BMAT Section 1 Problem Solving: The Complete Guide

Advice & Insight From BMAT Specialists

The problem-solving questions test your ability to perform simple mental arithmetic and proficiency in numerical reasoning.

Compared to Critical Thinking questions the Problem-Solving Questions are less formulaic and predictable. A strategic approach is needed to tackle the 16 problem solving questions, but more importantly practising numerous questions will expose you to the reoccurring mathematical topics used. There are only 3 main question types within the problem-solving section of the BMAT: Relevant information, finding procedures and identifying similarities.

The 3 Problem Solving Question Types:

  • Relevant information questions test your ability to draw conclusions from large amounts of information. This requires a systematic and rigorous approach to interpret a large set of data demonstrating your ability to identify and manipulate the only the relevant pieces of information. Much of the irrelevant data is created to provide red herrings within the questions and may be distracting.
  • Finding Procedures questions require a flexible methodology and approach. In contrast to the relevant section questions, you will be provided with less information. From the provided information you must generate a mathematical operation and generate an answer. These questions are intended to make you think beyond what may seem an obvious solution. These questions are numerically focused where you are required to manipulate usually three of four numbers.
  • Your capacity to identify similarity is assessed through data interpretation questions. The question will contain 2 data sources typically graphs, charts and tables, the sources will differ in presentation. From the sources you must make compatible inferences. Questions will require you to read and interpret both sets of data, you must select the answer based upon interpretation of the relationship between the two data sets and similarity observation. There may also be functional skills questions testing your spatial reasoning skills. These questions are based on resources containing shapes. Make sure you are confident with simple transformation questions based upon 2 and 3 dimensional shapes. You may need to describe or interpret transformations such as reflections, rotations, translation and enlargement.
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Mathematical skills assessed in problem solving questions?

Several branches of maths are assessed within the BMAT where you must be confident with several mathematical topics and able to perform simple mathematic arithmetic. As well as working accurately the BMAT is time controlled meaning your approaches must be efficient and timely.

Number concepts calculations require you to understand the properties that exist between numbers. This may include counting and comparing. Ensure competence interpreting simple fractions and percentages doing percentage operations and conversions.

Operational mathematics requires addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Squaring square rooting and logarithms. There are several mathematical shortcuts which will help you to save time and easily manipulate numbers. Avoid having to use excessive written methodologies such as long multiplication and division. Remind yourself of divisibility rules and multiplication tricks to provide a shorthand methodology. Ensure you can square, cube, square root and cube root by hand without using a calculator. Many of the answer options may seem very similar and differ only by one place value, ensure you check and correctly calculate unit conversions. If you have time remaining at the end of the exam it may be worth sense checking your answers rounding to ensure you are not a power of ten out.

Spatial Reasoning questions are incorporated into this section. These questions will test your ability to reflection, rotate and recognise patterns. In order to prepare for these questions, ensure you are confident with lines of symmetry, the 3 requirements for rotation and cube nets. Check that you are confident with how to calculate proportions.

Problem solving strategy and approach

  • Initially ignore the data provided and read the question through so you know what you are looking for within the source.
  • Read the answers – this will inform you of how precise your calculations need to be and give you a rough ball part for your answer. You may find that you can work backwards from the answers. From the answer options you may need be able to cut down your workload.
  • Read the text and attempt the question.
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Various Spatial Reasoning Question Types

Question Type


Top tips

Date and Time

Scenarios will involve different categories or groups of people and information related to date and time

Memorise details such as days in year, days in each month, time conversions between second, minutes, hours and days

Ordered Questions – like UCAT decision making

Criteria such as weight, height etc. need to be ordered in comparison to a description of how individual peoples values compare to one another.

Draw a table or Venn diagram. Work by process of elimination.

Monetary questions

Calculate values of money using large extracts of information

Ensure you are confident with percentage value calculations

Tabular questions

Selecting relevant information out of a table

Carefully read the question so you are confident with what you are identifying. Note table headings and units.

Pin Code Questions

Calculate values of a pin code using descriptive clues.

Be willing to try trial and error.

If possible, create a algebraic equation.

Speed, Distance Time

Using formulae to calculate rate, speed, distance, time, acceleration

Be aware of unit conversions.

You may need to double distances where travelling questions refer to travel to and from a location.

Check you can interpret values and how they are represented on graphs.

Spatial Reasoning

Reflection, rotation and rearrangement

Practice transformations, familiarise yourself with 3D shapes and cones.

BMAT Section 1 Problem Solving: The Complete Guide

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