BMAT Section 1: Question Types

Advice & Insight From BMAT Specialists

Section 1 of the BMAT tests your skills in verbal and numerical reasoning. Opposed to section 2 of the exam which tests your pre-learnt scientific knowledge, section 1 is looking to assess the skill sets of students. This means that all the information needed to answer the questions will be provided and there is no requirement to apply any prior subject knowledge. The BMAT test is used to identify which prospective medical students have the skills and knowledge required to take a logical and strategic approach to solving clinical problems. 

The thinking skills section of the BMAT admissions test has a total of 32 multiple choice questions. There is a total of 32 stem questions each with 5 answer options, one of which will be correct. Ensure you read all the options carefully as the distractor answers may differ only discreetly from the correct answer.  Section 1 of the test lasts for 60 minutes giving you on average 1 minute 53 seconds per question. Compared to other sections of the BMAT test and other admissions tests you have more time to work through each question. It may be useful to decide how many questions you hope to have attempted when half of the time for this section has passed. It is important to be flexible with timings as you may find some questions more taxing than others. There are 2 main question types: Problem solving and critical thinking.

Question types in Critical Reasoning vs Problem Solving

Although there are only 3 question types for problem solving questions, it is less difficult to prepare and formulate strategies for these questions as there is more question variability. However, there are common questions frequently asked such as spatial reasoning questions and repeated patterns. The critical thinking questions tested in section 1 of the BMAT are very formulated so you can know what to expect when you set foot in the exam hall. If you can perfect your strategy to the 7 critical thinking and 3 problem solving questions through sufficient practice, then you are more likely to score highly in section 1.

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Format of the BMAT Exam

Across Section 1 the questions will be presented in a mixed order rather than being categorised by question type. Throughout the section questions ascend in their level of difficulty – you may want to consider this when considering time management and which questions to spend longer reviewing.

Changes to Section 1

This section of the BMAT was modified in 2020 so that data analysis questions involving interpretation of graphs and statistics have been removed.

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Problem Solving vs Critical Reasoning

Problem solving

The problem-solving questions are based upon complicated sets of data where students are expected to use skills of numerical reasoning. Although this section is not testing your learnt knowledge the BMAT assumes that you have retained mathematical skills from GCSE. When preparing make sure you are confident with the maths procedures and skills, which you can find referenced as part of the section 1 admissions guidance document. There are three different question forms which will arise as part of problem-solving questions:

  • Relevant Section – Using the information; identify appropriate, applicable material.
  • Finding Procedures – Determine which mathematical operation that must be used to solve a question based on a smaller amount of information.
  • Identifying Similarities – Identify similarities and difference between two provided resources. Resource format and type will differ with questions utilising graphs, tables and charts.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking questions test your ability in verbal reasoning. This involves answering multiple choice questions based upon large pieces of written information in the form of long passages or paragraphs. These questions are like decision making and verbal reasoning questions in the UCAT, however you have more time per question. These questions require you to rapidly read, quickly interpret and analyse the passage. As part of your preparation, you should practice skim reading text and drawing relevant conclusions. Passages will contain a lot of irrelevant information so you need to learn a strategy where you can filter through the information rapidly. This may involve identifying relevant keywords or phrases used within the question-and-answer options. Each passage of text may contain a conclusion, supporting evidence and an assumption. A top tip is to make sure that you are confident with the definitions of words used to describe argument elements such as what a reason vs argument is. There are 7 types of question found within this section.

  • Identifying the main conclusion – identify the claim that the passage is persuading you to believe.
  • Drawing a conclusion – what conclusion (a claim supported by a reason) can be inferred from the text. The conclusion will not be explicitly elicited in the question.
  • Identifying the assumption – Identify the unstated reason that is required for the argument to be true and work effectively.
  • Assessing the impact of additional evidence – Identify claims or reasons that strengthen or weaken the argument in the text.
  • Detecting Reasoning Errors – Identify inaccuracies within the text. Consider the validity of any assumptions and if the conclusion follows on from the points being made.
  • Matching arguments – Identify the underlying logical process used to structure and phrase the text and the scenario given in the question. The context of the passage and questions will differ.
  • Applying principles – Using the text identify what theory, concept or idea is being presented. Select the answer which describes the same fundamental argument.

BMAT Section 1: Question Types

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