BMAT Critical Thinking Tips

Advice & Insight From BMAT Specialists

Critical Thinking specific preparation tips.

The question styles, tricks and pitfalls within section 1 will repeat again and again each year. This underpins the importance of preparation. There are 7 types of question which may arise in this section. Familiarity with the demands of each question and language used, will help you to feel at ease in the exam.

Learning from your mistakes

Before you start practising critical thinking questions carefully read through the BMAT Section 1: question guide. These guides are available for each section of the BMAT and, like an a-level specification, outline everything you should know. The official past paper questions are excellent resources if utilised correctly. Avoid racing through questions without using them as an opportunity to expand your skills and abilities. Take note of where you may have gone wrong. You should work up to completing BMAT questions under timed conditions, however, it may be useful when reviewing questions to take more time reading the passage. This strategy allows you to identify whether the errors you made were due to misinterpretation of the question and passage. Alternatively, you may discover that you need to take more care interpreting the text and its conclusions as a whole or focussing in on the language of the utilised phrase.

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Reflective revision

Critical Thinking questions only constitute 50% of the questions found within the thinking skills section. Be aware of “comfort zone” learning, practising the questions that you find easiest or most rewarding may prevent you from developing the new skills needed to fulfil your potential in section 1. Try to be insightful and aware of how many questions of each section you have answered and your success rate. Not only do you need to consider how you spread your time between problem solving and critical thinking but as part of your critical thinking preparation which questions you prioritise.

Identifying parts of an arguments

Ensure you are confident that you can identify reasons, conclusions and assumptions within the text. Although a practice question may not necessarily require you to do this it can be useful to understand the constitute elements of the argument.

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Using a variety of Resources

Resources available for critical thinking practice extend beyond the BMAT official website. The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations awarding body previously offered an a-level in critical thinking. This qualification no longer exists however there are many past paper questions from this to be utilised.

Effective Critical thinking question approach strategies

As part of your preparation, you could develop a strategy which considers how to effectively check your answers. It is advisable to return through section 1 of the BMAT exam to review your answers. As time is limited you need to firstly check that you have an answer for every question. Leave the questions which you are confident you have answered correctly until last to be checked. Out of the questions you found more challenging first tackle the questions you have no answer for, it is likely that you have understood some texts in more detail than others, return to these first. You may have calculated that on average you have 112.5 seconds per question, however, this does not provide any time to return to or check your answers. Consider spending about a minute and a half on each question leaving you a remaining 12 minutes to check and dedicate to more tricky questions. When you feel like you have become a lot more familiar with the passage it can be tempting to dedicate extra time here, this won’t cause a huge problem as long as you are strict with yourself and keep an eye on the clock.

Other Critical Thinking Top tips

Avoid answer bias:

Questions within this section require you to analyse and apply hypothetical reasoning. Any conclusions within the text, especially within the applying principles section, should be assumed to be correct. This will mean that you can assess the “plausibility” of the conclusions in the resource by examining the evidence given rather than your prior knowledge. 

Stay calm and collected.

Long passages or pieces of text may seem overwhelming, and it is extremely time consuming to read every word from the source. Skim reading the information will help you comprehend what it is your reading. Even if a keyword or phrase catches your eye in the text still skim through the whole source. This will ensure that you do not interpret things wrongly when taken out of context. The accuracy of your answers relies on the fact that you have understood the main points in the text and can appreciate their relevance.

Identify key words from the question source.

Identify key words from the question and scan through the text to see if you can discriminate where abouts in the source the answer may lie. Many of the passages may use argument indicators which direct you to an important component of the text. Conclusions may be introduced by phrases such as “so”, “therefore” and “consequently”. It is a common misconception that conclusive statements will be found at the end of a passage; this may not be the case so you need to get an idea of the whole thing. The words “because”, “since” and “as” indicate that the reason may follow.

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