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Techniques to Approach Difficult BMAT Section 1 Questions

In this article we share some of the techniques and strategies that you can use when tackling difficult questions in BMAT Section 1.
Published 20th Oct 2019

BMAT Section 1 tests your critical thinking, problem solving and data analysis skills. Questions styles in this section tend to be fairly predictable, so it is worth familiarising yourself with them and practicing techniques to approach each of these question styles. We’ve outlined our suggested approach to each question style below. 

Critical Thinking

There are a limited range of question types that they can ask you for critical thinking. They generally involve identifying strengths, weaknesses, conclusions, inferences, assumptions or principles from the passage of text. 

Read the question

We advise tackling any critical thinking question by reading the question first. This means that as you read the passage, you already know what information you are looking for and you can pick it out more easily. Just read the actual question for now (for example, “What are the weaknesses of the argument in the passage?”), not all of the multiple-choice answers. This will prevent you from getting muddled and will allow you to think clearly about what the right answer should be. 

Read the passage

Then read the passage of text. Often you will not need to read the entire passage, therefore saving yourself precious time. Time is not as tight in Section 1 as it is in Section 2, but if you are able to save some time on some questions it will give you some leeway to spend a little longer on other more challenging questions within Section 1. 

Decide what you think is the answer

As you read the passage, underline or circle any words or sentences that help you to answer the question. Without looking at the multiple-choice options, what do you think is the answer?

Look at your options

Then, go to the multiple-choice options and identify if there is one which matches what you think is the answer. If so, this is reassuring that you are on the right path! However, 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).

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

Problem solving questions are often more varied than critical thinking ones, but there are still certain themes that tend to crop up frequently. It is well worth practicing these question types so that you are familiar with them. This includes identifying and predicting patterns, spatial reasoning and certain types of calculations. 

The method that we suggest for tackling problem solving and data analysis questions is slightly different to critical thinking.

  1. You should start off the same – by looking at the question. This will tell you what you are trying to work out and will keep you focused on the most important things.
  2. Next look at the multiple-choice options. If the answers are numerical, note whether the numbers are close together or not – this will help you to know whether you can round the numbers in the calculations to make them easier or whether you are looking for a precise answer.
  3. Then look through the information given. If there is a table to graph, make sure that you look at the headings/labels so you know what data you are interpreting. Identify which bits are useful and decide what calculation you need to do to get to the answer. Work out your answer and then look back at the multiple-choice options again. If your answer is one of the options – great! If not, double-check that you have done your calculation correctly.

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. 

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 1 so that you are sticking with one logical step-by-step approach. 

If you find that you are unsure of an answer despite using the techniques discussed here, try eliminating incorrect options from the multiple-choice list. Sometimes a couple of the answer options are obviously wrong and can be safely ignored. This will leave you with fewer possible answers to choose between.

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. 

Good luck! 


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