How to use the BMAT syllabus to analyse missed questions in Section 2


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The BMAT syllabus outlines the science and maths knowledge assessed in BMAT Section 2. In this article, we will look at how to use it to analyse incorrect questions and pinpoint underlying issues.

Section 2 questions may draw upon any parts of the syllabus and may include topics from more than one area. 

The Basics

In a previous guide, I shared a proven strategy to help analyse incorrect questions during BMAT practice. The article explains the three tiers to analyse incorrect answers, which are:

  • Stimulus-type (the presented material)
  • Question-type (the type of question)
  • Skills/Reasoning-type (the skill or thinking required)

Unfortunately, when it comes to section 2, most students only analyse one tier, usually the question-type, without effectively pinpointing underlying issues that may arise from the other factors.


Let’s apply the recommended strategy to a section 2 practice question from Medify. You will need the official BMAT specification for this exercise.

Medify BMAT syalllabus sample question
Source: Medify BMAT course. 1300+ practice questions and loads more. Learn more

Click here to check the correct answer.

Let’s imagine you got the question wrong or didn’t know how to solve it. How would you go about analysing the problem and pinpointing the issue?

Let’s explore the usual way students analyse missed questions. For the sake of explaining my point, let’s call it method 1.

Method 1 (Most common approach)

From reading the question, you should quickly identify it as a chemistry question, and it is testing your knowledge of chemical reactivity and displacement reactions. In this instance, you would have correctly identified the stimulus-type (chemistry) and question-type (chemical reactivity and displacement reactions).

Many students stop there. But what about the skills and type of reasoning required?

Why should you know this?

Question-type and reasoning do not go hand-in-hand on the BMAT. A question-type can draw on one or multiple types of thinking/skills to solve a problem. You must be able to recognise them to pinpoint underlying issues.

Method 2 (Recommended)

Analyse all three tiers as follows:

Stimulus-type: Do not only consider the subject but also the format, length and complexity of the stimulus.

Analysis of the example question – Stimulus-type

Question-type: When identifying the question-type use the BMAT syllabus on the official BMAT site rather than your intuition. The example would fall under the question-type ‘Group chemistry’ (C7), in the official syllabus (BMAT 2020 syllabus).

Analysis of the example question – Question-type

A quick way to search the syllabus is to use keywords. Use the ‘Find’ keyboard shortcut to search through the document – on Windows, ‘CTRL + F’ (‘CMD + F’ on Mac). For our example, I would search for the keyword ‘displacement reaction’ to quickly find the question-type.

Skill/Reasoning-types: Reasoning-type is the type of thinking required to solve the problem, this can also be identified using the BMAT syllabus. Skills, on the other hand, is a measure of your ability to derive the correct answer as efficiently as possible. This may include the use of mental shortcuts in calculations, verbal reasoning skills, extracting information from graphs, etc. These can be pinpointed by using a bit of common sense and reviewing the steps required to solve a question.

In our example, the reasoning-type would be the one or more of the objectives under ‘C7. Group Chemistry‘.

BMAT syllabus group chemistry
Source: Official BMAT specification (2020 syllabus)

Reasoning-type: If you remember from the question, we were asked to identify the tubes that underwent a displacement reaction. Therefore, you had to recall what is a displacement reaction (C7.3b). Also, you had to make a prediction (C7.3a), based on the trend that a more reactive element displaces another from its compound. Plus, apply that the reactivity of the halogens decreases down the group. 

Skills: The question required you to deduce that the solution of chlorine in the water will behave as a source of chlorine in these reactions. Therefore, you had to draw explicit meaning from the text.

Hence the order of reactivity for the halogens is F > Cl > Br > I > At. 

Thus, the bromide and iodide will undergo displacement reactions.

Analysis of example – skill/reasoning-type

Therefore, the answer is B (Return to question)

Other ways to apply Method 2

You can also use the method to analyse questions you answered correctly to help you accurately pinpoint your strengths.

Not sure where to begin with BMAT revision?

Click here to take our free 30-day BMAT Challenge. It is a free ebook to kickstart and structure BMAT revision. For more of our BMAT resources visit TMB store.

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