally, when it comes to critical thinking, remember that these skills are supposed to be relevant to everyday life: try applying your newfound analytical capabilities to the argument made in newspapers and magazines, or even by your friends and family..!

Was this article helpful?

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars

Still got a question? Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Post as “Anonymous”


LeaSnundMedic Mind Tutor

25 September 2021

Hey herzchen.. Ich suche einen Mann!!
Ich will Sex! Schreib mir –

TiacekMedic Mind Tutor

26 September 2021

Hi baby!! Im looking a man..
If you want to meet me, I’m here –

HannabsMedic Mind Tutor

28 September 2021

Fullen Sie das Formular aus und erhalten Sie Ihr neues Samsung S21 kostenlos! –

JamalvtMedic Mind Tutor

30 September 2021

Almost 62% of guys are having problems with their sexual life. The root is the same for everyone – ED. We introduce you this amazing treatment that is going to assist everyone. Get back to the traditional sexual life using this pill. Enter Here –

Carolw7Medic Mind Tutor

3 October 2021

Try Your luck and win a Free $500 or $1000 voucher! –

Sofie30Medic Mind Tutor

4 October 2021

Hello baby! Im looking a lover!!
I love sex. Here are my erotic photos –

ZuriaxiMedic Mind Tutor

5 October 2021

hello baby. my name Brenda!!!
If you want to meet me, I’m here –

Kayla8fMedic Mind Tutor

7 October 2021

hallo baby! Im looking a lover…
I dream of hard sex. Write me on this site –

KarenhwMedic Mind Tutor

8 October 2021

Get a bonus from Coca-Cola! Try Your luck and win a Free package from Coca-Cola! –

Emilyi6Medic Mind Tutor

9 October 2021

Hi … Im looking a man…
Do you want to see a beautiful female body? Here are my erotic photos –

JuliavrMedic Mind Tutor

10 October 2021

Fullen Sie das Formular aus und erhalten Sie einen kostenlosen 500 Euro Rewe-Gutschein! –

Mia5xMedic Mind Tutor

14 October 2021

Hi . my name is Brenda!!!
If you want to meet me, I’m here –

MiasiMedic Mind Tutor

17 October 2021

WiFiBooster Pro provides you max speed with 300Mbps, no delay for playing game, online transfer files and video chat. Works with Any Router and Device (Smartphone, Computer, Smart tv, etc). Get 50% Off Today! Buy Here –

MarieleMedic Mind Tutor

18 October 2021

Hey herzchen!!! Mein Name ist Luisa…
Ich liebe Sex. Hier sind meine erotischen Fotos –

Mariai4Medic Mind Tutor

21 October 2021

Fullen Sie das Formular aus und erhalten Sie einen kostenlosen 1000 Euro Amazon-Gutschein! –

AmberilMedic Mind Tutor

23 October 2021

Hi . Im looking a man..
I dream of hard sex! Write me –

Gemmao5Medic Mind Tutor

28 October 2021

hallo baby!! Im looking a man…
Do you want to see a beautiful female body? Here are my erotic photos –

AlicemrMedic Mind Tutor

4 November 2021

Hey !!! Ich suche einen Liebhaber.
Mochten Sie einen schonen weiblichen Korper sehen? Hier sind meine erotischen Fotos –

GraceejMedic Mind Tutor

6 November 2021

hello dear! my name is Kayla..
I love sex. Here are my erotic photos –

GemmamoMedic Mind Tutor

16 November 2021

Hello dear.. my name Betty..
I love sex. Write me –

Karins5Medic Mind Tutor

29 November 2021

Hi . Im looking a lover.
I dream of hard sex! Write me –

AnitaexMedic Mind Tutor

7 December 2021

Hello . Im looking a lover.
If you want to meet me, I’m here –

FlorianjMedic Mind Tutor

23 December 2021

hey baby! my name is Emma…
I want sex! Write me –

Zuria0fMedic Mind Tutor

1 January 2022

Hey baby… my name is Christina..
I want sex! Here are my photos –

BerryjwMedic Mind Tutor

6 January 2022

You can win a lot of money! Don’t miss your chance! Play NOW Here –