What is Section 2 about?
BMAT Section 2 tests your knowledge and understanding of science and maths and the application of these skills to real-world problems. The questions in this section are of the same standard as GCSEs so most should be familiar content to you – however the examiners can draw content from any of the exam boards so you may see a few topics that you have not studied at school before.
The main thing that candidates struggle with in Section 2 is timing. There are 27 questions to answer in 30 minutes, giving you about a minute to answer each question on average. Some of the questions are straight forward recall of basic knowledge and can be answered in much less than a minute, but others will require some sort of calculation to work out the answer and therefore can take longer than a minute. The important thing is that on average you are taking no longer than a minute per question in this section, otherwise you are likely to run out of time.
Here are our tips for preparing for Section 2 and keeping within the time allowance.
Use the BMAT Assumed Knowledge Guide/Specification
This document can be downloaded from the Cambridge Admissions Testing website and should be used as a framework for your revision for Section 2.
- Read through the list of topics and highlight/underline/mark any that you are not confident about
- Spend a short amount of time revising each of these topics to improve your understanding. You could use your own GCSE notes, a GCSE revision textbook, BBC Bitesize or other resources you might find online. If you’re stuck with a particular topic, ask your teacher at school
- Focus on the most important topics first – these are the topics that come up frequently in the BMAT and that you don’t know much about. Leave the topics that you are fairly confident with and only come up occasionally in the BMAT until last
- Don’t waste time revising topics that you already know well. Once you’ve revised any topics that you’re unsure of, start doing practice questions
- When you are going through practice BMAT questions, try to identify any topics for which you are often getting the incorrect answer. Go back over these topics again to improve your knowledge and understanding so you can boost your marks in the BMAT.
Read the question first
Then decide what you think is the right answer, then look at the multiple-choice options last. Most candidates find that this approach is the quickest and most effective way to approach BMAT Section 2 questions.
After you’ve read the question, try to work out what you think the answer should be without looking at the multiple-choice options. This allows you to think more clearly and not get side-tracked with all of the answer options available. Once you’ve decided what you think the answer should be, go to the multiple-choice options and identify if there is one which matches your answer. If so, this is reassuring that you are on the right path!
Eliminate incorrect options
If you cannot decide which is the right answer straight away, don’t panic. Instead start to eliminate any options which you think are incorrect. This will leave you with fewer options to decide between. Even if you end up guessing, you are better off guessing between 2 options (and therefore having a 50% chance of getting it right) having eliminated all the others, rather than guessing from 5 options (and having a 20% chance of getting it right).
Move on and come back later
If you are left with a couple of answer options that you cannot decide between, just choose one and move on to the next question so that you can continue picking up marks from the later questions. If you find that you have some time left over at the end of the section, you can always come back to the questions that you weren’t sure about. You might find that you can work out the answer more easily when looking at the question again with a fresh pair of eyes. Don’t leave questions blank – guessing might get you the mark.
You will find the calculations much easier if you are comfortable working with fractions. This includes converting between fractions, decimals and percentages; adding and subtracting fractions; and multiplying and dividing fractions. If you are unsure of any of these skills, make sure you go over them and practice before the BMAT. Working with fractions will save you time and simplify the calculations. It’s also well worth spending some time learning the times tables up to 12 if you are not confident with these. You are not allowed a calculator in the BMAT so learning basic multiplications will save you time in the exam.
Use practice questions and past papers
Once you are comfortable with the common question types and the skills you will need to use, the best way to improve your BMAT score is to practice as many questions as you can. Download all of the BMAT past papers and do them under timed conditions, then check your answers against the mark scheme.
Practice the techniques outlined above as you go through the BMAT past paper questions so that you are familiar with the techniques and how to use them to tackle questions ready for the real exam. Use these techniques with all of the questions in BMAT Section 2 so that you are sticking with one logical approach.
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