The BMAT Section 3 is the ‘writing’ section, it tests your ability to select, develop and organise ideas, and communicate them in writing concisely and effectively. This section is the weirdest to prepare for but you can increase your chances of achieving a high score by preparing smartly with these tips.
The main issue with the BMAT Section 3 is timing, you have 30 mins to think, plan and write a whole essay. I found this really hard when preparing for it back in the day, however I was able to increase my score by applying the following tips during preparation, they are as follows:
1. Know How BMAT Essays are Marked
The BMAT Section 3 is marked on two scales: 0-5 for strength of argument and A-E for Quality of English, where 5A is the highest mark one can achieve and 0E being the lowest. It is important before practice to know what the examiners are looking for, you can use this to your advantage and work on your writing style during practice. Use the official section 3 marking criteria and preparation guide to help with identifying what examiners look for in an essay.
2. Do a Practice Essay Every Week Leading up to the Exam (use an A4 piece of paper)
I would recommend using the official BMAT past papers to do at least one practice essay a week to work on your speed and strategy for the exam. It is a great way to familiarise yourself with the time constraints and get use to writing under 30 mins before the big day. The answer sheet in the exam is about a single A4 sheet of paper – so write essay within a single A4 sheet of paper (about 3 – 4 paragraphs). Ask friends or family members to mark your essays using the BMAT Section 3 marking guide we have provided and use their feedback to improve subsequent practice essays.
3. Work on Essay planning & structuring
This is one of the most important skills you will need for BMAT section 3. You have 30 minutes to write an entire essay, develop your own method for planning and structuring your essay. During research for the BMAT Study Guide and BMAT Study plan I spoke with many high scoring applicants to get their approach to planning and structuring , with many giving different answers as to what works for them the general advice is as follows:
These suggested times are only approximates based on the feedback I got, use it as a baseline to figure out your own method of approach.
4. Work on Argument Presentation and Structuring
Another important skill you need to develop for BMAT section 3, during practice work on your method for presenting written arguments. Always look at both sides of an argument and be clear and concise.
5. Have a Game Plan for test day
Whatever you do don’t go into the exam without a game plan for how you are going to tackle section 3. Have a set of strategies you plan to implement to ensure you plan and structure your essays effectively. Have a writing technique prepared and a list of phrases you intend to use when writing essays. The game plan must-be in-depth and cover your entire strategy for the day.
6. Brush on topics covered in the last decade
The BMAT exam board provides all the past papers from 2008, have a look at all the different topics covered in Section 3 and brush up on them – read newspaper articles, journals etc.
7. Build on General Awareness
Some of the essays in the BMAT build on social issues, others deal with specific concepts. I would recommend to keep up to date with current trends, social and political issues. Read newspapers, medical journals, television programmes and forums.
8. Practice under timed conditions regularly
Work through past papers under timed conditions. Ideally aim to do 1-2 mocks per week leading up to the exam – try different strategies and techniques to see which one suits you best. Also attempt a wide variety of topics. A little strategy I picked up from Chunia Farooqi, a medical student that took the exam in 2016, and a contributor on the BMAT Study Guide. She advises when doing mock papers write essays for topics you are least comfortable with, over time this will train you to be more diverse and make you much more prepared than many of the competing students. She scored 4A in the BMAT section 3 so definitely worth giving her approach a try.
9. Utilise Untimed preparation as well
Even though I think timed practice is a MUST and should make up for about 80% of your preparation for section 3, there are some untimed preparation tactics you can use to improve your section 3 results. When you think about it the process for attempting section 3 is split into 5 general steps:
Step 1 – Reading & Picking Question
Step 2 – Brainstorming idea
Step 3 – Planning
Step 4 – Writing Essay
Step 5 – Proof reading
Most students when preparing for section 3 only focus on step 4, but you can utilise some untimed practice to work on the other steps. I recommend spending some time to improve your approach to brainstorming, outlining and proofreading as well. Before you start writing practice essays at full speed, try one of the following techniques to improve and reduce the time you spend Brainstorming, planing and proof reading:
Essay Mapping: This can be done in many ways, during preparation practice mapping out arguments or subtopics using bullet points and brief notes. The goal is to layout the entire skeleton of the essay.
One Paragraph Method: At the beginning of your preparation for section 3 when attempting questions try to answer the question with one paragraph! Yes, what did will do is help improve your ability to plan and write essays more concisely. Instead of paragraphs addressing a point, it will be sentences.
Reading Backwards: A great way to force yourself to notice small details is to take things out of context. Try reading your BMAT essay backwards, sentence by sentence or paragraph by paragraph, so that you are focusing on the text, not the ideas. This technique is especially helpful for catching sentence fragments in the exam.
With practice you could move rapidly through these steps and knock off a few minutes and add more time to writing your essay.