The BMAT Section 1 is the ‘Aptitude And Skills’ section, the sections tests generic skills in problem-solving, understanding arguments, data analysis and making inference.
Section 1 is 60 minutes long with 35 multiple choice questions, timing tends not to be an issue with this section so with the right strategy and practice you should be fine. In this article we will look at top tips for preparing for the subtest.
1. Know what to Expect
To help recognise the areas to work on it is important to know the question-types and skills tested in section 1. The section assesses the following skills, they are as follows:
1. Problem Solving: This is your ability to finding solutions using numerical and spatial skills. These questions are split into three distinct types, they are as follows:
- Selecting relevant information: This refers to questions where you will be presented with an overwhelming amount of information for the problem and be required to select only the bits which are necessary and helpful in finding a solution and applying it.
- Recognising analogous cases: This type of questions tend to rely more on your spatial reasoning where you will be given some information and be asked to identify the same information presented in a different way, or the question may even present a situation in which different information has a similar structure.
- Applying appropriate procedures: These type of questions require you to generate a method to solve the problem presented in the question.
2. Understanding Argument: These type of questions test your critical thinking skills where you are given a paragraph of text and are required to identify, evaluate or draw conclusions. These type of questions are designed to test your ability in assessing an argument. You may be asked to:
- Identify reasons, assumptions and conclusions
- Evaluate an explanation or identify flaws in the argument
- Draw conclusions from the paragraph.
3. Data Analysis & Making Inference: This can be tested in different ways, where examiners may include questions in the form of text, statistics or graph. These questions can draw on a combination of skills like problem solving, ability to draw conclusions as well as critical reading to evaluate problems
Use this breakdown to identify gaps in skills and practice more of your weakest areas. Avoid the mistake of practising general Section 1 questions without targeting your weakest areas.
2. Learn how to analyse arguments
Your ability to analyse arguments will go a long way in the BMAT. It is not only helpful for Section 1 but you can apply the framework to write essays when presenting an argument in BMAT Section 3. I would advise to start by knowing the basic components of an argument.
The basic components of an argument are its claim, supporting points, and evidence.
Claim: This is the primary argument the author is trying to make. A strong claim will: 1) Take a stand, 2) Clarify the relevance of your argument, 3) Express main idea clearly, and 4) Be specific.
Here is an example of weak vs. strong argument claims:
Weak: There are some positive and negative aspects to the argument against concealed weapons.
Strong: Because of the recent rash of university shootings, qualifying students, faculty, and staff should be granted the right to carry a concealed weapon in order to protect themselves.
Supporting Points: These offer reasons why the audience should accept a claim. The supporting points always directly address the claim.
Evidence: Evidence backs up your supporting points.
When assessing arguments get into the habit of spotting all three components. Go as far as to incorporating this three components when presenting an argument in your BMAT essays.
3. Practice Data Interpretation and Calculations
Data Interpretation is core skill for both Section 1 and Section 2. It is hard to predict what will come out in the exam as this can come in various forms and format, and draws on problem solving skills . The trick with these questions is usually answering them quickly so be sure to practice, practice, practice.
4. Practice TSA Questions Untimed
If you are in need for additional Section 1 questions to test your critical thinking skills then it is worth doing some Thinking Skills Assessment practice tests, they are very similar to what you can expect in the critical thinking problems in Section. You can find TSA practice test on the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing website.
5. Do a Past Paper Mock every week leading to the exam
I would recommend using the official BMAT past papers to do at least one mock every week leading to the exam.
6. Balance both timed and untimed practice
Use past papers to go through questions under both timed and untimed conditions. I recommend when starting out do more untimed practice to gain familiarity with the test and improve your accuracy in answering questions. Once you become comfortable, step up the speed with timed practic
7. Have Game Plan in place
Whatever you do don’t go into the exam without a game plan for how you are going to tackle section 1. The game plan must-be in-depth and cover your entire approach for the day. A common game plan is to leave difficult questions and come back to them at the end. Don’t just stop there think about your strengths and weaknesses and use that to come up with amore detailed plan on how to deal with the test.