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BMAT Section 1 Changes

Advice & Insight From BMAT Specialists

Admissions tests play a huge role in creating equal opportunities for all medical students applying to get into medical school. As a result, the BMAT is constantly reviewed and updated to ensure that the test is fair and transparent. The BMAT is frequently changed so that it tests skills which aligns with any variations inherent in the requirements of medical students.

BMAT Changes: Outdated Resources

In 2020 the BMAT was reviewed and updated. It is important to be aware of these changes especially when selecting which resources to use as part of your preparation. In order to avoid using and learning from outdated resources, you need an awareness of how the BMAT format and question types have changed. An obvious choice for BMAT resources would be the Cambridge Assessment Centre official resources. These past papers reflect exactly the format and content of the BMAT exam and will not be outdated. However, successful candidates tend to use a variety of resources, you may find a bank of specific questions that allow you to target your preparations. This is great! Make sure you are aware of when a resource was made. Resources made before 2020 are not invalid so don’t explicitly avoided. The structure and format of section 1 has only discretely changed but the basic skills being assessed are the same. Throughout your preparation for section 1 of the BMAT you may observe your performance improving; not only does this show that you are becoming more familiar with the question type but accustomed to applying the skills needed in each section. The skills needed to complete the old questions are transferable for the new question format.

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Section 1 Changes: Number of questions

The number of questions in Section 1 of the BMAT has been reduced from 35 questions to 32 questions. The total amount of time allowed for this section has remained constant at 60 minutes. Therefore, you have slightly longer to spend on each question. Note, section 1 is still time pressured, having an awareness about time pressure and the ability to work effectively in limited time is still being assessed. This change means that you can dedicate slightly longer to each individual question.

Section 1 Changes: Question and Answer format

The exam is still multiple choice where there are several options to select from. However, the question format has changed. Previously some questions would be formatted where students were required to answer 4 questions based upon a long passage. This meant that any misinterpretations or confusions with the text could affect your performance out of 4. The test “stem” for these questions was longer meaning more time was required to read and interpret the passage before answering multiple related questions. For some questions there may have been a variable number of options. The answer options have now been standardised across all questions. From 2020 each question will have 5 answer options, only one of these will be correct. The other four statements are designed to be misleading. The answers for problem-based questions may differ by multiples of 10. Make sure you double check your unit conversions and use rough estimation to check the value of your answer is as similar to what would be predicted. In other scenarios more precise calculations may be required where the answers are more similar. The answers for critical thinking section may differ by only one word. The word form may differ for example one statement my contain a superlative compared to the comparative form in another statement. Comparative words such as less than, taller, lower than compared one thing to the rest of the group whereas extreme superlatives such as least and tallest demonstrate greater comparison between entities.

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Section 1 changes: Question type

The question types used in the thinking skills section have changed. Certain question types have been removed; these have been replaced by new question types. The change was made with the intention to more deeply test the ability of students to extract data and process arguments. There is a reduction is questions requiring graph interpretation and interpretation of statistical information. – data interpretation questions are likely to arise at interview.

Pre-2020 question types

In the past there were additional question types in section 1 of the BMAT. Data analysis and inference questions have been removed from the section. These required students to make inferences based on a persuasive argument presented as part of a passage.

New question types

It is important that you are familiar with the new question types on the updated BMAT test. There are 7 question subtypes included as part of the critical thinking questions: matching arguments and applying principles questions have recently been introduced.

  • Matching argument questions present you with a passage about a topic unrelated to the topics referenced in the answer options. The passage stem and correct answer will use the same underlying argument. The argument must be identified from the passage and applied to the answers.
  • “Applying Principles questions “are themed upon ethical reasoning. Within the passage you must identify what the belief or ethical principle is that is being presented, the correct answer will be supported by the same principle or view.

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